MLB owners and players reach tentative working agreement

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions during an MLB owners meeting at the Waldorf Astoria on February 10, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.

Julio Aguilar | Getty Images

Major League Baseball and the sport’s players union reached a tentative labor agreement Thursday that would pave the way for the start of spring training games and Opening Day in early April.

A person familiar with the matter told CNBC the deal was subject to ratification. Twenty-three of MLB’s 30 owners must approve the deal. The players’ association executive committee and the players’ representatives voted in favor of the deal.

The breakthrough came 99 days after the player lockout was imposed by the owner after the parties failed to reach a new collective agreement. Spring training had been cancelled.

The season was originally scheduled to start on March 31. The owners canceled the start of the season last week after they were unable to reach an agreement with the players within league-imposed deadlines.

Now the season is set to start on April 7, according to ESPN, which first announced the deal. The season would be extended by three days and the schedule would include several doubleheaders to make up for any lost games.

The Sports Information Network reported that players can start showing up for spring training as early as Friday. Spring training games could start as early as March 18.

On Wednesday night, MLB owners had said they would cancel more games and push back Opening Day until April 14, failing a deal.

Among the sticking points was how much to increase the number of teams making the playoffs. The new format will see 12 teams in the playoffs, up from 10. The National League will also adopt the designated hitter role, meaning pitchers will no longer have to hit in games in that league.

Additionally, MLB’s minimum wage will start at $700,000 and increase by $20,000 per year over the term of the five-year deal. MLB’s luxury tax line will also start at $230 million and increase to $244 million in the fifth year of the new deal. In the last ACA, the tax line was $210 million.

And on the gameplay front, a pitcher clock and limiting defensive changes will be added starting in 2023. The changes could help improve game action and reduce duration.

Free agency and player signings are expected to resume later Thursday after the deal is finalized.

MLB owners had received the lion’s share of the blame for the lockdown.

A study published by research firm Morning Consult said 45% of fans blamed MLB owners for not getting a new deal. That’s up from the 33% who blamed owners for the dispute over the shortened 2020 season. Twenty-one percent blamed the players.

This is breaking news. Please check for updates.

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