The Toronto Blue Jays are finally back at spring training.
Stars Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette were among the players who reported to Toronto’s training camp this morning.
The players got to work at the Blue Jays facility in Dunedin, Fla., a day after Major League Baseball settled its labor strife.
A lockout had threatened to cancel the 2022 season until an agreement was reached between MLB and its players’ association late Thursday.
Toronto had its 2020 and 2021 seasons disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Blue Jays only playing half their home games — often with limited capacity — at Rogers Centre.
Capacity limits will be lifted in Ontario by the time Toronto hosts the Texas Rangers in their home opener on April 8, but COVID-19 regulations will still potentially impact the rosters of visiting clubs.
Canada still has a mandatory quarantine period for unvaccinated travelers entering the country, effectively keeping MLB players who have not received their shots off the field at Rogers Centre.
Sources confirmed to The Canadian Press on Friday that players on teams visiting the Blue Jays who are not fully vaccinated would be placed on a restricted list for the length of their series in Toronto.
Putting players on the restricted list will open up roster spots for the visiting team. The unvaccinated players will not enter Canada.
The new collective bargaining agreement raises the competitive-balance tax threshold by US$34 million over five years, up from a $21 million hike over the 2017-21 deal and an $11 million rise from 2011-16.
Young star players like Guerrero and Bichette were the biggest beneficiaries of the deal.
Shohei Ohtani earned $545,000 in 2018, when he was voted American League Rookie of the Year. Had the new agreement been in place then, he would have earned an additional $750,000.
Cody Bellinger was at $605,000 in 2019, when he won National League MVP. Under the new deal, he would have gotten an extra $2.5 million.
The 22-year-old Guerrero finished second in AL MVP voting last season, earning 269 votes to Ohtani’s 420.
Guerrero finished last season with a .311 batting average, leading the majors with 48 home runs and 123 runs. His .401 on-base percentage, .601 slugging percentage, and 1.002 OPS were the best in the AL.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2022.