When asked recently about the upcoming deadline, Harper made his feelings clear:
"“That’s going to be crazy for both sides of the game. But as players we want to be able to get on the field as quick as possible, and I think as ownership they want to to get on the field as quick as possible as well.”"
Here’s what you need to know about the MLB CBA expiring
At 11:59 PM on December 1, the current CBA, which went into effect in 2017, will expire. When it does, nearly everyone is expecting a lockout, due to the ongoing impasse between the players’ union (MLBPA) and MLB. If they do not reach a new agreement by the deadline, much like Cinderella’s carriage, baseball will turn into a pumpkin at midnight.
All in all, there have been five player strikes and three MLB lockouts in the history of the league. The most recent was the strike of 1994, which resulted in the cancellation of that year’s entire postseason. The good news is that in each of the three prior lockouts, no games were canceled. The same cannot be said for the strikes, three of which resulted in significant numbers of missed games.
Is MLB going on strike or is it a lockout?
The difference between a lockout and a strike is that a lockout is determined by the employer, while a strike is determined by the employee(s). So, in the case of MLB, if the team owners decide on a lockout, their front office executives cannot contact players or make any big-league roster moves. No blockbuster free-agent signings, no jaw-dropping trades, not even a boring player swap that barely makes waves. It’s ironic that owners are so eager to scrimp on lower-level players that they’re willing to prevent themselves from signing the superstars. It’s big ‘For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost’ energy.
Ultimately, these negotiations come down to money, which is something Harper doesn’t have to worry about. His contract is the richest in Phillies history, and one of the biggest in MLB history; he signed for 13 years and $330M in March 2019.
However, most MLB players won’t come close to earning what Harper has and will make. And despite MLB team valuations in the billions and revenue soaring before the pandemic, team owners still want to pinch pennies, so much so that they’re willing to enact the first MLB lockout of the millennium to do so. It’s a bad look for a game that already struggles to keep pace with the NFL and NBA in terms of popularity.
After a shortened 2020 season with no fans in the stands, and limited capacity at ballparks for a significant portion of the 2021 season, MLB and the MLBPA need to find common ground as soon as possible. It’s what fans, players, and the sport deserve amidst a still-raging pandemic.
Ideally, billionaire ball club owners would realize that satisfied employees (in this case, baseball players) deliver better results than unhappy ones, and simply acquiesce. But in reality, Harper is absolutely right: it’s going to be “crazy.”