Ronald Bloom AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Players have voted to accept the latest proposal from the Major League Baseball for a new deal, paving the way for ending the 99-day lockout and maintaining a regular season with 162 games, which begins April 7.
The union’s executive council approved the agreement on Thursday 26-12 votes before ratification by all players, said a man familiar with the vote, speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcements were not allowed.
MLB sent the players an offer on Thursday and gave them up to 15 hours to take to play the full season. The union announced the player’s vote around 3:25 p.m. The owners plan to hold a vote on ratification at 6 p.m.
“The deal is moving the game forward,” said Yankee Cole, a member of the union’s executive subcommittee, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “It’s about a lot of things that players need to focus on in the game: the aspect of competitive honesty.”
The agreement will open training camps this week in Florida and Arizona, more than three weeks after they were due to take place on February 16th. Fans may start making plans to be at Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium and Camden Yards next month. The opening day is scheduled a little over a week after the original date of March 31st.
The deal will also kick off a quick round of free agency. Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman and Chris Bryant are among the 138 Premier League champions who still do not have a team, including some who may benefit from taking a universal striker.
The new collective agreement of this sport also expands the playoffs to 12 teams and introduces incentives to limit the so-called “tanker”. The minimum wage will rise from $ 570,500 to about $ 700,000, and the luxury tax threshold will increase this year from $ 210 million to $ 230 million. For players who are not yet eligible for arbitration, a new bonus pool has been created, a way to increase salaries for young stars.
Commissioner Rob Manfred set a deadline on Tuesday for a deal that would keep the schedule with 162 games along with the full pay and service time needed by players to reach a free agency. Negotiations passed the deadline, and Manfred announced the cancellation on Wednesday, increasing the total to 184 out of 2,230 games.
After another hurdle, this time due to the desire of the leadership of the international amateur draft, the deal was united on Thursday afternoon and ended almost a year of negotiations, as a result of which pitchers Max Scherzer and Andrew Miller took significant roles as union representatives.
Players have been angry for years over the deal, which expired on December 1, as a result of which wages fell by 4% in 2021 compared to last full season to 2015 levels. The union took an ambitious stance in the negotiations that began last spring, calling for an increase in the agency’s freedom of rights subject to age restrictions and for the expansion of wage arbitration to the 1974-86 level.
In the later stages, the key to the deal was the level and rates of the luxury tax, conceived as a break in spending. Players think that too low a threshold and too high a rate are tantamount to wage restraint, which the union has repulsed through a 7 and a half month strike in 1994-95.
The agreement was reached after three days of transfer talks between MLB offices in downtown Manhattan and the players ’association headquarters in three quarters.
Despite hundreds of hours of threats and counter-threats, the parties intend to avoid canceling regular season games due to labor disputes for the first time since the 1994-95 strike. The games, originally announced by Manfred as canceled, have been changed to postponed, and the MLB will change the original schedule.
However, the deal was costly: years of public resentment again considered both owners and players obsessed with money. Spring training in Arizona and Florida has been suspended for the third year in a row after two exhibition seasons altered by the coronavirus pandemic. The exhibition games were to start on February 26.
“People can walk on the playground. It will help, ”Cole said. “Maybe some people will go to the site to tell us that they feel negative. It is also their right. I will say that no one wants that to happen. And some of the obstacles we’ve had to jump over the last few weeks haven’t necessarily been malicious, but just the proper process.
“It’s a very democratic process, and some of that stuff takes a while. But I think everyone is very happy to come back and very happy to come back in front of the fans. “
Players will have about 28 days of training, not the usual 42 for pitchers and catchers.
The talks were somewhat similar to the 1990 talks, when the lockout began on February 15 and ended with a four-year agreement announced at 1:18 a.m. on March 19.