As October nears conclusion, MLB lockout looms in December

Seeing as how the World Series is already being framed in some corners as the Tomahawk Choppers vs. the Largely Unpunished Cheaters — with some games being played at the park that lost the All-Star Game — so the news of a looming lockout won’t really diminish the romance of the Fall Classic.

In the last dormant day before the series between the Astros and Braves begins, an article from Associated Press’ Ronald Blum painted a dreary forecast come December:

Baseball’s ninth work stoppage and first in 26 years appears almost certain to start Dec. 2, freezing the free-agent market and threatening the start of spring training in February.

Negotiations have been taking place since last spring, and each side thinks the other has not made proposals that will lead toward an agreement replacing the five-year contract that expires at 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 1.

There hasn’t been much news about offers exchanged by the league and the MLBPA, and the ones that we know about — which included a salary floor but also a lowering of the luxury tax cap, and universal free agency at 29½ with an firm arb-year money pool — don’t seem intended to put a real dent in negotiations.

New York Daily News columnist Bill Madden says the winter meetings are being cancelled …

… which would only be worse news if they were to be held in Nashville, which seemed like the original plan for 2021 before the pandemic took the 2020 meetings off the calendar.

It’s only fitting that baseball would lock out players right at a key point of the White Sox’s evolution into World Series threats, given that the strike in 1994 interrupted the White Sox’s previous best shot at establishing a golden age. As we discussed way back in 2018, we’re basically all living in a Jerry Reinsdorf Groundhog Day simulation where he has to learn that his feelings about labor negotiations can’t poison the product.

Reinsdorf supposedly isn’t a part of the labor committee this time around, and he’s trying to sound less hawkish about it:

Whether that has galvanized players for a more vigorous fight against those provisions this time around, “I know this,” Reinsdorf said. “I looked at our last offer, and boy, it looked to me like it was a very fair offer.”

That was the recently reported offer that included a payroll “floor” for teams, he said, but one that also included a lower luxury-tax threshold than any of the last four years.

“I’m not saying that they should have accepted it, but it’s certainly something to negotiate off of,” Reinsdorf said. “I don’t know; I don’t have a feel [for the progress]. I just hope it works out.”

But nobody can ignore a four-decade track record for two separate Chicago teams where he’ll exercise whatever power he has in an attempt to wrestle a deal in his favor, regardless of the kind of grip he has on the levers.

I’m not too concerned with the idea of a work stoppage itself, if only because 26 years is a long time to go without one, and labor occasionally has to stand firm to try to reset terms. It’s especially true in a lockout situation, where players can often get the brunt of the ire for a freeze that the league initiated.

Blum outlined one potential future by looking at the most recent lockout lockout …

This lack of pace in negotiations is similar to what occurred in 1989-90, when the agreement expired Dec. 31 and owners announced on Jan. 9 that a lockout would begin Feb. 15 absent an agreement. A deal was reached March 1 and opening day was delayed a week until April 9, causing 78 games to be postponed and rescheduled.

… although as Marc Normandin at Baseball Prospectus notes, the labor situation of 1990 can’t really compare, as the players were galvanized by three seasons of collusion, a price the owners eventually paid, with severe grudges.

Given the postures of the parties, there probably won’t be good news for weeks, even if a lockout never materializes. The negotiations over the 2020 season showed that the deadlines prompted activity better than anything else. These negotiations are larger and have much greater ramifications for the direction of the sport, so we’re probably in for some hard-nosed jousting.

Some silver lining is that the slower pace of recent offseasons probably has fans better conditioned to absorb a temporary freeze, since players haven’t come flying off the board at the start of free agency over previous winters. We also have recent experience in writing and talking around a complete lack of activity, so maybe that’s the one way this pandemic has been useful.

(Photo by Arturo Pardavila III)

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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29.5 year old Free Agency and lower “soft cap” was not getting players on board to even negotiate. Players should have countered with 25 y/o free agency, 156 game season,$300M soft cap and growing, $150M floor and only budge on those numbers with “full books” open to players to review.


I seem to recall that an analysis of the owners’ luxury tax/payroll floor proposal had the players losing money on net. The owners have backed themselves into a corner by treating the luxury tax as a loathsome burden. Hard to convince the players that they aren’t going to continue treating it as a de facto hard cap.


Manfred is a more evil Selig with a better tailor.


Manfred is a Selig who tips his barber


I’ll just leave this quote by Manfred here:

The Braves have done a phenomenal job with the Native American community. It’s important to understand that we have 30 markets around the country. They aren’t all the same. … The Native American community in that region is wholly supportive of the Braves program, including ‘The Chop.’ For me, that’s kind of the end of the story. In that market, we’re taking into account the Native American community.

As Cirensica

Worst Commissionaire ever despite of Selig pushing the bar very high.


Peter Ueberroth would like to have a word with you.


I have to admit I hadn’t even read the entire thing until just now. After the part that I quoted above I stopped reading it because I didn’t feel well.


I 100% want to see Ozzie managing another MLB team and 200% want it to be any team but the White Sox


I would 500% want Ozzie to manage the Sox over who they are stuck with.

As Cirensica

I hear you. It seems to me that the days of hiring recently retired players with an incredible inexperience resume is over. This is good for baseball.

Last edited 1 year ago by As Cirensica

I’d take an inexperienced resume over someone with poor energy and motivational skills, along with declining vitality and cognitive ability.

As Cirensica

No thank you. I take the latter. I don’t think I can stand another Robin Ventura.


Well you will get your choice. The latter is what they’ve got.

Trooper Galactus

Robin Ventura being like a four-star general would explain a lot about the last twenty years.


Amen. Realizing I’d take Ozzie over the TLR is what made me realize how bad TLR is.


This would be cool from a sheer entertainment perspective. Get the popcorn and watch the fireworks.

Root Cause

All this talk about these managerial options is making the lock out look a lot more attractive


I may be alone but I would love to see a hard cap and a hard floor. Its ridiculous watching the yankees and dodgers among others operate 200+million payrolls and then teams like the Marlins, Pirates, Orioles, whoever operate at a payroll well below just what they are bringing in on tv contracts and shared revenue.

Id like to see the low revenue teams move to more up and coming markets, Vegas, Charlotte, Montreal, Nashville, Portland… to name a few options

Also give me an international draft, free agency at age 28.5, and universal DH


One thing that would help is if they simply pooled all broadcast revenue – local and national – and split it evenly 30 ways. Then heavily skew gate receipts to the home team.

Kansas City can’t push their market into the top 10, but they can field a good team and provide a fun atmosphere and push their attendance into the top 10. They shouldn’t be punished for the former and should be rewarded for the latter.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Teams like KC and Pittsburgh already get plenty of revenue sharing money, they just don’t spend it. Every team in the league should already be capable of fielding a competitive team somewhat regularly.

Last edited 1 year ago by Right Size Wrong Shape
Joliet Orange Sox

I think teams moving should only be done when the problem is clearly the market they are located in. We’re all fans of a team that seriously considered moving around 1970 and again in the late 1980’s and the problem was never the market.

You bring up Montreal as possible place to move to when the Expos just left after 2004. Washington, Kansas City, and Seattle are all places that MLB left only to return to and it may happen in Montreal.

I’m not sure what the solution to MLB’s inequalities is but hard cap, hard floor, and low revenue teams move doesn’t strike me as the answer.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joliet Orange Sox

They need to get creative with the bargaining. Look at how many players on our team have gone for locking in guaranteed money over risking things for more money later. Why? Players want security. It’s generational wealth either way. Use this knowledge to craft a proposal that the players would listen to.

They should institute automatic salary escalators starting in your second year. Nobody wins when a player putting up big numbers is making $600k. Let players go to free agency a year sooner. Institute a salary floor, and keep the “cap” the way it is now if the players will agree to it.