Major League Baseball locked out its players on Thursday after failing to reach terms on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ahead of a midnight deadline.

The decision halts all player activity as it relates to their clubs, including free-agent signings, trades and use of team facilities.

“Despite the league’s best efforts to make a deal with the Players Association, we were unable to extend our 26 year-long history of labor peace and come to an agreement with the MLBPA before the current CBA expired,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a letter to fans. “Therefore, we have been forced to commence a lockout of Major League players, effective at 12:01 a.m. ET on Dec. 2.”

It marks the first work stoppage in MLB since the players’ strike of 1994-95.

That labor dispute forced a premature end to the season, delayed the start of the following year’s campaign and turned off fans as attendance plummeted when play finally resumed.

“The shutdown is a dramatic measure, regardless of the timing,” the players’ association (MLBPA) said. “It was the owners’ choice, plain and simple, specifically calculated to pressure players into relinquishing rights and benefits and abandoning good faith bargaining proposals.”

Among the main issues were that owners and players did not agree on service time toward free agency, playoff expansion, a luxury tax and possible salary floor and several proposed rule changes according to media reports.

This stoppage comes in baseball’s offseason, giving negotiators more than two months before the start of spring training.

Manfred, however, was already ratcheting up the rhetoric, blaming the MLBPA for intransigence during negotiations.

“From the beginning, the MLBPA has been unwilling to move from their starting position, compromise, or collaborate on solutions,” Manfred said in his statement, adding that the union “already had a contract that they wouldn’t trade for any other in sports.”

Owners offered several ideas last week, including an increase in minimum player salaries, creating a designated hitter rule for the National League that would end the practice of pitchers coming to the plate and the creation of an NBA-style lottery for top MLB Draft picks.

Manfred pointed to the fact there is no salary cap in baseball and no maximum length or dollar amount on contracts as evidence that players are getting their share of baseball revenue.

He also rejected the idea that free agency is “broken,” pointing to a rash of recent big-money free agent signings that included the Texas Rangers signing Corey Seager to a 10-year deal for a $325 million contract and 37-year-old star pitcher Max Scherzer signing a three-year deal for $130 million with the New York Mets.

“In the month of November $1.7 billion was committed to free agents, smashing the prior record by nearly 4x,” Manfred wrote.

MLB and MLBPA representatives had met again on Wednesday afternoon in suburban Dallas, prior to the midnight deadline.

“We remain determined to return to the field under the terms of a negotiated collective bargaining agreement that is fair to all parties, and provides fans with the best version of the game we all love,” the union said in its statement.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.