Major League Baseball locked out its players early Thursday (December 1) morning, marking the league's first work stoppage since 1995.
ESPN's Jeff Passan initially reported the decision, which was later confirmed by Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred in a prepared statement shared on MLB.com entitled, "A letter to baseball fans."
"Simply put, we believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season," Manfred said in the statement. "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. From the beginning, the MLBPA has been unwilling to move from their starting position, compromise, or collaborate on solutions.
"When we began negotiations over a new agreement, the Players Association already had a contract that they wouldn’t trade for any other in sports. Baseball’s players have no salary cap and are not subjected to a maximum length or dollar amount on contracts. In fact, only MLB has guaranteed contracts that run 10 or more years, and in excess of $300 million. We have not proposed anything that would change these fundamentals. While we have heard repeatedly that free agency is “broken” – in the month of November $1.7 billion was committed to free agents, smashing the prior record by nearly 4x. By the end of the offseason, Clubs will have committed more money to players than in any offseason in MLB history."
The decision was long-anticipated as the league had told the players it planned to initiate a lockout once the previous collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday (December 1) night.
Major League Baseball will now enter a dark period after an already eventful beginning to free agency, as Passan reports the upcoming Winter Meetings have been canceled "for the major league portion of the proceedings" but will continue "on the minor league side.
The lockout is a tactic used by management to prohibit employees from working until both sides reach a new agreement and team officials will not be able to communicate with players in any form, therefore, the offseason transaction process -- including free agency and trades -- involving players on 40-man rosters will end immediately.