Not all professional sports labor stoppages are built the same and that’s certainly true for the current lockout preventing MLB spring training, and the 2022 season, from apparently starting on time.
As Minor Leaguers and other players not on MLB team 40-man rosters report to teams’ facilities for workouts, there is no resolution in sight to a lockout that has gone on for nearly three months and could delay or cancel the upcoming MLB season entirely.
When the previous MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement expired at midnight on December 1, the MLB owners took the step of locking out the players instead of allowing further CBA negotiations to occur between the league (essentially the owners) and the Players’ Association without preventing Major Leaguers from using team facilities or being in contact with team employees. That decision is why the start of the regular season — at least — is in jeopardy.
With all this uncertainty, there are MLB lines on the board — at the moment — for who will win each division in 2022, who will win the American League and National League pennants, and who will win the World Series. For now, you can still get your MLB picks in for future bets but, of course, things could change if the lockout continues for much longer.
Let’s break down some of the other factors and key information that could play a role in when, or if, the lockout will end in time to save the 2022 season:
Is There A Timeline?
MLB and the MLBPA have been negotiating in Jupiter, Florida — close to where many teams have spring training facilities — this week and there hasn’t been much traction in terms of an agreement, at least based on what has been publicly reported.
It’s also important to remember that a lockout is controlled by MLB while a strike is controlled by the players. Since this is an owner-initiated lockout, the ball is in MLB’s proverbial hands in terms of what the timeline to preserve regular-season games is. This week, MLB announced that games would start to officially be canceled if there was no agreement on a new CBA by February 28, which is Monday.
MLB spokesperson doubled down today on February 28th as a hard deadline to get the CBA done to preserve a 162 game season. Saying that after that games *will* be canceled and not made up.
“A deadline is a deadline.”
— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) February 23, 2022
As long as MLB holds to its word, things are pretty simple: The regular season is in doubt. Presumably, for every day after the February 28 deadline that doesn’t feature an agreement, there would be more canceled games.
What Are the Key Issues?
There are a variety of issues and deal points that separate the league/owners and the players right now. The main points of contention are playoff expansion, player minimum salaries, the competitive balance tax, draft structure, and the bonus pool size for players that haven’t reached arbitration yet.
That’s a lot of problems to come to an agreement on in a short period of time if the full 162-game regular season for each team is going to be maintained. Each side’s position on every particular issue has been reported piece-by-piece but things change very quickly so it’s hard to tell where exactly the two sides stand at any given moment.
What is clear, though, is that the haggling over money is the major impediment to an agreement right now. Owners want to hold onto as much of it as they can while players want the owners to open up their checkbooks and concede.
Could MLB Lose a Full Season?
It’s definitely possible, yet it’s tough to predict in terms of MLB odds how far the owners or the players are willing to go in terms of holding out for a deal. Both sides, obviously, would lose a lot of money if there is no season but it’s unquestionably true that the owners are wealthier than the players, so in theory, they could more easily withstand a missed season.
Still, that’s speculation. We also don’t know how MLB would go about deciding to cancel the season fully, like if there would be a hard and fast deadline or if it would be a wait-and-see situation.
No MLB season has been lost due to a work stoppage and the last significant stoppage was in 1994-95, which cost the end of the 1994 season but was ended before the 1995 campaign. Losing a full 2022 season — or a huge portion of it — would be unprecedented.
In the absence of MLB games for the foreseeable, you can still get your betting online fix with college baseball. The NCAA season is underway and lines are available on the BetUS sportsbook. It’s not MLB but it’s still high-level baseball and it’s a lot of fun.