Major League Baseball has officially entered its first lockdown since 1990 after months of talks over a new labor contract yielded little progress.
The previous collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ association ended at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred expressed his disappointment in the lockout in a statement.
"Despite the league's best efforts to make a deal with the Players Association, we were unable to extend our 26 year-long history of labor peace and come to an agreement with the MLBPA before the current CBA expired," Manfred wrote, according to ESPN. "Therefore, we have been forced to commence a lockout of Major League players, effective at 12:01am ET on December 2."
During the lockout, team officials and players are not allowed to communicate in any way.
The players’ association released a statement Thursday morning, that referred to the lockout as a dramatic measure, putting the onus for the stoppage of work on the owners.
"It was the owners' choice, plain and simple, specifically calculated to pressure Players into relinquishing rights and benefits, and abandoning good faith bargaining proposals that will benefit not Just Players, but the game and industry as a whole," the MLBPA said in its statement. "These tactics are not new. We have been here before, and Players have risen to the occasion time and again -- guided by a solidarity that has been forged over generations. We will do so again here.
"We remain determined to return to the field under the terms of a negotiated collective bargaining agreement that is fair to all parties, and provides fans with the best version of the game we all love."
Not surprisingly, economics are the main sticking point in the negotiations.
“Players feel, with the emergence of analytics within front offices, that fewer and fewer second- and third-tier players are getting paid when they finally become free agents after six years of major league service time, which is often when a player turns 30 or very close to it,” wrote ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. “In general, players would like to be paid more at younger ages because that's when they are in their prime. The system also favors keeping players in the minor leagues for several weeks extra to slow down their major league service time. Players hate that. Additionally, they feel the cycle of teams rebuilding (aka tanking) is limiting payrolls. They would like some guardrails within the system to prevent those cycles. One good thing for the players: As long as there is no salary cap, the system will always pay the best of the best -- something the league likes to emphasize. Owners haven't even offered a hard cap during negotiations.”
For his part, Manfred said he hopes the lockout will be a catalyst for negotiations going forward.
"We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time," Manfred said. "This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association's vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive. It's simply not a viable option. From the beginning, the MLBPA has been unwilling to move from their starting position, compromise, or collaborate on solutions."