Players have voted to accept Major League Baseball’s latest offer for a new labor deal, paving the way to end a 99-day lockout and salvage a 162-game regular season.
The union’s executive board approved the agreement in a 26-12 vote, pending ratification by all players, a person familiar with the balloting said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no announcement was authorized.
MLB sent the players an offer Thursday and gave them until 3 p.m. to accept in order to play a full season. The union announced the player vote around 3:25 p.m. Owners had discussed the deal before MLB sent it to the players association.
The agreement will allow training camps to open this week in Florida and Arizona, more than three weeks after they were scheduled to on February 16. Opening day is being planned for April 7, a little more than a week behind the original date on March 31.
The deal will also set off a rapid-fire round of free agency. Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman and Kris Bryant are among 139 big leaguers still without teams, including some who might benefit from the adoption of a universal designated hitter.
Talks aimed at ending the lockout had bogged down on the draft issue Wednesday, and baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred canceled 93 more games, raising the total to 184. He said opening day would be no earlier than April 14.
In MLB’s proposal for an international draft, teams would rotate picking in different quadrants of the first round over a four-year period. A slotting system would be installed similar to what the union agreed to starting in 2012 for the amateur draft covering residents of the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.
The international draft proposal includes hard slots that could not be negotiated by individuals. MLB estimates $17 million in additional spending for the drafted international players above the $166.3 million spent by the 30 teams in 2021, plus an additional $6 million on non-drafted players. The draft would start in 2024.
International players would lose the right to pick which team they sign with. The age for the draft would be in the year a player turns 16.
“The narrative being pushed also ignores a lot of history, including corruption from clubs,” Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor tweeted. “This issue is bigger than just Latin players or amateur players. It’s about all players and about the future of the game.”