Let’s face it: this stinks. It really, really stinks. The thought of having no baseball is devastating. This is the first lockout since the 1995 season. The League and the Union (managers and players) thus far, have been unable to come to an agreement regarding the CBA. Both sides have certain areas/propositions that they seem necessary in order to make a deal.
What exactly is the CBA?
The CBA stands for Collective Bargaining Agreement, and it is the agreement between an employer and the union. In this case, it is between the League and the Players Union. Neither the Players nor the League wanted this to happen. It is a very sad thing for the sport. Now that the CBA has expired, MLB placed the players under lockout. This means that no deals can be made between clubs regarding the signing of players. You cannot show interest in a Free Agent or talk to them, because they are essentially “locked out” of the sport.
Last week the MLB requested assistance from a Federal Mediator to help communication flow between the MLB and the MLBPA. 24 hours later, the MLBPA refused the request for a mediator, so both sides are right back where they started. The ONLY way that we are going to get a 2022 baseball season is by these two sides sitting down at the negotiations table and sorting things out. That means communicating with each other! I’m not quite sure why the Players Union denied the request for a mediator, other than the fact they think they can work things out for themselves…but if both the League and the Players are going to be stubborn about the whole situation, we aren’t going to get anywhere and would most likely end up saying “goodbye” to a 2022 season.
It is my understanding that the two main wants from either side are what is holding back an agreement. The MLB wants an expanded postseason. This would mean 14 teams get to compete in the playoffs, rather than the normal 8. In all honesty, I do not like the idea of a 14-team postseason. Yes, I understand that it would give more teams a chance and for their players to get to experience the magic of the postseason, but it takes away a lot of the competitiveness.
14 teams. That is one team away from half of the MLB! There is one goal on every team and every players mind at the start of the season, “make it to the World Series and bring home the trophy and title of World Series Champions.” That is what drives a team through the entire season – one goal. However, if you have 14 spots that guarantees 14 teams to make it to the postseason, it takes away all the chase between each division and the competitiveness from each side of the field. With 14 teams in the postseason, that would mean that not only the team that finishes first in their division would make it to the postseason, but so would the team that finishes second. That’s basically giving out trophies to the second place team. Baseball is not a sport of “we are all winners.” Yes, each team wins their fair share of games within the season, but in the end, only one team comes out on top.
So, with all that being said, I personally do not like the idea of a 14-team postseason. I think that the MLB should stick with what has been working for the past 40+ years: an 8-team postseason. That keeps the competitiveness in the sport, and the momentum of striving to be the best between each club.
The MLBPA key want/issue is: Super Two Eligibility. This means that the Union wants all players with two years of playing time to be eligible for arbitration. This would mean younger players would get paid more without having been signed to a long-term contract. It also means that MLB would have to invest more money into the arbitration pool.
To me, it seems like the MLB doesn’t want to spend any more money than necessary, which is why they don’t want to agree to this. Per sources, the MLBPA offered to reduce their proposal figure for a pre-arbitration pool from $105 million to $100 million. The League and owners still did not agree to this proposition, but came up with a counterproposal- they proposed a $10 million pool which would reward the top players of pre-arbitration with extended pay. It is my understanding that the Union did not like this idea because it didn’t mean extended pay for all younger players.
In the end, for us to have a 2022 season, it is going to take communication and negotiations between the two sides. Both need to realize they aren’t both going to get exactly what they want and come up with a compromise.
What does the lockout mean for the Braves?
The reigning 2021 World Series Champions had a lot of unanswered questions. The Braves had a great team in 2021, but now a lot of their key players face Free Agency. The most significant of those being Freddie Freeman, Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario. I speak for all Braves fans – we cannot imagine an Atlanta Braves team without Freddie Freeman. He has played his ENTIRE career in Atlanta, and he doesn’t want to play anywhere else. The team and the Atlanta fans don’t want him to go anywhere else either! Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario played HUGE parts for the Braves coming down the stretch and easily became fan-favorites.
Re-signing Freddie is obviously the top priority for the Braves, but they will also have to look at how they are going to structure their outfield. With Ronald Acuña Jr. set to return in 2022, that automatically fills right field. Adam Duvall stayed with the Braves so he would most likely fill center field. That leaves left field up for question. Eddie Rosario played left field for the Braves. He did a decent job considering he had never played left field before. Although he did make a couple jaw-dropping plays, they were more luck than skill. With more training he could fill that position for the Braves. Marcell Ozuna will most likely not play another game for the Atlanta Braves, so we can almost completely rule him out as a contender for left field.
That leaves us with Jorge Soler. He is a gigantic man with gigantic power and came through clutch for the Braves on several occasions. He did play right field for the Braves and did a decent job, but even he admitted he wasn’t too to comfortable. Soler came from the Kansas City Royals as their Designated Hitter. If the DH were to come to the National League in 2022, that would give the Braves a perfect reason to resign him – he would be a perfect Designated Hitter. After all, that’s the position he is the most used to playing.
There are still SO many questions to be answered. With Spring Training scheduled to start next week, negotiations and deals are going to be made quickly so that there can be a 2022 season. Time is needed for teams to sign players and make the moves needed before the start of the season in April.
Only time will tell what’s going to happen. All we can do now is hope and pray for a 2022 season.