The MLB Players Association and the league’s owners reached a settlement on a new five-year collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday night. The agreement came just hours before the deadline of December 1, and it will be in effect until 2021.
According to the Associated Press, the new CBA includes a number of changes that will affect all of baseball going forward. Some of these are fairly simple, like increased drug testing, an increased major league minimum salary for every year of the CBA, a lessened drop-off in slot values for the first round of the amateur draft, and four more scheduled days off during the season, beginning in 2018.
Some changes are quite significant, though. The All-Star Game will no longer determine home field advantage for the World Series; it will now be given to the pennant-winner with the best regular season record. Additionally, the 15-day disabled list has been shortened to a 10-day disabled list, allowing players with minor ailments to miss fewer games if they don’t need long to recover.
Furthermore, smokeless tobacco is now banned for all players with no accrued major league service time. All active players are considered to be “grandfathered in” and will be allowed to continue using smokeless tobacco. Also, there is now a hard cap on the annual international bonus pool for every team, which is now $4.75 million. This will go into effect during the next signing period that begins on July 2.
There are also some revisions to the luxury tax system. The threshold will rise from $189 million to $195 million next year, and then it will rise to $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in 2021. Those who exceed the threshold will see their tax rates increase from the previous CBA. The first offenders’ penalty will raise from 17 to 20 percent, second offenders’ penalties will remain at 30 percent, and third offenders’ penalties will increase from 40 to 50 percent. What’s more, teams that are over the threshold by more than 20 percent will now have to pay additional surtaxes.
The most complex changes, however, come to the qualifying offer system. Firstly, under this new system, a player can only receive a qualifying offer once in his entire career. So, for example, the Mets cannot offer Neil Walker another qualifying offer next offseason since he was issued a qualifying offer this offseason.
Secondly, any team that signed a player who declined a qualifying offer under the previous system immediately lost its highest unprotected draft pick as compensation, as we saw when the Mets signed Michael Cuddyer in 2014. But now, that club—only if it pays luxury tax—will lose its second- and fifth-highest picks, in addition to a loss of $1 million in its international draft pool. But if said team does not pay a luxury tax, it will only forfeit its third-highest amateur draft pick if it’s a revenue-sharing receiver, and its second-highest pick and $500,000 in the international draft pool if it’s not a revenue-sharing receiver.
MLB’s revenue sharing system disqualified the 15 teams from the largest markets from receiving revenue sharing in 2016 and beyond. The Athletics will also be phased out of revenue sharing in the coming years, as per this new CBA. This means that half the league will fall under the former category, and half the league will fall under the latter category. The Mets will ostensibly fall in the second category, playing in the league’s largest market.
And finally, under the old system, a team that lost a player who rejected a qualifying offer would automatically receive a first-round amateur draft pick as a compensation no matter who the player was, like when the Mets lost Daniel Murphy last offseason. But now, that team will only net a first-round compensation pick if the player signs for a contract worth $50 million or more. If the player signs for less than $50 million, the team will be awarded a pick in the competitive balance round B, which is held after the second round in the draft. This is all void, though, if the team in question pays luxury tax, in which case that team’s compensation will be after the fourth round.
This new deal will mean that MLB will have 27 consecutive years of labor peace, having not had a work stoppage since the infamous 1994 strike that canceled the World Series. That streak is the longest of any of the four major-American sports leagues, the rest of which have all had work stoppages since 2011.