MLB Implementing a Lockout for the First Time Since the ‘90s


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Children during the ’90s protesting the MLB strike.

Abby Homrock, Sports & News Editor

    On Wednesday, Dec. 1, the MLB’s collective bargaining agreement expired, as all 30 clubs and players failed to reach a new agreement. The expiration sent the MLB into a league-wide lockout of players and teams. This is the first lockout since 1990 and the most recent stoppage of work since the 1994-95 players’ strike. It is unclear as to when the lockout will end, but it is presumed it will halt the off-season.

    This lockout has been expected for many weeks now, as it was very clear the league could not come to an agreement. When addressing the situation to the Associated Press, Rob Manfred, MLB commissioner stated, “I can’t believe there’s a single fan in the world who doesn’t understand that an off-season lockout that moves the process forward is different than a labor dispute that costs games.” With this lockout, the MLB is now implementing transaction freezes, trades and free-agent signings are not allowed within a 40-man roster. Although the MLB is in a lockout, the minor league affiliate teams are free to continue business as usual. 

    Along with no trades and free-agent signings, players on any of the 30 clubs are not allowed to use team training facilities. This means no club organized and individual workouts. Also, injured and rehabbing players are no longer allowed to get treated at said facilities. “For me personally, if I can’t go to an affiliated site to do rehab — like if I can’t go to [the Braves spring training site] to do my rehab,” Charlie Morton, pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, told the Athletic in November, “that’s not going to make it impossible to do my rehab, but I’m sure the Braves would like to have hands and eyes on me. That’s the way it should be.”

    Last time the MLB had a work stoppage was the 1994-95 players’ strike. This strike caused the 94-95 season to end prematurely and even cancelled the World Series. This strike affected the next year’s season as it cost the league tons of games. The last league-wide lockout was in 1990, which was the seventh work stoppage for the MLB. This lockout lasted 32 days, wiped out spring training and even pushed opening day back a week.  

   With the MLB gaining popularity and its players making astronomical amounts of money, the union and players have become more vocal with their concerns. There was a tension between the club owners and players, which is seen to have started in 2020 over the suspended spring training due to COVID-19. During a press conference, pitcher Max Scherzer, stated that the union has been saving up money for five years, to help the effects of this labor stoppage. “The best-case scenario is not to tap it. Obviously, hopefully, we get a deal at some point in time, but just know as players, we’re steadfast in our belief of how we see the game,” Scherzer said.  Although this may be a difficult situation to owners, players and fans, the MLB is hoping to come to an agreement before the next season. This new agreement will strengthen the game that many love and will come back stronger than ever.