Details on New MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement

-The K Zone-

November 30th 2016


Details on New MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement by Ian Joffe

In the first players’ strike of 1976, the owners of Major League agreed to give the players’ a union with the right to form collective bargaining agreements. The first CBA was created that very year, and today, a new CBA was agreed upon. For a while, there was a threat of a new strike, and a lockout (the equivalent of a strike but with the owners). In either, no players could be traded, signed, waived, or moved in any fashion. The threat, however, was averted, thanks to union head Tony Clark and commissioner Rob Manfred. It was both of their first negotiations, and appears to have gone rather successfully, having now avoided ending MLB’s 21-year streak of labor peace. Here are the details of the agreement, as it develops:

  • The new agreement will last five years, until the 2021 offseason.
  • Rosters will not expand to 26 players, as it had been previously rumored. This would have allowed teams to keep an extra player to be used each game. Teams could have kept a third catcher, defensive infielder, speester, classic long reliver/swing man, or perhaps a reliever to use in a similar way that Andrew Miller was used in the playoffs. The September 40-man roster expansions will also continue for the next five years, unchanged. There is, however,  a chance of an extra roster expansion occuring earlier in the season, which may be only one person, expanding to 26 total players on the roster.
  • It was long rumored that the international draft would be part of the new CBA. However, after much persistence from the players’ side, particularly those Latin born players, MLB gave up on the international draft. A draft would have likely severely decreased salary for foreign born players, although bonus slot money was yet to be decided.
  • Instead, MLB will institute a hard cap on foreign signings. Previously, spending too much on international free agents resulted in an additional tax to MLB. Now, teams will simply not be allowed to exceed a certain limit in international spending. This limit is said to be around $5MM, but change based on the team’s competative balance status. Furthermore, the slots to sign international players can be traded. Cubans over the age of 25 with six years of experience will be exempt from these limitations.
  • The leauge minimum salary will go up to $555K over the next few years. This is only a minor change, of about $40K. The minor league minimum wage will also increase.
  • The minimum DL length has changed from 15 days to 10 days. A player can be placed on the DL to be deactived for the alloted time, but must be activated or reinstated after that time. To current knowldge, there is still a 60-day DL to go along with the 10-day.
  • The luxury tax threshold will increase in the coming five years. In 2017, it will go up to $195MM, in 2018 $197MM, in 2019 $206MM, in 2020 $208MM, and in 2021 $221MM, the season before this CBA expired. Furthermore, penalties for exceeding the luxury tax will increase greatly, to 60%, 70%, and in extreme cases even 90%. For those unfamiliar with the luxury tax, also known as competitive balance tax system, this means that teams whose payrolls exceed the threshold must give additional money to MLB. Both the threshold and amount of tax have increased.
  • The qualifying offer system will undergo major changes. A player may only be given a qualifying offer once in their careers. If the reject, the team still receives no compensation if the player signed for under $50MM. If they do sign for $50MM, compensation will depend on a team’s revenue sharing status. No team will be required to forfeit a first found pick.  Teams that contribute to revenue sharing (those with the top fifteen incomes) will give up their second and fifth round picks, while other teams which receive money from revenue sharing will give up their fifth pick to the team that the free agent came from. If a team signs multiple free agents with qualifying offers in one year to greater than $50MM contracts, the team will give up more draft picks in order after the ones they have already forfeited (e.g. a bottom 15-income team will give up their 3rd, then 4th, then 5th, etc. round pick). This revenue-sharing based system differs from the one based on luxury tax, as previously reported.
  • Teams that exceed the luxury tax threshold by over $40MM will have their highest draft selection dropped by 10 picks.
  • The revenue sharing system will be changed slightly, eliminating its performance factor clause. As Jeff Passan puts it, the performance factor acts as a multiplier for teams to pay in revenue sharing. The elimination of this will likely result in lowered payments from large market teams, like the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, etc. Additionally, the Oakland Athletics will no longer recieve money from the revenue sharing system, due to disputes over market size and the stadium which they share with Oakland’s football team, the Raiders. Additionally, the union has had issues with Oakland ownership, saying that the team does not spend the money on players, like they are supposed to. It will take four years to phase them out.
  • New MLB players may be banned from using smokeless tobacco in the ballpark, for all teams. This will not apply to those who have already played in MLB.
  • The league will take additional off days in coming seasons. To accommodate for the expansion, the schedule will begin a few days earlier. So, the season will begin in the middle of the week, not the weekend as it is traditionally.
  • In the July Amateur Draft, there will be less of a drop off in guarenteed slot bonuses between picks. In other words, there will be less of a difference betweent he bonus of a first pick and, say, 15th pick.
  • There will be increased drug testing, especially for HGH, and players will not be given service time while they are serving suspensions.
  • The All-Star Game will no longer serve to determine home field advantage. Instead, home field will go to the team with the better record. In my opinion, this is a major improvement to a system that was previously unfair to the teams and fans of city, the players of the team having barely any control over their postseason homefield advantage.
  • Players must be given two seats each on busses during Spring Training.
  • Teams must hire a chef for their players.

More to come as this story develops


Paul Hagen and Richard Justice on

Jeff Todd on

Jason Stark on

Stephen Hawkings and Ronald Blum on

Jeff Passan on Twitter

Ken Rosenthal on Twitter

Joel Sherman on Twitter

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