Baseball Lockout Comes to an End

For more than three months, Major League Baseball was in a lockout. On Thursday, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association ended their stalemate and came to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. After the lengthy lockout and multiple deadlines for delaying the regular season, the MLB Players Association accepted MLB’s new offer that will change a couple of things in baseball. One of the biggest changes that the MLB was able to implement in the new collective bargaining agreement is a new 12 team postseason format. 12 of the 30 teams will now reach the postseason in Major League Baseball. The owners had originally wanted to implement a 14 team format, but the 12 team format is still a 50% increase in playoff teams from 2011. Essentially, this means that it has been historically difficult to make the MLB playoffs, but the MLB is continuing to devalue the importance of the regular season, as the MLB is drawing closer and closer to the 16 team brackets that the NBA and NHL both utilize. Maybe the best outcome of the MLB going to an increased playoff format would be an increase in spending. Players have said that they do not think an extended playoff format will increase the team's spending, but perhaps an easier path to the postseason will lead to less tanking and more spending from teams that are chasing an extra playoff berth that was not there beforehand. Another anti-tanking measure that was instituted on Thursday was a draft lottery. I do think that a salary cap could have been more impactful to help stop MLB teams from tanking, but a draft lottery should be a good start. 

As far as what is next for the MLB, let's go over some key things for this season. Spring training camps opened with a voluntary report date on March 11 and a mandatory report date on March 13. Spring training days will start on March 17. Free agency started immediately after the collective bargaining agreement was ratified. MLB’s Opening Day will be April 7 and a full 162-game schedule will be played. The 12 team playoff format begins this season and the National League will also adopt the designated hitter starting this season. As far as spring training goes, it could be one of the most exciting spring training periods that the MLB and its fans will ever see. There will be big-name free agent signings and major trades being worked out during spring training camps, because of the lockout that restricted these negotiations from taking place for over three months. Getting a deal done as soon as possible was key for the MLB to be sure they did not lose too many fans. If the negotiations held back a full season of baseball from its fans, there would be a number of fans that would be disappointed in the MLB. Since the MLB and the MLB Players Association were able to work out a deal and salvage a full MLB season, baseball fans are very excited to watch their favorite stars make big plays and hit home runs all summer long. With some absolute studs still looking for a team to give them the right contract before the season, it will be a lot of fun to see where some of the game's biggest stars will end up for the 2022 season. Star shortstops Carlos Correa and Trevor Story will be looking to sign big-money deals. 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman is also looking for a new contract, even though it is highly likely that he will return to the Atlanta Braves. Other sluggers that are available include Nick Castellanos, Kris Bryant, Michael Conforto, Kyle Schwarber, and Anthony Rizzo. It will be very exciting for baseball fans to see where these guys end up for the 2022 season and it will be even more exciting to watch the season unfold after it was uncertain that the season would even happen at points during the lockout.

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