Better late than never… BASEBALL IS BACK!!!

Nick Reid Mar 11, 2022

Ladies and gentleman, I have some great news for you. The BEST news if you’re a baseball fan. Because nearly three and a half months following the expiry of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, which transpired into a gutwrenching, messy, and relentless lockout, the owners and the players have finally reached a deal to end this damn thing.

As of Thursday afternoon, the league and the players’ association came to terms with a new CBA which means, you guessed it, BASEBALL IS BACK!!! Someone needs to pinch me because I still can’t believe it.

If you’ve followed along throughout this saga, which deserves its own eight-part Netflix series, you know it wasn’t an easy road to get here. The lockout lasted for 99 days, and from December 1st to today it took well over a hundred hours of internal negotiations, a half-dozen “deadlines“, the cancellation of the first two weeks of the season, and at least six new grey hairs for yours truly.

But FINALLY, the MLB and the MLBPA tentatively agreed to a new CBA which means the 2022 season is back on track.

What do we know about the new labour deal?

The CBA was voted upon Thursday by 38 union leaders on the players’ side, which received 26 “yes” votes expressing the true sentiment of the player reps. From that point, all 30 owners unanimously agreed to the deal which led to the ratification of the new CBA.

Every baseball fan aged at least seven years throughout the process, but MLB commish Rob Manfred, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark and their respective sides finally agreed on something.

As ESPN reported, here are some of the changes that we’ll see in the new CBA:

  • A new minimum salary of $700,000 in ’22, which is a 23% increase (the largest single-season rise in league history) which continually ascends throughout the five-year deal. This was a huge talking point for the players and will make a big difference for the lower-class majority aka the young guys.
  • A higher competitive balance threshold, which is the ceiling for a teams’ spending where higher taxes are imposed if exceeded, up 10% from last year and will also rise year-over-year. The CBT is baseball’s de facto “soft” salary cap, and it was perhaps the most contentious issue throughout this lockout.
  • An expanded, 12-team postseason. The owners wanted to rise it to 14, but thankfully that garbage didn’t make the cut.
  • A universal designated hitter. Gone are the days where the 9th batter in the order is an automatic out. Hallelujah.
  • Advertising on jerseys and helmets. I’m going to absolutely hate this but hey, we all have to make concessions.
  • Measures designed to inhibit service time manipulation and reward the highest-performing pre-arbitration players (aka have played less than three years at the MLB level) which again benefits young players.
  • A draft lottery system similar to the NBA and NHL as a way to prevent tanking.

While we don’t know all the specifics of this agreement, this is a massive W for the sport and its fans. The chaos and mistrust that simmered throughout the lockout has not gone away overnight. There are surely still tensions between the two sides that were only able to meet eye-to-eye at the twelfth hour, and saying they met eye-to-eye to come to this new CBA is generous. But dammit a breakthrough was made and that’s worth celebrating.

So… What’s next? For mlb? For the blue jays?

With the lockout over the season is gonna come at us at warp speed, which will hopefully make up for this arduous period where it had felt like hell had frozen over. Players can now report to spring training, a month later than they were supposed to, with the goal of ramping up baseball activities so that everyone’s ready to go for Opening Day. I’m sure a lot of guys have stayed in baseball shape throughout the lockout, but there will still need to be a few weeks of spring training before we can kick off the regular season. I just hope Vladdy didn’t eat as much ice cream as a way to cope with this lockout these last few months as I have, or else the Jays will be in big trouble.

Due to the inability to come to an agreement in time for the first of several phantom deadlines, Opening Day has been pushed back to April 7th. For the Toronto Blue Jays, April 8th will be their first regular season game which will be against the Texas Rangers at home. Having Marcus Semien back at the Rogers Centre will be a tough pill to swallow when we see him in the visitors’ dugout.

But before the first pitch is underway, there are still a lot of players who need to find new teams. The lockout froze transactions meaning free agents who didn’t sign with a club before December 1st are jobless, and because the season is right around the corner we’re gonna see a frenzy of free agent signings. This weekend is gonna be an insane flurry of player movement. Will we see the Jays go out and get a new third baseman and a pitcher or two over these next few weeks? Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

I’m not going to lie to you that this lockout was a bummer. It had gotten to a point where it felt like baseball was never coming back and it SUCKED. Throughout this entire offseason the back-and-forth, unwilling to compromise (mostly thanks to the owners) half-ass negotiations acted like the ship stuck in the 2022 season’s Suez Canal. There was no return in sight for the children’s game that we all love.

But I’m thrilled to say that that’s all behind us now. The lockout is over, a new labour deal is here, and baseball season is right around the corner. I cannot wait to get back to watching a ton of Blue Jays baseball, get back to the Rogers Centre this summer, and get back to putting out content covering this electric team and this amazing sport.

For the first time in quite a while, it’s a great day to be a baseball fan.

Nick Reid

Blue Jays Contributor for Sport Management student at Brock University. Have seen a game at all 30 Major League ballparks. Would rather be eating poutine at the Rogers Centre.

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