Unfortunately for baseball fans, Major League Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the MLB Players’ Association expired at midnight on Wednesday evening. As a result, the league’s 30 owners voted to lock the players out for the first time since 1994-95, creating a work stoppage.

Earlier this week, MLB officials met with their union counterparts and players on the MLBPA’s executive council in Irving, Texas, to try come to an agreement. However, both sides did tweak their proposals but were still unable to agree, bringing on the lockout. From the looks of it, a new deal probably will not come until 2022. This raises the question: what does a lockout entail?

What is a lockout?

The lockout will freeze signings, cancellation of the annual winter meetings in Orlando, Florida and stop players from team workout facilities.

Essentially, a lockout means no trades, no free-agent signings and no players allowed inside club facilities. Not only that, contact between free agents and teams or players on their 40-man rosters is prohibited. Team personnel is also not allowed to speak publicly about players in any manner.

Naturally, this news is disappointing for players and fans alike, especially considering how exciting the offseason has been thus far in terms of free-agent signings. On the player’s side, a lockout conducted during the offseason is less risky than an in-season work stoppage would be since players won’t lose their paychecks until the regular season begins. This begs the question: when will baseball return?

When will baseball return?

There are a total of 11 weeks remaining until pitchers and catchers are set to report to their respective Spring Training sites on February 16. This leaves 70 days for the two sides to reach a deal so the regular season can begin on time. Baseball’s Opening Day is set for Match 31, and a minimum of three weeks of organized workouts may be required as they were in the past. Only time will tell if the season will be able to start on time.

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