MLB reaches labor agreement with players union and Opening Day is set for April 7
“I have to say I am genuinely thrilled to be able to say that Major League Baseball is back and we’re going to play 162 games,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said at a news conference. “I do want to start by apologizing to our fans. I know that the last few months have been difficult.”
Spring training camps should open Sunday, ending a nearly 100-day lockout, a source familiar with the negotiations said.
“Our union endured the second-longest work stoppage in its history to achieve significant progress in key areas that will improve not just current players’ rights and benefits, but those of generations to come,” Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark said in a statement.
“Players remained engaged and unified from beginning to end, and in the process reenergized our fraternity.”
At issue were disagreements over how to distribute an estimated $11 billion in annual revenue. Owners have said they have been battered by shrinking attendance, and players — particularly those who are not among the stars of the league — have seen salaries decline in recent years.
In its news release, the players’ union listed some of the key components of the agreement:
• Significant increases to minimum salaries
• Significant increases to the payroll thresholds applicable under the Competitive Balance Tax, commonly called a luxury tax
• Amendments to the MLB draft order designed to deter tanking by teams that won’t make playoffs
• Expanded postseason (12 teams)
• Enhanced revenue streams through jersey and helmet sponsorships
• Improved benefits for former players
The deal was agreed to by the MLBPA’s executive board, which comprises 30 player representatives and eight executive subcommittee members. The owners later ratified the agreement.
That kept players off team property and no teams or players were allowed to sign new contracts or conduct trades. With a new deal, fans can expect a flurry of free agent signings in the coming days and some teams making long-awaited trades.
Manfred was asked at his news conference whether the lockout achieved what he wanted.
“Look, I believe that in sports an offseason lockout is the most effective way to get to an agreement without losing games if you can’t make an agreement before expiration,” Manfred said. “My strong preference is always to make an agreement before expiration. It wasn’t possible here.
“Once it became clear we couldn’t make an agreement prior to expiration, I do believe that the lockout helped move the process along. If we had just slid into the season, started the season without the lockout, I don’t think we’d have an agreement today.”
He said he hoped the players would see the league’s efforts to address their concerns as an olive branch.
“We built some processes into this agreement where we’re going to be interacting more regularly with players on topics like the international draft and rule changes. I think those opportunities for positive interaction help to build a better relationship.”
CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to this report.