On the 99th day of the Major League Baseball lockout, there's finally a deal.
MLB and the players' union have reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, ending the stalemate and preserving a 162-game schedule. Business — which has been paused since the lockout began — can officially begin, the free-agent market having opened up at 5 p.m. MT on Thursday.
There are still more than 200 unsigned players, including Trevor Story, who is not expected to return to the Rockies.
Spring training — which is normally six weeks — will be condensed to four, with players arriving as early as Friday and games starting late next week. Opening day will be April 7, a little more than a week after the original March 31 date. Since April 7 was a scheduled off-day for the Rockies, they will begin their season on April 8 against the Dodgers at Coors Field.
MLB canceled the first two series a week ago, after the sides failed to come to an agreement after a week of negotiating sessions in Florida. The sides reconvened, but missed another deadline on Tuesday, prompting MLB to cancel the third and fourth series of the season. But, after a deal was reached on Thursday, they reinstated those games.
The regular season will end three days later, and those games will be made up on off-days and doubleheaders. The Rockies will need to reschedule four games against the Dodgers and two against the Padres.
In the end, one of the biggest issues halting momentum was the international draft. The owners have wanted one for years, but the players strongly disagree. Instead of letting that issue hold back the season, the sides agreed to push back the deadline for that decision until July 25. If an international draft is implemented, it wouldn't start until 2024.
The new deal includes:
• A new competitive balance tax (CBT) that raises the minimum from $230 million to $244 million during the five-year deal.
• An increase in the minimum salary from $570,000 to $700,000, eventually up to $780,000, for players with less than three of service time.
• A designated hitter in the National League.
• Expanded playoffs with 12 teams.
• A return to nine-inning doubleheaders and no more ghost runners in extra innings.
Now, the most difficult challenge facing MLB is getting all of their players to spring training, especially the ones overseas who need to obtain visas. Teams have not been allowed to talk to their players during the lockout, and therefore are unaware of some of their whereabouts.
The Rockies made only a small splash in the pre-lockout free-agency frenzy, re-signing Jhoulys Chacín to a one-year deal. Among their needs are a power outfielder, more pitching depth and probably another infielder to fill out their left side with Story on his way out.
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