The lockout is over! The league and the MLBPA have come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement — let’s identify the key changes to league rules, salary structure, season format, and more.
By a 26-12 vote, an MLBPA panel of 30 team representatives and eight executive committee members approved the latest labor deal to hit the negotiating table from the league and its owners. A new collective bargaining agreement means the lockout is over.
So, let’s get to the exciting stuff: When is Opening Day? Which rule changes are going into effect? What sort of playoff format can we expect in 2022? Will a pitcher ever hit again? You have CBA questions, Boardroom has CBA answers.
1. 2022 Opening Day is April 7
Mark your calendars.
Spring Training Begins Sunday, March 13. And while Opening Day was originally scheduled for March 31, we won’t end up missing that mark by all that much: the 2022 regular season begins Thursday, April 7. After a 99-day lockout, you can afford to wait another week for the start of games that matter, right?
2. The 2022 MLB Season Will Include a Full 162 Games
Baseball fans were dismayed to learn over these past couple weeks that multiple scheduled series were cancelled, but rejoice! Talk of an abridged season have officially fallen by the wayside. We’re getting 162 regular season MLB games.
3. A Universal DH is the MLB’s Law of the Land
You might love it. You might hate it. But the universal designated hitter rule that fans of National League teams were mystified by during the COVID-shortened 2020 season is officially locked in after one year of absence.
The way this affects roster construction and in-game strategy is not to be underestimated.
4. Luxury Tax and Minumum Salaries Are Going Up
One of the most hotly contested elements of the lockout debate between players and owners?
- The CBT, or competitive balance tax, more commonly known as the luxury tax. It’s the soft salary cap threshold that teams are allowed to exceed, but must pay a sum back to the league to be split among non-taxpayer teams if they do.
- The minumum salary for fully tenured MLB players
As insider Jon Heyman notes, the luxury tax under the new CBA is bumped up nicely to $230 million (and scaled into four distinct tiers), while the minimum salary takes a notably leap all the way up to $700,000 per year.
5. A 12-team Playoff Format
This is big. Two additional teams will make the playoffs this season for a total of 12 — in total, 40% of the league.
Interestingly, the owners preferred a 14-team format (which means they probably ultimately covet a full-on 16-team setup like the NBA and NHL have).
6. Trades and Free Agency Resume Immediately!
The players voted yes. As soon as the league’s owners likewise vote in favor of the CBA, the offseason period that was suspended by the lockout resumes effective immediately.
Freddie Freeman! Carlos Correa! Kris Bryant! Trevor Story! From contract extensions to free agency and beyond, it’s open season once again.
Other Key Details From MLB’s New CBA
- No Rule 5 Draft this season
- Doubleheader games revert back to nine innings each
- No more free runners on second base for extra innings
- A new Joint Competition Committee has been formed with that ability to decide rules changes and put them into effect following 45 days’ notice
- Deadline for arbitration-eligible players and their teams to exchange salary numbers is March 22; actual arbitration hearings will not take place before the start of the regular season, notes The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal
- The bonus pool from which pre-arbitration players get paid is set at $50 million for the 2022 season
- The MLB Draft will feature 20 rounds
- Prospects who finish No. 1 or No. 2 in Rookie of the Year voting are guaranteed to be credited with a full year of service time even if they did not otherwise qualify for it, notes insider Mark Feinsand
- For the first time, advertisements will be permitted to be displayed on jerseys and batting helmets