There hasn’t been a lot of news from the MLB and baseball recently. The reason for this is the MLB lockout. The lockout is a disagreement between the players and the MLB. A lockout in professional sports isn’t unheard of, but there is no actual date when their lockout will be over. The lockout occurred because the collective bargaining agreement, also known as the CBA, which governed the 2017 through 2021 seasons, has expired without a new CBA agreed upon. The MLB entered a lockout without a CBA agreement between the MLB and the players. On December 2nd, 2021, all transactions and communications between players and teams were stopped, which resulted in one of the most frantic MLB free agency periods.Embed from Getty Images
The lockout’s impact is more internal with baseball, as baseball has several issues, such as the entire sticky substance debate. Over the early months of the season, baseball was dominant for pitchers, as the MLB record for most no-hitters in a season was broken this year with nine. The sticky substance issue is where several pitchers used some substance, which helped improve their grip on the baseball. The MLB launched a crackdown on the sticky substance problems, as umpires checked players after pitching an inning. As the season progressed and the crackdown began, pitchers’ numbers began to rise and worsen over the season, but it might not have totally been because of sticky substances. It was revealed later that the MLB had been switching baseballs to a heavier ball which was more prone to home runs. So how did this impact free agency?Embed from Getty Images
Free agency begins five days after the conclusion of the World Series. Free agency started on November 7th, but the first move was made on November 16th. Teams had two to three weeks to sign players. Typically free agency is a three-four month period, but with the lockout making it where teams cannot have contact with any players. Max Scherzer signed the highest-paid contract in MLB history this offseason, earning $44 million a year. Should Max Scherzer be one of the highest-paid players in the MLB? Yes, but being paid $44 million a year at age 37 is something that has never been seen before. Contracts like that make it impossible for small market teams to afford elite players. The Texas Rangers are also a great example of how the lockout impacted free agency. In 48 hours, the Rangers committed more than a half-billion dollars to four free agents, shortstop Corey Seager, second baseman Marcus Semien, outfielder Kole Calhoun and right-hander Jon Gray.Embed from Getty Images
Free agency in the MLB is different compared to other major sports leagues such as the NFL and the NBA because of the salary cap. In the MLB, the salary cap is non-existent, allowing teams to sign players if they can afford it. This is why big-market teams such as the Yankees, Dodgers, and Mets can afford big-ticket players, and smaller market teams such as the Orioles, Rays, and Athletics aren’t able to. To put this into perspective, the entire Orioles team salary is a total of $61 million. Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton combined are being paid $65 million a year, so two players on the Yankees are being paid more than everyone on the Orioles MLB roster.Embed from Getty Images
The MLB lockout has impacted the MLB free agency as it rushed teams to sign players, but the lockout needed to happen. Hopefully, this lockout will fix some of the significant issues and controversies in baseball. Unfortunately, this lockout won’t really impact the salary cap but hopefully can resolve some of the other vital issues that have occurred through the MLB season.