MLB owners vote to start lockout

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement, the contract that allows MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) to conduct business, will expire Wednesday night at 11:59 p.m. ET. MLB owners have unanimously voted to lock out the players soon thereafter, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. The lockout will begin at some point on Thursday, per Heyman, and will mark the league's first work stoppage since 1994-95. During the lockout, free agents will not be allowed to sign and teams will not be permitted to trade players who are part of the union.

The league and the players union have been far apart for a while on a new CBA, and last-minute talks between the two sides this week in Texas did not result in a deal. Here's more on what the lockout means for baseball.

Some of the most contentious aspects of the negotiations center on attempts to alter free agency and compensation, and ways to inspire more competitiveness across the league. As part of recent negotiations, the MLBPA proposed changes that included free agency after five years of service time (instead of six), salary arbitration earlier in players' careers, and a raising of the luxury-tax threshold, among other things, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers.

MLB countered with a proposal of its own that removed cost of living increases from the pension plan, per The Score's Travis Sawchik, and that would have the luxury tax threshold increasing to $214 million (it was $210 million in 2021), according to The Athletic's Evan Drellich.

It should be noted that the CBA's expiration did not require the league to shut down. Rather, the league could have continued to operate like normal with CBA negotiations happening concurrently. The owners, then, made a conscious choice to enter a lockout, shutting down the league for what could be a weeks- or months-long stretch.

The annual Winter Meetings are likely to be canceled, and the Rule 5 Draft will be postponed until after the ratification of a new CBA by both sides, whenever that may prove to be.

This represents the fourth lockout in baseball history. The three prior occurred in 1973 (lasted 12 days), 1976 (13 days), and 1990 (32 days). None of those resulted in regular season games being postponed or canceled. It's unclear how long this lockout will last, but players are scheduled to report to spring training in mid-February.

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