Over three months after MLB team owners began the lockout, it’s finally come to an end.
On March 10, the MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) settled on a new collective bargaining agreement, which means that the 2022 baseball season if officially back on.
And while the new labor deal comes as a relief to fans, it comes after a particularly contentious period for the league and comes with a few big changes to pro baseball. Here’s what to expect going forward.
When does the 2022 MLB season begin?
The original spring training dates were postponed due to the lockout.
Now, players are required to report to their spring training camps by Sunday, although they can voluntarily report as early as today — just one day after the agreement was finalized.
Opening Day isn’t far behind. It’s been moved to April 7, which is only 27 days for those who are eager to start their countdowns.
The MLB won’t have to trim any games from the schedule, either. There will still be a full 162-game season.
Any regular season games originally planned for March 31 through April 6 will be rescheduled by extending the season by three days and including some nine-inning doubleheaders along the way.
What changes were made in the new agreement?
Many fans are curious about what went down in the weeks-long talks between the MLB and MLBPA during the lockout. Here are some of the main changes in the new collective bargaining agreement:
- Minimum salaries are increasing from $570,500 to $700,000.
- The Competitive Balance Tax will start at $230 million and go up to $244 million in 2026.
- A $50 million pre-arbitration bonus pool was established to reward top players.
- Limits were placed on the number of times a player can be optioned to the minor leagues in one season.
- A draft lottery was created to discourage tanking.
There may be a few more tweaks to come as the agreement includes a 45-day period in which the MLB can implement additional changes to the rules. If any changes are made during that time, they’ll be put into effect in the 2023 season.
What will be different this season?
Fans might be surprised to discover some of the big changes in league play this season as a direct result of the new collective bargaining agreement.
One of the most exciting developments is the shift to an expanded 12-team format for the playoffs. With more teams competing in the postseason for a chance at the World Series title, there will undoubtedly be a bigger buildup of excitement in the last few weeks of the regular season.
The fate of over 200 players still on the free-agent market and without a team — including Kris Bryant, Freddie Freeman and Trevor Story — can now be settled as well.
Free agency was able to start back up immediately following the agreement, so fans can expect to see a surge of signings in the coming weeks.