MINNEAPOLIS -- Major League Baseball’s first work stoppage in 26 years officially kicked off earlier this week when owners locked out players following the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
There are a number of matters at stake that must be negotiated, most of the major ones economic. Players salaries have been on the decline as a whole in recent years and there are a number of different issues pertaining to that issue that the union wants addressed. Other issues, like expanded playoffs, which the owners are in favor of, are in play, too.
With no agreement in sight, here is a look at how teams and players will be affected over the course of the lockout.
How does this affect transactions?
During the flurry of activity in November that preceded the lockout, teams committed $1.7 billion to free agents.
The Minnesota Twins were responsible for $105 million of it on Wednesday, doling out $100 million to outfielder Byron Buxton over the course of a seven-year contract and agreeing to a deal with starting pitcher Dylan Bundy that will pay him $4 million next year with a $1 million buyout or $11 million club option for 2023.
No transactions involving players on the 40-man roster will occur until the lockout has ended. That means no trades and no free-agent signings. Players cannot be waived or released.
The major-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, which was scheduled for this week, has been postponed, though the minor-league phase is still scheduled to take place. Minor-league signings can still happen during the lockout.
How does this affect players?
Team employees cannot have any contact with players who are on the 40-man roster. In anticipation of a potential lockout, that’s something the Twins have been preparing for for months now.
“The one thing we have to do is just be prepared if there is (a lockout), that our players are fully prepared for their offseasons and have their plans set,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said in early October. “The lack of communication that could be the case between players and teams, we have to have all of this mapped out beforehand and they feel confident in what they need to do.”
Players must stop working out at team facilities, and players who have been rehabbing injuries will no longer be able to do so with team personnel.
Additionally, teams will not be using player names or images for marketing, promotions or anything else. All stories about current players have been removed from the Twins’ official website, and player headshots have been stripped from their bio pages.
How does this affect minor leaguers?
Minor leaguers who are not part of the 40-man roster are not part of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, so things will proceed normally.
While many of the Twins’ top prospects are on their 40-man roster, players like Austin Martin, Simeon Woods Richardson and Matt Canterino are among those who are not.
“We have a whole host of minor-league players that we still want to develop that we hope will be a big part of this in the short term,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said Wednesday. “We still have plans for some of that programming and what we’re going to do here in the months to come. So we’ve got plenty on our plate, certainly.”
Will the season start on time?
It’s too early to tell. Check back in a couple of months.
This is the sport’s ninth work stoppage and only three have resulted in missed games, so a lockout now does not necessarily mean the season won’t start on time.
The Twins are set for Opening Day on March 31 in Chicago. Spring training is scheduled to get underway in mid-February, with games starting later in the month.
A lockout that bleeds into the regular season would be the worst-case scenario for everyone involved — owners would lose revenue, and players wouldn’t get paid.