Cubs fan guide to post-lockout baseball world
After 99 days, the lockout has been lifted and Major League Baseball can get back to business — though it certainly won’t be business as usual.
This season will be unlike any other (good thing we’re all used to that by now!) and the game is going to look a little different with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. From rule changes to scheduling shakeups to a frenzied end of the offseason, the next few weeks are going to be jam-packed with news and entertainment. Transactions were unfrozen Thursday evening, allowing teams to sign players in free agency or discuss trades.
We’re here with a CliffsNotes version of what Cubs fans need to know as the 2022 season begins in earnest.
- Spring Training camps open Friday, March 11, with the mandatory report date set for March 13.
- Major League Baseball updated the Spring Training schedule Friday afternoon. Check out the Cubs’ complete Cactus League schedule here.
- It will be a condensed Spring Training, with less than four weeks for players and teams to get ready for the regular season.
- The Cubs open up the 2022 regular season on April 7 at Wrigley Field against the Milwaukee Brewers.
- MLB will play a full 162-game schedule with the schedule extending three days at the end of the year and 9-inning doubleheaders to make up the games.
- The Cubs have 3 games with the Reds in Cincinnati and 2 games against the Cardinals in Chicago to make up.
- Single-game tickets for the 2022 regular season go on sale on March 18. There is a First Pitch Presale that kicks off on March 11 and there are also a variety of ticket packages available, including a 14-game pack and a summer pack.
- Expanded playoffs — 12 teams will now make the playoff field, 6 from each league and the top 2 division leaders from each league will receive a first round bye.
- There will be a universal designated hitter. When the rule was in place for the 2020 season, the Cubs utilized a rotation of players at the position and also used the DH to keep Willson Contreras’ bat in the lineup regularly while limiting the physical toll of catching.
- A new draft lottery for the top 6 picks in the MLB draft.
- The league and Players Association will need to work out an agreement on a potential International Draft by July 25. In exchange, the league will get rid of the qualifying offer system for free agents.
- There will no longer be a runner on second base to start extra innings.
- Players can be optioned from the majors to the minors 5 times in a season.
- From a financial standpoint, the Competitive Balance Tax is set at $230 million for 2022. The minimum player salary will be $700,000 and there will be a $50 million bonus pool for pre-arbitration players.
- The Rule 5 Draft — which normally takes place during Winter Meetings in mid-December — has been canceled for this season.
- There are other rule changes that are slated to take effect in 2023, including a new scheduling format that will feature fewer divisional games and at least one series against every MLB opponent:
One interesting nugget in the new agreement: Starting in 2023, the schedule will feature fewer divisional games, and every team will play at least one series against every other opponent, including in the other league. The exact format is still being determined.— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) March 10, 2022
The Cubs made a major addition to the pitching staff in the hours before the lockout went into place in December.
Marcus Stroman signed a 3-year deal to come to Chicago and pitch in front of the fans at Wrigley Field.
Stroman — who turns 31 on May 1 — was an All-Star with the Blue Jays in 2019 and finished 8th in American League Cy Young voting in 2017. He was 10-13 with a 3.02 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in a league-leading 33 starts with the Mets last season.
The Cubs also claimed Wade Miley off waivers in November, pairing the veteran southpaw with Stroman and Kyle Hendricks atop the Chicago rotation.
Among the other pre-lockout deals, Jed Hoyer’s front office signed veteran catcher Yan Gomes and outfielder Clint Frazier and purchased the contract of Harold Ramírez from Cleveland.
With free agency now open, Hoyer and new GM Carter Hawkins can turn their attention to filling out the rest of the roster.
Stay tuned to Cubs 360 every evening at 6 p.m. for the latest news and information.