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While the MLB lockout restricts players from contact with teams, teams can still contact one another to organize trade deals during the lockout.
The MLB lockout has frozen the baseball landscape in December, preventing remaining free agents from negotiating deals with potential new teams. According to the stipulations of the lockout, which is essentially “the antithesis to a players’ strike”, the MLB owners wield control as they negotiate an amenable collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the MLBPA.
While players and teams are forbidden from contacting one another until a new CBA is signed, teams can still speak with and coordinate with other teams. This means that while free agency signings cannot happen, trades between teams still can.
Despite the lockout, the MLB’s Winter Meetings are still scheduled to take place in Orlando, FL. Here, the framework for coordinating trades can still be put into place, as well as how teams will maneuver the conditions of the lockout.
MLB teams can still negotiate player trades during lockout
Currently, lockout talks appear to be in a frigid place.
MLB negotiators on behalf of the owners met with MLBPA representatives on Wednesday for a total of seven minutes before leaving their meeting in a dramatic flourish. The next day, the lockout was put into place, and the MLB website scrubbed the likeness of all MLB players from their website and social media. Many players across the league responded by changing their avatars to faceless profile pictures. Atlanta Braves pitcher Tyler Matzek went even further, using Robin Hood characters to illustrate the avarice of MLB owners and Robert Manfred.
This is the ninth work stoppage in MLB history, the last one taking place during the 1994-1995 season. In 1994, MLB players enacted a strike that ended the 1994 season and cancelled the 1994 World Series. The contention during that time was over enacting a salary cap, something MLB players vehemently opposed.
During that strike, Minnesota Twins right fielder Dave Winfield was traded as a “player to be named later” to the Cleveland Guardians. Winfield never played that season, and he actually signed as a free agent to Cleveland in 1995, but the story became famous because Winfield was believed to have been traded for a dinner. The MLB general mangers involved in the trade clarified the dinner was “a flippant remark” picked up by the press: the two GMs wanted Winfield to go to a better situation for nothing in return, so they celebrated the deal over dinner.
As jovial as that moment was for the general managers at the time, the 1994 strike was a powerful show of the will of MLB players to maintain standards for an equitable league. With players negotiating for better contracts early in their careers, the 2021 lockout could prove just as contentious.