Players Accept League's Proposal, Ending 99-Day Lockout
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with additional details and comments from MLB and the MLBPA.
The second-longest work stoppage in Major League Baseball history is over.
The MLB Players Association voted to accept the league’s latest proposal on Thursday afternoon, ending the lockout after 99 days. The players board, consisting of 30 team representatives and eight executive subcommittee members, voted 26-12 to accept the league’s proposal. Owners unanimously ratified the new agreement shortly after.
Players can begin reporting to spring training as early as Friday. Opening Day is scheduled for April 7. The four series previously canceled will be rescheduled and a full 162 games will be played.
"Looking forward, I could not be more excited about the future of our game," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "I think we have an opportunity in front of us. I think it's an opportunity that we need to work with the players to fully seize. But I think that some of the things in the agreement are really, really important in that regard."
The new, five-year agreement features a series of changes that touch on nearly every facet of the game. Among the changes agreed to:
- 12-team postseason
- Universal DH
- Draft lottery for the top six picks
- $50 million bonus pool for pre-arbitration players
- Players can be optioned no more than five times in a season
- Minimum salary raised to $700,000, with a $20,000 increase each year
- Competitive balance tax raised to $230 million for 2022, increasing annually to $233, $237, $241 and $244 million.
- Players who finish first or second in Rookie of the Year voting receive a full year of service time even if they don't open the season in the majors.
- League can implement rules changes with 45-day notice (offseason only)
The player's union prioritized getting younger players paid more earlier in their careers, ending service-time manipulation in which teams hold players down in the minors until they accrue an additional year of team control and preventing teams from "tanking" in order to accumulate high draft picks.
With the agreement, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark noted all of those issues were addressed.
"Those were the priorities from day one," Clark said. "They remained the priorities as I mentioned through last night, and will maintain those moving forward. But we were able to address all of those issues throughout the course of this negotiation. And players also heard owners and MLB in the room voice concerns about competition and about service time manipulation. So we needless to say we as players, and fans do as well, look forward to how those things manifest themselves over the course of the next five years and whether or not, or to what extent, those concerns manifest themselves on the field and off the field."
The draft lottery will begin in 2023, with the 18 teams who do not make the playoffs placed into the lottery. The teams with the three worst records will all have a 16.5% chance at receiving the first pick, as MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis first reported, with the remaining 15 teams reach having progressively lower odds. Teams that pay into revenue sharing (i.e. large-market teams) will be ineligible to receive a lottery pick more than one year in a row. Teams that receive revenue sharing (i.e. small-market team) will be ineligible to receive a lottery pick more than two years in a row. The highest those teams can pick after being moved out of the lottery is 10th.
"Draft choices have become more and more valuable to front office's," MLBPA lead negotiation Bruce Meyer said. "One GM notoriously was quoted as saying there are more teams competing for the first pick in the draft than there are for the World Series. Basically what we've tried to do is separate the connection between simply losing games and getting the best draft picks. So a lottery system is better than what we have in the sense that teams that tank, or teams that lose, aren't guaranteed of getting a top draft pick."
The draft will be 20 rounds, as it was in 2021, and bonus slot amounts for the top 10 rounds will increase for the first time since 2019. For picks in rounds 11-20, the amount that won't count towards teams' bonus pools will increase from $125,000 to $150,000.
Another change to the draft is top players who submit to pre-draft physicals are guaranteed to receive at least 75% of their assigned pick value. Draft-and-follow, a process in which teams draft a player but don't sign him until the following year after he completes a season of junior college, will return to the draft as well.
The two sides agreed to continue negotiations regarding an international draft until July 25. If a deal is reached to implement an international draft by then, there will be no more qualifying offers that attach draft picks to free agents. If no deal is reached, the current international signing system and qualifying offer system will remain the same.
The international draft emerged as a potential sticking point during negotiations earlier in the week, but the league and players agreed to table discussions in order to move forward on the rest of the deal.
"I'm not a fan of drafts in general," Clark said. "Having said that, as a part of this agreement, we agreed to have a conversation about the possibility of an international correct. And to the extent that there's a high level of integrity, and a commitment to negotiate over the parameters, then we'll have a good conversation about that. But there's no one rushing to to to put further restrictions on players, whether domestic or international."
For pre-arbitration players, the bonus pool presents an opportunity for them to earn double, or in some cases triple, their salaries based on performance.
As first reported by The Athletic's Jayson Stark, the bonus pool payments for pre-arbitration players will be as follows:
• $2.5 million for MVP or Cy Young Award winners
• $1.75 million for MVP/Cy Young runners-up.
• $1.5 million for MVP/Cy Young third-place finishers.
• $1 million for MVP/Cy Young fourth- and fifth-place finishers.
• $750,000 for rookies of the year.
• $500,000 for rookie of the year runners-up.
• $1 million for all-MLB first team selections
• $500,000 for all-MLB second team selections
The remainder of the bonus pool will be paid out according to a Wins Above Replacement formula to be determined.