By RONALD BLUM AP Baseball Writer
HOUSTON (AP) – Baseball’s ninth work stoppage and the first in 26 years looks almost certain to start on December 2, freezing the free agent market and threatening the start of spring training in February.
Negotiations have been going on since last spring, and each side believes the other hasn’t made any proposals that will lead to a deal replacing the five-year contract that expires at 11:59 p.m. EST on December 1.
The luxury tax system that started with the 2003 season ends with the expiration of the employment contract, with the exception of the completion of accounting and payments for the 2021 fiscal year. Uncertainty over the course of the 2022 season will likely cause spending clubs to delay entering into more costly player deals.
Free agents can start signing with any team on day six after the World Series, and this year’s squad includes Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Freddie Freeman, Trevor Story, Max Scherzer, Marcus Semien, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Michael Conforto and Kevin Gausman.
MLB may attempt a sign freeze with the onset of a lockout, or the market could shut down on its own, even more pronounced than the slowdowns in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 offseason.
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman doesn’t know the parameters of what to spend.