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BASEBALL IS BACK!

The 99-day nightmare finally comes to an end, with Opening Day moved to April 7.

MLB: ALDS-Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

You guys, we made it.

BASEBALL. IS. ALL. THE. WAY. BACK!!!!!

After 99 agonizing days of a league-instituted lockout, we have finally reached a deal between MLB and the MLBPA, after the players voted to accept MLB’s counteroffer on Thursday. Who would have thought we would reach a deal today? Not me!

Jeff Passan broke the news this afternoon, sending baseball Twitter into a frenzy (for the second time of the day, pour one out for NFT Jeff Passan) by confirming that MLBPA had accepted the league’s offer.

Wednesday was an entire saga of negotiations, rejected offers, blame-shifting, and blown deadlines, but in the end, baseball prevailed, and we will have baseball back this spring. Negotiations started to get extra chippy by the end of the day yesterday, as the two sides worked through details and proposals for the international draft. The league continued their PR play against the union, and players were certainly unhappy at the way they were being portrayed in the way of the newest proposal, with Francisco Lindor taking to Twitter to share similar sentiment as Max Scherzer did Wednesday evening after Rob Manfred announced the removal of another week of games.

As we continued to hear news like this from the players, Thursday morning showed zero promise of a deal being completed. Of course, since all of MLB’s deadlines are fake, the two sides continued to negotiate and discuss the draft to prevent further damage to a sport that has already taken a massive hit over the last several months.

The first big news of Thursday was that the league and players reached an agreement for how to handle the international draft, once again creating momentum that would potentially suck all of us fans in for another potential gut punch of false hope and more canceled games. MLB and the MLBPA agreed to continue negotiating the international draft until July 25, confirming the removal of draft pick compensation for free agent signings. If the two sides are unable to reach a final agreement in July, then the international draft goes away and the international monies and draft compensation will remain the same as they were. As Ken Rosenthal reported, MLB submitted their counterproposal to the players at about 2 p.m. ET, moving closer towards the players in all three core economic issues (CBT, pre-arbitration pool, and minimum salary) and bringing real hope that a deal could be made by Thursday afternoon.

MLB instituted one last deadline of 3 p.m., to add some more tension to an already chaotic situation, because why not? I’m still not convinced Rob Manfred knows what a deadline is, but I digress. The players then took this to a vote, with some from certain clubs worried about the CBT threshold. But in the end, players voted to approve the CBA 26-12 — with the Mets, Yankees, Astros, and Cardinals as the four teams voting against the deal, along with all eight members of the MLBPA executive committee.

Additional Items connected to the final deal:

  • Full 162-game schedule
  • Nine-inning doubleheaders
  • End of the runner-on-second base extra-inning rule (good riddance)
  • Six draft lottery picks
  • Universal DH
  • 12-team expanded playoff
  • Players optioned a maximum of five times
  • Rule 5 draft eliminated for 2022
  • Steve Cohen Tax (fourth CBT threshold, taxed at 80% at $60M over base level)

It is also officially confirmed that MLB is able to implement new rule changes with a 45-day notice in the offseason, and as Evan Drellich reported, there will be a committee to discuss the rule changes — of course, MLB has more votes so we can likely assume that any rules they introduce will probably be implemented. It’s possible we even begin to see previously approved changes (larger bases, pitch clock, shift ban), applied as early as this season. The ever-evolving expanded playoff revealed some new details, and as awesome as MLB playoffs currently are, hopefully this only adds to that.

Another condition of the deal was that MLBPA would agree to drop the 2020 grievance they filed against the league due to missing out on so many games due to COVID. This was something that had fans worried a deal wouldn’t be done, because of course the league had to introduce something on the back end to complicate things. It ended up making no difference, and the players agreed to it anyways, but this was another bad-faith tactic by the owners. Thankfully, it isn’t impeding on the season, and we get baseball back.

As of 6 p.m. ET, free agency is officially unfrozen, so us fans should get some popcorn ready as we begin to see an insane amount of action in a small period of time. Players are expected to report to spring training by Sunday, March 13, with games tentatively set to kick off around March 18-20, and Opening Day taking place April 7.

White Sox fans … We made it! Now that we don’t have to worry about the CBA fiasco, we can go back to our regularly-scheduled programming of arguing over free agent signings, TLR lineups, and the value of Yoán Moncada as an elite player (please don’t do this one, though).

Opening Day will now be April 7, a day that honestly felt like it was never going to come. Bring on the free agency frenzy, and let’s hope Rick has secured a top seat at the adult’s table to make some power moves and get this show on the road.

Cheers to the 2022 White Sox — and to me for not having to write another “no deal” article.