What does the MLB lockout mean for Braves and talks to re-sign Freddie Freeman?

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Atlanta Braves fans haven’t stopped celebrating last month’s World Series title, but now baseball has labor issues that could impact the 2022 season and one of the team’s most popular players.

Talks between Major League Baseball and MLBPA ended Wednesday night without the two sides agreeing on a new collective bargaining agreement. Without a deal in place, MLB owners officially instituted a lockout at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

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“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,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

“This drastic and unnecessary measure will not affect the players’ resolve to reach a fair contract,” MLBPA union head Tony Clark said in a statement. “We remain committed to negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement that enhances competition, improves the product for our fans, and advances the rights and benefits of our membership.”

Here is what to know about the CBA negotiations and how it will impact the Braves offseason.

What is a collective bargaining agreement and what are the biggest issues?

The collective bargaining agreement is a written contract between the team’s owners and players union that outlines all game operations on the major league level. It includes everything from player salaries to scheduling and postseason rules.

The previous CBA was signed in 2016 on a four-year deal. The current lockout is the ninth work stoppage in MLB history. It is the first stoppage since the 1994-95 players strike.

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So what are the biggest issues players and owners are disagreeing on? Most of the tension is over the revenue sharing, salary arbitration, free agency and luxury taxes along with other economic issues. The two sides also disagree on the best way to expand the postseason.

Both sides seem to agree on a universal designated hitter after it was tested in the 2020 shortened season and proposing uniform advertising patches.

What does the lockout mean for Braves trying to sign players like Freddie Freeman?

Freeman is the Braves’ biggest free agent on the market right now. The talks between the two sides have been happening all year but a deal hasn’t been reached.

During a lockout, teams aren’t able to sign major league players to new contracts or agree to trades.

That means the Braves can’t officially re-sign Freeman or any other free agents like World Series MVP Jorge Soler or NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario until the lockout is over.

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How does the lockout affect other players?

The lockout also means that players are barred access from team facilities. Several key Braves players have been rehabbing injuries, including star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and pitchers Mike Soroka and Charlie Morton.

The players will have to use facilities and weight rooms away from the team. Team personnel are also barred from providing instructional videos or other aids for players to use on their own.

Teams can continue to provide players with support regarding mental health resources along with advice and assistance with respect to COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and treatment.

Will the Braves spring training and season start on time?

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training 11 weeks from now on Feb. 16. That leaves less than 70 days to reach a deal if spring training is to start on time. The league has previously required a minimum of three weeks of organized workouts before the season.

If a deal is reached, spring training could be shortened to keep opening day for March 31 or delayed, which would push the start of the season back.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.