Monday was MLB's self-imposed deadline to end the lockout and reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement before regular-season games would be lost. No agreement was reached but there have finally been reports of progress with talks extending into Tuesday.
The original 2022 opening day was set for March 31, and commissioner Rob Manfred has made clear the league’s position that a full, four-week spring training would be necessary if/when a new CBA is reached.
When seemingly no deal was in sight early Monday, three months from when the lockout began December 1, some frustrated players around the league began considering their alternatives.
Bryce Harper posted this picture on Instagram of himself in a Yomiuri Giants uniform. "You up?" Harper asks in the Instagram story. "Got some time to kill."
The Yomiuri Giants are the oldest and most successful team in Japan's NPB, essentially that league's Yankees.
As Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic pointed out, the players' union included this message in a guide to agents prior to the lockout:
Q: "Can locked out players play in foreign leagues like Japan (NPB), Korea (KBO), etc?"
A: "Yes. The PA would challenge any attempts by MLB to interfere with players who choose to participate in a foreign league during a lockout. During the 2004-05 work stoppage, a large number of NHL players chose to play internationally."
Just think of how much money a team overseas would be willing to throw at such a high-profile player in his prime coming off an MVP ...
Yankees slugger Joey Gallo had a hilarious response that highlighted his pull-happy ways and uniform quirks.
Braves reliever Luke Jackson followed Harper's lead.
This doesn't mean Harper was necessarily serious or that players will begin exploring opportunities outside the country if the lockout extends into March. Teams would obviously not want their highest-paid players risking injury in another pro league and would fight to prevent it. It could add another layer of frustration to what's been a damaging few months between the league and players, and between the sport and its fans.