After the 99-day MLB lockout, the MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) finally struck a deal last Thursday. Since a new collective bargaining agreement has been reached, the Orioles and Nationals will be proceeding with spring training this week.
What terms does the new proposal include?
After a heated round of negotiations, MLB and MLBPA settled on the terms of their new agreement with a 26-12 vote. It’s notable that such a significant portion of the executive board was not in total agreement, and may push for more negotiations in the near future.
These are some details of the deal that have been released to the public.
A competitive balance tax increase
The new agreement contains the largest-ever increase in competitive balance tax (CBT), or luxury tax, which is $230 million for the 2022 season. This is an increase of $20 million from 2021. In the final year of the 5-year agreement, the CBT caps at $244 million.
There’s also a new CBT penalty tier being introduced in the new agreement. The new tier starts penalties at $60 million beyond the threshold, which was previously $40 million.
“Obviously we’d rather there was no luxury tax at all,” said MLBPA leader Bruce Meyer. “I would disagree with the notion that it’s, as you say, a hard cap. I’ve experienced real hard caps in the other sports and, believe me, they’re much worse than this.”
Minimum salary increase
Another notable increase is the minimum salary agreed upon, which will be $700,000 for the 2022 season. This amount is up to $124,500 from 2021, which is the largest-ever year-over-year increase. The minimum salary increase will peak in the final year of the 5-year contract at $780,000.
Introduction of a pre-arbitration bonus pool
Aside from an increased minimum salary, the MLBPA gained another win for young players that are just starting out their MLB career. The new pre-arbitration bonus pool will be set at $50 million, with $250 million in funds over the course of the 5-year agreement.
Players that are ineligible for arbitration will be able to rank in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) based on their performance. Discussions during negotiations included a proposal that the pre-arbitration bonus pool be split between the MLB’s eligible players that rank in the top 30 performers.
Uniform patches permitted
As part of the MLB agreement, the league will now allow teams to place patches on their jerseys as well as helmet decals with advertisements. This will create a new stream of revenue for the league.
“It is pretty remarkable,” said The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, “That in 2022, baseball players not only went on the offensive, but actually left a stoppage with more than they arrived with, not less.”
MLBPA on the final agreement
Tony Clark and Bruce Meyer, leaders of MLBPA, discussed the agreement with the media on Friday, the day after the lockout ended.
“As has been the goal from day one,” said Clark. “A fair and equitable deal was the focus.”
Meyer praised the players’ solidarity as an asset to the Union’s wins in negotiations.
“This was a long, hard labor fight,” he said. “[Players] remained unified throughout, in the face of every pressure tactic in the book.” Meyer added, “Players made significant gains in this agreement,…”
Orioles players react to the new agreement on social media
When news spread that the negotiations had been finalized and the MLB lockout ended, Oriole’s players took to social media. While their posts were simple and often contained few, if any, words, the triumphant attitude was felt.
Orioles pitcher, Tyler Wells, posted a picture on Instagram of his smiling face with a simple caption of, “#mood.”
Cedric Mullins, Orioles outfielder, made a similar IG post with a picture of himself and the caption “current mood.”
Bruce Zimmermann, another Orioles pitcher, posted a caption of “Smile… baseball’s back #LFG” to a photo of himself in his Orioles uniform.
It’s clear that Orioles players are simply ready to get back to the game.
What’s next for the Nationals as MLB lockout ends?
Spring training for the Nationals began this week in West Palm Beach, FL. Prior to the lockout in December, though, the team made some successful and unsuccessful offers.
- Re-signed Alcides Escobar, shortstop, to a $1 million one-year deal
- Took Francisco Perez, left-handed reliever, from the Cleveland Guardians off waivers
- Took Lucius Fox, infielder, from the Orioles
- Signed Cesar Hernandez, second basemen, with a $4 million one-year deal
The Washington Nationals also offered a $350 million 13-year contract to star right fielder, Juan Soto, but Soto turned down the deal. With Thursday’s end to the MLB lockout, Nationals player Josiah Gray commented on how the agreement will positively impact the Nationals overall.
“I think it benefits everyone,” Gray said in a phone interview Friday. “You work top-down with the CBT stuff and teams are going to be not as constrained so they’re going spend more on free agents and a lot more teams will be in the ballpark to shoot for guys.”
Regarding the CBT tax increase, pre-arbitration pool, and increased minimum salary, Gray sees the new agreement as a success.
“With three of those being increased and becoming at the forefront of the PA’s mind,” he said. “I think we succeeded in that goal.”
Gray also expressed a sentiment that reflects how most MLB players are likely feeling right now: ready to play.
“I’m excited to play beside a lot of guys that are going be getting closer to their worth,” he said.