Friday Farming: What the MLB lockout means for the Mets' minor leaguers

2021 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game
2021 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

At 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday night, Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expired. Moments later, the league chose to lockout the players. How will this affect the New York Mets and their minor leaguers?

Well, for starters, it is baseball's first work stoppage since the 1994-95 season. So this is sort of uncommon for each league.

In the last few days, the MLB and MLB Player's Association have traded proposals. At the core of the labor dispute is how Major League Baseball decides to distribute the player portion of its $10 billion per year business.

So what stops during a lockout and how does it affect the Mets and their minor league system?

First, there's a freeze on transactions. Dec. 1 acted as a "free agency deadline" in a way as some of the sport's best players made deals prior to that date.

However, the lockout only affects MLBPA union members, which most minor league players are not part of. So minor league signings and transactions alike may happen.

This hasn't always been the case, as some older Mets fans may remember trading Vince Coleman to the Kansas City Royals for Kevin McReynolds during 1994-95's strike.

Players will still be paid, sort of. Some players, such as José Berrios, are owed big bonuses in the coming months. The union has also been able to offer financial assistance to some players in past lockouts, although far from their actual salary.

As for the actual playing of minor league games, those should still occur. Based on past precedent, they should. One of the bigger exceptions would be players on the 40-man roster.

Notably, the deadline to submit clubs' 40-man rosters was Dec. 19. It was the only way to protect minor leaguers from being eligible for the Major League portion of the Rule 5 draft. The Minor League portion should still go on.

The New York Mets selected to promote pitcher José Butto, shortstop Ronny Mauricio, pitcher Adam Oller, and third baseman Mark Vientos. These players are now part of the MLBPA and will be seen as crossing the picket line if they choose to play in the minors. Non 40-man roster players are free to play, however.

The 2022 minor league season is scheduled to begin on April 8. It's very possible we could begin to see nationally broadcast minor league games if there is no MLB season next year. ESPN decided to broadcast Korean league games during the pandemic shutdown last year.

Minor leaguers not on the Mets' 40-man roster include third baseman Brett Baty, catcher Francisco Alvarez, and pitcher J.T. Ginn. Outside of the Mets, catcher Adley Rutschman (Orioles), outfielder Riley Greene (Tigers), and shortstop Bobby Witt Jr (Royals) are not on their clubs' 40-man rosters either.

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