(CNN) — The collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ union expired at 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday, leading to the first official work stoppage in professional baseball since the 1994-95 seasons.
The lockout will prevent players from using team facilities as well as free agents from signing new contracts until a new CBA is reached.
In a letter to fans, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said: “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. Therefore, we have been forced to commence a lockout of Major League players, effective at 12:01am ET on December 2.”
The MLB Players Association released a statement, saying in part: “This shutdown is a dramatic measure, regardless of the timing. It is not required by law or for any other reason. 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.”
Negotiators for the league and union met in Irving, Texas, on Wednesday to hash out a possible agreement over finances and free agency rights before the deadline, yet talks ended after just seven minutes, according to ESPN. The sides had been meeting throughout the week.
MLB said the Major League portion of the 2021 Winter Meetings are canceled, yet the Minor Leagues will continue as planned.
It’s unclear how long a work stoppage will last. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training in mid-February with Grapefruit and Cactus League play set to open on February 26. Opening Day is scheduled for March 31. But both of those require a new CBA to be in place.
A strike by the players’ union in 1994 led to the cancellation of that year’s World Series. The strike continued into the 1995 season before an agreement was reached in April, shortening the season from 162 to 144 games.
In 2002, a new agreement was reached hours before a strike deadline set by players, marking the first time in 30 years a CBA was ratified without a work stoppage. Similarly, a last-minute deal at the deadline was made in 2016, lasting for five years.