HOUSTON (AP) – Baseball’s ninth work stoppage and the first in 26 years looks almost certain to start on December 2, freezing the free agent market and threatening the start of spring training in February.
Negotiations have been going on since last spring, and each side believes the other hasn’t made any proposals that will lead to a deal replacing the five-year contract that expires at 11:59 p.m. EST on December 1.
The luxury tax system that started with the 2003 season ends with the expiration of the employment contract, with the exception of the completion of accounting and payments for the 2021 fiscal year. Uncertainty over the course of the 2022 season is likely to cause high spending clubs to delay entering into more expensive player deals.
Free agents can start signing with any team on day six after the World Series, and this year’s squad includes Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Freddie Freeman, Trevor Story, Max Scherzer, Marcus Semien, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Michael Conforto and Kevin Gausman.
MLB may attempt a sign freeze with the onset of a lockout, or the market could shut down on its own, even more pronounced than the slowdowns in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 offseason.
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman doesn’t know the parameters of what to spend.
“I haven’t had the conversation with what potentials yet, acknowledging that we already have budget commitments at stake and depending on how the new collective agreement works over time, hopefully sooner rather than later.” , he said.
Agents say they have not received any directives from the players’ association. Some have braced for a two-week scramble to sign next March or later, whenever a lockdown ends.
This lack of pace in negotiations is similar to what happened in 1989-90, when the agreement expired on December 31 and the owners announced on January 9 that a lockout would begin on February 15 in the absence of an agreement. A deal was reached on March 1 and the opening day was delayed for a week until April 9, resulting in the postponement and rescheduling of 78 games.
The teams have proposed eliminating salary arbitration and allowing players to become free agents during the offseason after reaching the age of 29 and a half rather than the six seasons of major league service in place since. 1976. They proposed a lower luxury threshold as well as a wage bill floor. Players have refused for decades to consider a payroll floor, believing it would lead to a salary cap.
Preoccupied by “Cistern” By rebuilding squads and cutting spending on major league payrolls, players want changes in the current deal, which calls for payrolls to be taxed above $ 210 million (using annual values averages plus benefits) and include the surcharges that were put in place for 2017. The proposal called for the threshold to be lowered to $ 180 million, another factor that could block many free agent negotiations.
The average major league salary rose from $ 4,097,122 in 2017 to $ 3,881,021 in 2020, before factoring in the pro-rated salary caused by the pandemic, according to the players’ association. Based on this year’s opening day payroll, the final figure for 2021 is expected to be around $ 3.7 million.
Baseball was interrupted by eight work stoppages from 1972 to 1995, the last of a 7 1/2 month strike in 1994-95 that wiped out the World Series for the first time in 90 years. The sport closest to another shutdown was in 2002, when a deal was struck on August 30 about 3.5 hours before players began to strike. It was the first uninterrupted deal since 1969.
Agreements were made prior to expiration on October 24, 2006, November 22, 2011, and November 30, 2016.
As negotiations swirled around this year, the union began a grievance hearing before arbitrator Martin F. Scheinman on September 27 to claim the 60-game schedule for the pandemic-hit 2020 season was too short. Jeffrey L. Kessler, the co-executive chairman of Winston & Strawn, gave a four-hour opening speech on behalf of the union, a person familiar with the hearing said, speaking to The Associated Press under cover of anonymity because the parties did not comment. on the session.
Kessler declined to comment.