MLB Lockout: Answering The 4 Most Important Questions

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Ernesto Cova

For the ninth time in Major League Baseball history, players and team owners have decided to go through a labor stoppage.

The CBA expired on December 2 and the substantial differences between what the MLB Players' Association demands and what the owners are willing to give them forced them to make this tough call.

"We believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season. We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time. This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive. It’s simply not a viable option," wrote league Commissioner Robert Manfred in a statement.

But, what does that even mean? Let's take a look at the 4 biggest questions from this situation.

What About Free Agency?

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For starters, all player transactions are officially halted.

That means that teams can't sign recently posted international players like Seiya Suzuki. It also means that teams can't reach out to players to try and sign them, nor they can trade any of the players under their control.

That's why the league decided to move the deadline for tendered players so they wouldn't be 'locked out' by a team that didn't want them.

All transactions can resume as soon as both parties reach an agreement.

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What Do The Players Want?

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Simply put, the players want the owners to give up control, at least to some extent.

They demand that players are eligible for arbitration after two years instead of three.

They also want that all players can become free agents when they turn 29.5 years old and have five years of service, or when they have six years of MLB service, whatever happens first.

That means negotiating contracts earlier and hitting free agency earlier, which would translate to more money for underpaid players.

Who's Got All The Leverage?

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In reality, both parties have leverage here. The owners can't afford another shortened season after the COVID-19 season in 2020.

The players can't afford to go through a months-long stand-off and face massive pay cuts once they decide to resume play.

Right now, the owners are in control of the situation but that could drastically change as the season approaches if the players decide to sit out the season.

In reality, they're likely going to meet in the middle sooner rather than later.

When Will They Reach An Agreement?

This isn't the first time this happens and this situation, while long overdue, was quite predictable.

The league canceled Winter Meetings and it's unlikely that there is any major news over the next couple of months.

“It’s going to be weeks before we see any reasonable progress,” former MLB executive Marty Conway told NBC Sports.

Most analysts predict that February will be the real deadline for negotiations to get some traction before the start of Spring Training.

For now, we'll just have to wait and see.

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