Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have agreed to move this year’s deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players up from December 2 to November 30 at 8:00 pm EST, according to reports from Robert Murray of FanSided and Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (Twitter links).
The decision moves the tender deadline before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement, which is scheduled to happen at 11:59 pm EST on December 1. If a new agreement is not reached within the next eight days, it’s generally expected that the league would institute a lockout and subsequent transactions freeze. The MLBPA recently put together a 36-page document outlining the potential parameters of a lockout for players and their representatives, according to a report from Evan Drellich and Rosenthal.
Leaving the tender deadline on December 2 would’ve left arbitration-eligible players in a state of limbo over the course of a potential transactions freeze. Many could’ve been left with uncertainty about whether their current clubs intended to bring them back next season while awaiting a bargaining process that could take weeks or months to resolve.
Against that backdrop, the final few hours of the current CBA could present a hectic time for teams eager to finalize moves before the potential transactions freeze. Certain players, meanwhile, might feel pressure to sign contracts for 2022 rather than risk having to linger in free agency over the course of a lockout and face a potential rushed free agent period were CBA negotiations to linger near or into next year’s Spring Training. By forcing teams to make the final call on their arbitration-eligible players early, some non-tendered options could look to catch on with a new club on December 1 and avoid that uncertainty altogether.