Batting Around: Predicting when the owner-imposed MLB lockout will end
Thu, Jan 6, 2022
MLB News (AP)
The Atlanta Braves are World Series champions and now baseball is in the middle of its first work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike. MLB and the MLBPA were unable to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement prior to the Dec. 1 deadline, so the owners locked out the players, and the hot stove has been put on hold for the foreseeable future.
Throughout the offseason the AP Sports MLB scribes will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we touched on rule changes we hope to see in the new CBA. This week we're going to discuss the end of the lockout.
When do you think the owners' lockout will end?
R.J. Anderson: I would guess late January, that way teams have February to apply the finishing touches to their offseasons ahead of spring training. I will stress that this is just a guess, and that it's possible it proves to be too optimistic. One constant in Rob Manfred's era as commissioner is that MLB always seems to wait as long as it can before reaching a resolution; it wouldn't surprise me if this ends up proving to be more of the same.
Dayn Perry: I'm going to say the middle of February. Spring training games are a nice little revenue stream for teams, and I think owners will want to have something close to a full slate of Cactus and Grapefruit League games. That also leaves six weeks or so to tackle the complicated economic issues on which these negotiations will hinge.
Matt Snyder: I'll echo Dayn regarding the owners' desire to have a full spring training schedule. They are still "recovering" from not having fans in attendance for the 60-game 2020 season and spring training games long ago became a cottage industry of sorts. They need to be able to sell spring training tickets and can't risk losing regular-season revenue. The players will have more leverage the closer it gets to the first scheduled spring training games, too, which is Feb. 26. Further, the players already, generally, think spring training is too long. They won't mind taking their sweet ol' time before reporting. Both sides know this. As such, it would behoove the owners to start talking sooner rather than later. Of course, it's a stubborn bunch, so they'll wait a little bit longer. Let's go with Jan. 31, so we can have a two-week frenzy with the remaining free agents and likely some trades before pitchers and catchers report to a full camp.
Mike Axisa: March 1. Then we'll get a two-week "offseason," a three-week spring training, and Opening Day will be pushed back one week. Under Manfred, MLB's M.O. has been to wait until the last minute to do anything, and this is an extremely complex negotiation. The two sides have yet to resume discussing core economic matters (the only matters that, well, matter) and they just sat on their hands for a month too. Once upon a time I was optimistic we would avoid a work stoppage all together. Now I'm pessimistic and believe the regular season will be impacted.