After 99 days of a work stoppage, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association finally reached a deal so baseball could make a return. On March 10, both sides signed an agreement.
In the week leading up to the signing of the agreement, there were problems around how international players should work and if there should be a draft for international players. The MLB wanted a draft of international players, whereas the Players Association opposed such a proposal. The MLB and the Players Association agreed on a July 25 deadline to establish an international draft that would start in 2024.
In recent years, there have been international players who have taken the baseball world by storm, such as Shohei Ohtani, who is a two-way pitcher who can also bat.
Another issue that affects almost all sports is money. The Players Association wanted more money for the players, but the team owners didn’t always like that.
Revenue for baseball is a little different from other sports, since revenue isn’t always evenly dispersed among the 30 teams. Since teams can be different size markets, the team’s payroll isn’t always going to be the same. Therefore, players aren’t always going to get paid the same amount, even though they might have the same amount of talent.
The owners of smaller teams have to make a decision where to spend the limited funds they have, which, in return, may end up lowering the players’ salaries. The agreement states now that the minimum salary for major league players is $700,000.
Rob Manfred, the commissioner of the MLB, had started to cancel games because a deal hadn’t been reached. The two weeks that had been canceled by the commissioner will be made up, still making the regular season 162 games.
With the new agreement, there will be a few changes to the baseball rules. The MLB will be introducing a universal designated hitter, or DH for short. The DH position is unique because the player is part of the batting lineup but does not play in the field during the game.
In baseball, there are two conferences: the American League (AL) and the National League (NL). The AL has had a DH since 1973, while the NL had a different rule. The NL rule was that the pitcher would have to both pitch and hit.
If an AL team and an NL team played against each other, the game would follow the league rules of the home team. Most of the time, a pitcher is not usually the best hitter, and sometimes teams may get to the bottom of the lineup and would have to sub out their pitcher so they could get a pinch hitter. If a team uses a pinch hitter, the pitcher would no longer be able to go back in and play.
This scenario would no longer happen since pitchers in both leagues would never have to hit if they weren’t the best at it. The universal DH might change the way the NL teams play, since they haven’t had the position of DH, unlike the AL teams.
Another change is that instead of 10 teams making the playoffs, there will be 12.
Once the news broke that baseball would finally be making a comeback, free agency was abuzz all around the MLB. The free agency period for baseball is where players can look for new teams or sign another contract extension with their current team. Teams were getting ready for players, while also looking for some key players that they could pick up. These past couple weeks have been filled with breaking news about players finding new teams or getting a contract extension.
One of the key players who were free agents include Freddie Freeman. Freeman was one of the biggest free agents after helping his team, the Atlanta Braves, reach and win the World Series. The Braves, however, didn’t sign Freeman to a contract extension, instead opting to trade for Matt Olson from the Oakland A’s. Olson, a first baseman, received an eight-year contract to stay with the Braves. Since the Braves chose not to extend Freeman, he was forced to find a new team elsewhere. Freeman decided to sign a six-year contract with the LA Dodgers.
This year will be an exciting year for fans with baseball returning. Many teams are excited to return to the field, while many fans are excited to return to stadiums to cheer on their favorite teams. With 162 games under baseball’s belt, fans always have many things to look forward to with opening Day scheduled for April 7.