JUPITER, Fla. — Break out the pennants, lay down the chalk lines, and Adam Wainwright re-introduces himself to Yadier Molina. Major League Baseball is back, unlocked, and now it’s really fast.
On the 99th day of Major League Baseball’s lockout, a day after the commissioner canceled a number of other regular-season games, the players’ union and owners agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement Thursday afternoon. A source confirmed the settlement to the Post-Dispatch. Several other sources also reported on the agreement, and an official announcement of the deal followed.
A flurry of transactions and free agent signings could begin within hours.
The owners unanimously ratified the CBA 3-0.
The Cardinals’ representatives voted against adopting the new CBA, and they would have done so after a poll of their teammates. Three other teams voted against the CBA.
After a slow, ponderous winter of negotiations and counter-proposals, the free-agent market opens Thursday night. Spring Training Camps can open to players starting Friday. The reporting date is March 13th.
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Opening day is scheduled for April 7th.
There will be a designated batsman in the Cardinals’ lineup.
The Cardinals will host the Pirates at Busch Stadium that day.
A full 162-game schedule is in place, with a 12-team postseason following in October.
To make up for the lost days, teams will use nine-inning doubleheaders for some of the games. There will also reportedly be an additional series of games added at the end of the schedule before the postseason begins.
The Cardinals plan their first spring game by March 17th.
“I think it’s an improvement deal for the players,” said Andrew Miller, the former Cardinals substitute who served on the union’s board of directors and was involved in the negotiations. “To see how big these improvements are, only time will tell.”
It was an amazing turnaround, less than 24 hours after Commissioner Rob Manfred officially said the season is unlikely to start until April 14. That changed Thursday when Major League Baseball extended its deadline for a full season for the third straight day.
The sides agreed to postpone the formation of an international draft until July, and then negotiations on the core economic issues that determined the negotiation process picked up speed.
Some snaps of where they ended up, according to reports and sources:
• Rule changes can be made faster with 45 days to review rule changes. That decision will be made by a committee that has more MLB representatives than union seats. A representative of the referees will also be present.
• Gone are the gizmos introduced to shorten games during the pandemic, like seven-inning doubleheaders and the runner-up to start extra innings.
• There is a draft lottery. The teams that do not make the playoffs will participate and the top six picks of the draft will be determined by a lottery by those teams. There are parameters to how many consecutive years a team can be eligible for the lottery. This is to prevent refueling.
• The minimum salary is $700,000 for 2022, increasing to $780,000 throughout the CBA. This is one of the biggest wins for the union as it raised the minimum wage by 22.7% over the past season and increased the entry wage players have for arbitration.
• Arbitration hearings for this season will take place at the end of March, following the March 22 salary swap. Draft rule 5 was canceled. That’s a big win for the Cardinals, who had Luken Baker unprotected and likely would have lost her to a team interested in a young, potentially hitting DH.
• A bonus pool for players who are not yet eligible has been established and is capped at $50 million. That’s at least five times higher than where the owners started when they first took the proposed pool from the players.
• Players who place first or second in the Rookie of the Year contest will receive a full year of service. This is an attempt to reduce the service time manipulation that left outstanding players stranded in the minors for the first two weeks of the regular season, only to gain an extra year of scrutiny.
• Players cannot be traded back to the Minors more than five times in a single season.
• The qualifying offer that combines a draft pick penalty with the signing of a free agent is gone for now. This may resurface if no international draft is agreed and in place by mid-season.
This is breaking news and will be updated.
Here are the highlights from our Monday chat with Post-Dispatch readers.
Bring questions and comments about your cards to the live chat at 10:00 am Monday.
Fans can watch live training for the first time in three years. Cards’ 153-player roster includes potential Walker, Gorman, Liberatore, and Baez.
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