Major League Baseball has entered a lockout.
MLB owners and the players association failed to reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement ahead of the expiration of the prior CBA at 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday night, resulting in the league's first work stoppage in 26 years.
"Simply put, we believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a letter to baseball fans on MLB.com early Thursday morning. "We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time. This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive. It’s simply not a viable option."
In the letter, Manfred highlighted the player benefits of the prior agreement, saying baseball doesn't have a salary cap or restriction on contract length or dollar amount.
"We have not proposed anything that would change these fundamentals," Manfred said. "While we have heard repeatedly that free agency is "broken” – in the month of November $1.7 billion was committed to free agents, smashing the prior record by nearly 4x."
The players association released a statement Thursday morning, calling the lockout a "dramatic measure."
MLB owners unanimously voted Wednesday night to institute the lockout, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
While the two sides have been meeting this week in Texas to try to hammer out a deal, a lockout has long seemed inevitable.
The owners “were not pleased” with the proposal made by the MLBPA on Tuesday morning, according to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. Talks between the league and union on Wednesday lasted just seven minutes. Per ESPN's Jeff Passan, the union rejected the league's proposal to drop certain issues from discussions, including the six-year reserve before free agency.
The players want, among other things, a bigger piece of the league's revenue, more money going to younger players and the luxury-tax threshold raised from $210 million to $240 million.
The players also brought up advertising patches on jerseys and a 12-team playoff format as potential ideas to generate more revenue, according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. The league had previously proposed a 14-team postseason format. To fit the 12-team format, the union reportedly suggested realigning each league into two divisions -- one with eight teams and one with seven teams.
MLB is expected to implement a transaction freeze during the lockout, meaning teams can’t make any moves involving players on 40-man rosters.
This is baseball’s ninth work stoppage and first since August 1994-April 1995, which saw the cancellation of the 1994 postseason and 938 games in total.
Spring training games are currently slated to begin on Feb. 26, with Opening Day 2022 set for March 31.
"I remain optimistic that both sides will seize the opportunity to work together to grow, protect, and strengthen the game we love," Manfred said in the letter. "MLB is ready to work around the clock to meet that goal. I urge the Players Association to join us at the table."