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Friday Bird Droppings: BASEBALL. IS. BACK.

A new CBA has been signed. The lockout is over. Spring training starts tomorrow, Opening Day is in less than a month, and the next four weeks will be absolute madness on the free agent market. Let’s do this thing!

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Trumbo hits walk-off homer in 11th, Orioles beat Blue Jays, 3-2, on Opening Day
It’s official: in just one month, the Orioles will be jogging down the orange carpet for Opening Day.
Dylan Slagle/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

No, scratch that — it’s a great morning, Camden Chatters.

In case you missed the wonderful news, the MLB lockout is finally, actually, officially over. Major League Baseball is back.

After a labor dispute that halted the sport in its tracks for more than three months, MLB’s owners and the MLB Players’ Association set ink to paper on a new collective bargaining agreement yesterday afternoon. What a relief it is to everyone in baseball, and the millions of fans who were worried the season would be drastically cut short.

The deal is done. Baseball is open for business again, with spring training starting in two days. We’re even getting a full, 162-game regular season, which is certainly a pleasant surprise (though I might not feel that way in September when the Orioles on their way to their, like, 110th loss). Playing a full schedule seemed extremely unlikely after MLB canceled a second week of games just two nights ago, but yesterday’s agreement sparked the league to uncancel those games, meaning the Orioles will open the season April 8 in Tampa Bay, followed by their home opener on Monday, April 11 against the Brewers. The two series that were canceled from March 31-April 6 — against the Blue Jays and Red Sox — will be made up through doubleheaders during the season and three extra days tacked onto the end of the schedule.

The new CBA brings with it plenty of changes, both major and minor, many of which you can read about here. For one thing, there’s a 12-team postseason field now, which could marginally improve the Orioles’ chances of making the playoffs (though not this year, barring a miracle). Of particular relevance to the Birds, perhaps, are new incentives encouraging teams to promote top prospects early instead of manipulating their service time for extra club control. If a player is the Rookie of the Year winner or runner-up, he receives a full year of service time, regardless of what date he debuted in the majors. And if a rookie starts the year on the big league roster and finishes as a top-3 finalist for any major awards, the club receives extra draft picks.

I’m convinced. Seems like reason enough to put Adley Rutschman on the Opening Day roster. Make it happen, Orioles.

Also of note, in an anti-tanking measure, MLB has installed an NBA-style draft lottery for the first six picks. Every non-playoff team is eligible, with teams getting increasingly better odds depending on how bad they were. No longer is a team guaranteed the #1 draft pick by having the worst record in baseball. (Luckily for the Orioles, the lottery won’t go into effect until the 2023 draft, so their #1 pick for 2022 is secure.) And no team can be part of the lottery for three consecutive years, so teams that are terrible for years on end — I can think of one — can’t just continue getting the highest picks every time. That is, hopefully, something the Orioles will no longer have to worry about in the coming years anyway.

With the lockout officially lifted last night, teams are now free to make roster moves, which is going to lead to an absolute frenzy of trades, free-agent signings, and other transactions as teams scramble to fill out their teams. A number of huge names remain on the market, led by Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Clayton Kershaw, and plenty of others. The O’s don’t figure to be in the mix for any of those — unless you put a lot of stock into that Correa-Orioles story in Con Las Bases Llenas a couple of weeks ago — but, hey, at least they can finally complete their pre-lockout agreement with Jordan Lyles. Hooray?

Strap in, folks. The work stoppage is behind us, and things are about to get crazy in Major League Baseball. Let’s have some fun.

Links

Baseball is back; What’s in new CBA, and what’s next for Orioles? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff breaks down the many changes in the CBA, including the fact that seven-inning doubleheaders and the ghost-runner-on-second rules have been scrapped. As someone whose team was not particularly fun to watch the last couple of years, I was fine with the seven-inning doubleheaders, but I’m not heartbroken they’re gone.

Now that the business of baseball will resume, what do the Orioles do now? – The Athletic
Dan Connolly looks at what’s ahead for the Orioles, including the signing of a Matt Harvey-like starter. Not super exciting, I know, but it beats a lockout.

Rutschman keeps focus on field as baseball gets new CBA - School of Roch
Orioles prospects have had their run of Ed Smith Stadium during the last couple days of the lockout, but the big leaguers will be arriving in Sarasota this weekend. Something tells me Adley is going to fit in with them just fine.

Orioles React After MLB Reaches Labor Deal With Players, Ending Lockout – CBS Baltimore
A number of O’s players reacted to their return with celebratory posts on the ’Gram. (That’s short for Instagram, which I know because I’m young and hip.)

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Four former Orioles were born on March 11, including one who’s still active in the bigs, left-hander Rich Hill (42). Hill seemed to be on his way out of baseball after the then-29-year-old stumbled to a 7.80 ERA for the 2009 Orioles. If you’d told me back then that he would still be pitching in the majors 13 years later — and pitching well — I’d have had a hearty chuckle. He signed a $5 million deal with the Red Sox the day before the lockout started, so the O’s should be seeing plenty of him this season.

Other ex-Orioles born on this day include outfielder Phil Bradley (63), right-hander Steve Reed (57), and righty Frank Mata (38). Poor Frank Mata doesn’t even have a photo on Baseball Reference, despite playing in 2010. I hope he has a nice birthday, whatever he looks like.

On this day in 1991, Jim Palmer took the mound for the final time as an Oriole, a spring training game in which he gave up five hits in two innings to the Red Sox. The 45-year-old Palmer was attempting a return to baseball, seven years after he retired, but that dream ended the next day when he announced a hamstring tear had ended his comeback bid.