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Major League Baseball entered its first work stoppage in 9,742 days when the owners elected to lock out the players following the expiration of the sport’s collective bargaining agreement at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.
The lockout institutes a freeze of Major League transactions, so there will be no signings or trades.
Teams are not allowed to contact players on the 40-man roster – stories and pictures of active players were already wiped from MLB.com because there is no licensing deal – and players are not permitted to organize for team activities.
The Major League portion of the annual Winter Meetings, which were scheduled to begin next week, was canceled.
What the Cincinnati Reds organization is saying about the MLB lockout
“Like all of Reds Country, as an organization we are disappointed,” the Cincinnati Reds wrote in an organizational statement. “To be clear, this does not mean games will be canceled. The purpose of taking this step now is to accelerate the urgency needed to reach an agreement as quickly as possible. MLB is offering solutions aimed to address the Players Association’s stated concerns in a manner that is fair to both sides, improves competitive balance on the field so every team has a chance to compete, and improves and preserves our game.
“While MLB works around the clock to find common ground with the Players Association, our work to strengthen our ballclub for the long-term continues. We will continue to invest heavily in our minor league system and remain committed to our plan of developing the young talent you soon will see playing in Cincinnati.”
It is the ninth work stoppage in the sport’s history, the first since the players’ strike in 1994-95, which canceled the World Series. The last lockout came before the 1990 season. It lasted 32 days and moved the start of the season back one week. The Reds went wire-to-wire on their way to a World Series title.
MLB lockout: What Rob Manfred, Players Association are saying
“Simply put, we believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start 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 be competitive. It’s simply not a viable option. From the beginning, the MLBPA has been unwilling to move from their starting position, compromise, or collaborate on solutions.”
Said the Players Association: “This shutdown is a dramatic measure, regardless of the timing. It is not required by law or for any other reason. It was the owners’ choice, plain and simple, specifically calculated to pressure Players into relinquishing rights and benefits, and abandoning good faith bargaining proposals that will benefit not just Players, but the game and industry as a whole.”
The owners and players union met in Texas this week for the final rounds of negotiations before their previous five-year agreement expired, but they apparently didn’t make much progress. Manfred noted in his statement the owners offered a payroll floor for teams, an age-based system to become eligible for free agency, an increase in minimum salaries, a universal designated hitter, a lottery draft and to increase the luxury tax.
“This drastic and unnecessary measure will not affect the Players’ resolve to reach a fair contract,” said Tony Clark, the executive director of the players union, in a statement. “We remain committed to negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement that enhances competition, improves the product for our fans, and advances the rights and benefits of our membership.”
The faster the two sides agree to a new collective bargaining agreement, the less of a threat it is to affect next season’s schedule. Spring training is supposed to begin in mid-February and Opening Day is scheduled for March 31.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Reds respond to 2021 MLB lockout with a statement