The elephant in the room for all of the discussions we have seen regarding teams’ plans for the offseason, free agency in general, budgets, etc. has been the upcoming negotiations regarding MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. It is hardly a secret that MLB and MLBPA are on very different pages regarding what the upcoming CBA should look like and the two sides have not hidden their disdain for one another.
This distrust goes back to the last CBA negotiations where the discussions were, at times, very contentious and many thinking that the players ultimately got a bad deal based on how team revenues were calculated as well as the discussions regarding the 2020 season where the terms of how that season was to be played. Negotiations over the 2020 got so bad that the players famously broke off negotiations and told the league to tell them “when and where” the season would start with the threat of a grievance. The league responded by threatening to cancel the season altogether unless the players waived the right to file a grievance. While they eventually did play the season, to say the sides are not on good terms is an understatement.
This leads us to the most unsurprising development of the 2021 news cycle.
Baseball’s ninth work stoppage and its first in 26 years appears almost certain to start Dec. 2. If so, it will freeze the free-agent market and threaten the start of spring training in February.— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) October 24, 2021
There are a lot of issues that are going to be in the upcoming CBA negotiations including the distribution of revenue between the players and teams, what the definition of that revenue “is”, the luxury tax, the length of team control, the arbitration process, the format of the MLB draft, international free agency, personal conduct policies, health and safety protocols, and a whole more. While the gap between both sides varies on each issue, it is safe to say that the league/ownership and MLBPA are not anywhere close to an agreement.
This means that starting December 2, 2021, there will be a freeze on MLB free agency that could easily stretch into spring and, if the sides can’t get things figured out, the 2022 season could very well be in jeopardy.