New York Yankees: Radical differences suggest a long lockout

William Parlee
Dec 10, 2019; San Diego, CA, USA; MLB commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media before announcing the All-MLB team during the MLB Winter Meetings at Manchester Grand Hyatt. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sport

The New York Yankees failed to improve the team before the lockout, and they can expect to wait a long time to make those improvements. Most analysts believe the lock will last until the start of spring training, assuming the players are not locked out of the training facilities, endangering the beginning of the 2022 season.

By now, most of you know that Major League Baseball is in its first work stoppage since the 1994-95, that’s 26 years since the players went on strike in the middle of the 94 season. Last Wednesday night at 11:59 p.m. ET, the 2017-21 collective bargaining agreement expired, meaning MLB and the MLB Players’ Association do not have a contract in place to conduct business. This time, it’s not a strike but an owner-imposed lockout instituted just minutes after the present expiration.

What all of this means to the 2022 season is unknown right now, but we do know, is that all MLB business came to an immediate halt. Players and owners can’t even talk to each other until a new deal is signed. But it goes beyond that; the no talk and no contact goes includes managers, coaches, and even rehab trainers. Here are a few other events that could be impacted.

Along with the transaction freeze, the MLB Winter Meetings scheduled for December 6-9, typically the busiest week of the offseason, have been canceled. The Rule 5 draft that is scheduled for December 10 is likely to happen still. There is precedent for this, as the draft went on during the last work stoppage. But the final decision is unclear. The draft is when teams can select unprotected minor leaguers from other teams. Those selected must be included on the procuring team’s 40 man rosters, automatically making them a member of the Players Union.

January 14, 2022, is the arbitration salary filing deadline. You can look for this to occur as arbitration is between the players and the arbitrator and the owners and the arbitrator. The players and owners don’t actually talk to each other. However, pushing the deadline back is not out of the question.

January 15, 2022, is the first day that teams can sign international free agents. It could go on as scheduled during the lockout as the owners are not dealing with major league players. However, that does not mean that date couldn’t be pushed back too. MLB has been wanting an International Draft for years, and the upcoming CBA could change those rules. If a CBA can not be accomplished before spring training, it could push back the signing date indefinitely. The Yankees were expected to sign number one international prospect Rodrick Arias.

On January 20, 2022, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce their class of 2022 as voted upon by the Baseball Writer’s Association. This will go on as expected.
That brings us to the start of Spring training in February, when pitchers and catchers are to report. If this is no CBA in place, they won’t be allowed on the training facilities, and the start of spring training and the regular 2022 season could be impacted. As it looks right now, most baseball analysts do not expect an agreement until the heat really turns up at the beginning of February. Why? Because the two sides are far apart on the issues, and neither seems to be willing to negotiate in good faith.

Rather than get into all the issues causing the lockout, let’s just say it’s about money, the players want more, particularly at the beginning of their careers, and the owners want to keep that money. That’s not to say there aren’t other issues causing disagreement, but money is the big one. The players feel the owners have pretty much had their way in the last few agreements and are determined not to let that happen again. With heals dug in, there is no telling how long the stoppage will last, or even if there will be a 2022 season.

If these issues are to be resolved, Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and Player’s Union leader Tony Clark and going to have to put their heads together and hammer out what is best for both sides. What the fans want will not be in the equation. For the Yankees, with much work yet to do, they would like to see an agreement made sooner than later.