“Until an agreement is reached, we are not allowed to make any changes to the major league roster. While the MLB works tirelessly to find common ground with the Players’ Association, our Work to strengthen our long-term baseball club continues and we will continue to invest heavily in our minor league system and remain committed to our plan to develop the young talent that you will soon see playing in Cincinnati.
“We appreciate the continued support and look forward to seeing you again at the Great American Ball Park in 2022.”
Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, also released a statement.
“This drastic and unnecessary step will not affect the players’ determination to strike a fair deal,” said Clark. “We remain committed to negotiating a new collective agreement that strengthens competition, improves the product for our fans, and advances the rights and benefits of our members.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred has addressed a letter to fans.
“First I want to thank you for your continued support of the great game of baseball,” Manfred wrote. “Last season we were reminded of how the national pastime can unite us and restore our hope despite the difficult challenges of a global pandemic. As we began to emerge from one of the darkest times in our history, our stadiums were filled with fans; the games were filled with excitement; and millions of families have felt the joy of watching baseball together.
“That’s why I’m so disappointed with the situation our game is in today. Despite the league’s best efforts to strike a deal with the Players Association, we were unable to extend our 26 years of Workplace Peace and reach a deal with MLBPA before the expiration of the ‘Current ACB. As a result, we were forced to begin a lockdown of Major League players, effective 12:01 am ET on December 2nd.
“I want to explain to you how we got here and why we need to take this step today. Simply put, we believe an offseason lockdown is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season. We hope the lockout will restart negotiations and bring us to a deal that will get the season started 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 compete. It is simply not a viable option. From the start, the MLBPA has not wanted to stray from its original position, compromise or collaborate on solutions.
“When we started negotiations on a new deal, the Players’ Association already had a contract that they would not trade for any other in the sport. Baseball players do not have a salary cap and are not subject to a term limit or dollar amount on contracts. In fact, only MLB has guaranteed contracts lasting 10 years or more and over $ 300 million. We have not proposed anything that would change these fundamentals. While we have heard repeatedly that free agency is “broken”, in November $ 1.7 billion was committed for free agents, breaking the previous record almost 4 times. By the end of the offseason, clubs will have spent more money on players than at any time in MLB history.
“We have worked hard to find a compromise while further improving the system for players, addressing concerns raised by the Players Association. We have proposed establishing a minimum payroll for all clubs to meet for the first time in baseball history; allow the majority of players to reach free agency earlier through an age-based system that would eliminate any claims of service time manipulation; and to increase the remuneration of all young players, including increases in the minimum wage. When negotiations lacked momentum, we tried to create some by offering to accept the Universal Designated Hitter, create a new draft system using a lottery similar to other leagues, and increase the tax threshold. on the competitive equilibrium which only affects a small number of teams.
“We have had difficulties in reaching collective agreements before and have overcome these difficulties every time during my tenure. Sadly, it looks like the Players Association came to the bargaining table with a strategy of confrontation rather than compromise. They have never collectively abandoned the most extreme set of proposals in their history, including significant cuts to the revenue sharing system, a weakening of the competitive equilibrium tax, and a shortening of the time period in which players play for their teams. All of these changes would make our game less competitive, not more.
“To be clear: this difficult but important step does not necessarily mean that the games will be canceled. In fact, we are taking this step now because it speeds up the urgency of a deal with as much track as possible to avoid hurting the 2022 season. Delaying this process any further would only endanger spring training further, opening day and the rest of the season – and we can’t allow an expired deal to again cause an in-season strike and missed World Series, as we experienced in 1994. We owe you all of our fans better than that.
“Today is a tough day for baseball, but like I’ve said all year, there is a path to a fair deal, and we will find it. I have no doubt that the League and the Players share a fundamental appreciation for this game and a commitment to its fans. I remain optimistic that both sides will seize the opportunity to work together to develop, protect and strengthen the game we love. MLB stands ready to work around the clock to achieve this goal. I urge the Players’ Association to join us at the table.