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MLB strikes new CBA with players, season to commence on April 7

Major League Baseball (MLB) will retain a full 162-game schedule for its 2022 season after agreeing terms on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the MLB Players Association (MLBPA), ending a labour lockout that had lasted 99 days.

The 2022 regular season will now begin on April 7, a week later than originally scheduled, with the New York Yankees taking on the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. After the MLBPA approved the five-year deal by a 26-12 vote, the MLB owners ratified it on Thursday night with a unanimous 30-0 vote, therefore lifting the lockout.

Yesterday’s breakthrough in negotiations came after Opening Day of the regular season was further pushed back to April 14 on Wednesday after efforts to strike a new CBA with players failed.

In a statement released on Wednesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said that “good-faith proposals” were made to address concerns raised by the Players Association in a “last-ditch effort” to preserve a 162-game season.

MLB had already cancelled the first two series of games in its 2022 regular season as efforts to strike a new CBA ate into its competitive schedule. It came after MLB entered its first lockout in over a quarter of a century on December 2 as Manfred criticised the MLBPA’s “strategy of confrontation over compromise” amid a potential threat to Opening Day of the 2022 season.

The new CBA includes the likes of increased minimum salaries and a new pre-arbitration bonus pool to reward the sport’s top young players. From an events perspective, the deal notably sets out an expanded 12-team postseason format, a move that will take playoff action to two additional markets each year.

The agreement means the four series of games that were previously cancelled will be rescheduled. The regular season has been extended by three days to October 5, with approximately three games per team being made up as part of doubleheaders.

Speaking at a news conference following the announcement of the deal, Manfred said: “I do want to start by apologising to our fans. I know that the last few months have been difficult. There’s been a lot of uncertainty, at a time when there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world. It’s kind of the way the process of collective bargaining works sometimes, but I do apologise for it.

“One of the good things about collective bargaining is that it grants our players the opportunity to have a say on what their workplace and the game is going to look like moving forward. They took full opportunity to provide that input during these negotiations.”

MLBPA executive director, Tony Clark, wasn’t present alongside Manfred at the press conference and will instead address reporters later today (Friday). Clark said in a statement: “Our union endured the second-longest work stoppage in its history to achieve significant progress in key areas that will improve not just current players’ rights and benefits, but those of generations to come.

“Players remained engaged and unified from beginning to end, and in the process reenergised our fraternity.”

MLB’s last lockout ran from August 12, 1994 to April 2, 1995, resulting in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.

Image: Flow Flo on Unsplash