Major League Baseball is back after the players and the owners agreed on a new CBA Thursday afternoon. The lockout lasted 99 days, which is the second-longest work stoppage in the game’s history. Owners are expected to ratify the agreement in a call at 6 p.m. ET tonight and the lockout will be lifted soon after. That means that the offseason will resume as soon as tonight. Prepare yourselves!
This is all still developing and we are reliant on oftentimes partial reports, but we wanted to put all of this information in one place to serve as a reference guide. This will be updated as we receive additional information. Omission of an element here doesn’t mean it isn’t in the new CBA, but rather that we have not yet seen information regarding that element to put in this post.
The competitive balance/luxury tax (CBT) was one of the biggest sticking points during the negotiation. Per the final agreement, the CBT will be set at $230 million in 2022 and will rise annually to $233 million, $237 million, $241 million and $244 million.
More details of the final deal are still coming in. Below is a list according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan and other sources.
- Players with less than three years of major league service will see their minimum salary jump from $570,500 to $700,000. The minimum salary will increase each year by $20,000, reaching a maximum of $780,000 over the life of the deal.
- A pre-arbitration bonus pool of $50 million will be distributed among players who have yet to reach salary arbitration. Exact details on who qualifies for the extra salary and how the bonus pool will work are forthcoming but not yet available. Extra money will be awarded for certain honors and awards voting thresholds, and there’s apparently a reference to WAR for determining how much of pool will be spread, but it’s not clear exactly how the CBA plans to use WAR, or which formulation will be the preferred variant.
- Postseason expanded to 12 teams. The top team in each league will get byes for the first round of the playoffs under the new system. The wild card round will be a best of three format. There will be no reseeding for division series which will have the one seed playing the winner of the 4v5 wild card series and the two seed playing the 3v6 winner. There are no ghost wins for any series. Also, there are not going to be any more game 163 tiebreakers as the league is adopting a tiebreaker system similar to the one used in the NFL.
- Player uniforms will feature advertising for the first time. This will include patches on jerseys and decals on batting helmets. Players will be allowed to engage in arrangements with sports betting companies for the first time.
- There will be a 45-day window for the league to implement rule changes. A pitch clock, ban on shifts and larger bases will go into effect for the 2023 season, pending action by a newly-formed committee that will be skewed towards league (that is, non-player) representatives. It is not clear whether the league plans to implement some rules changes in 2023 or later midseason.
- The Universal Designated Hitter is coming to the National League, which slams the door on pitchers batting for the foreseeable future, or perhaps ever.
- The MLB Draft will include a six team draft lottery. Exact details on how the lottery will work are forthcoming, and will likely be complex based on prior proposals.
- The MLB Draft will be cut to 20 rounds. The previous number of rounds was 40, although the last two drafts have been less, citing pandemic reasons. Bonus pools are said to be increasing, but it’s not clear whether that’s an increase relative to the past 20 rounds, or something else.
- The league will allow compensatory draft pick inducements to discourage service time manipulation. Teams will be awarded picks if players not held down to gain an extra year of service play well enough to merit awards consideration. Exact details are forthcoming. In addition, players who finish first or second in Rookie of the Year voting will receive service time credits that presumably will grant them a year of service even if they were held down for part of the season.
- There will be a limit of no more than five times that a player can be optioned to the minor leagues in a given season.
- MLBPA agreed to drop the grievance that was filed in 2020 during the restart of the season due to the pandemic. The 2018 lawsuit (which was a hot topic of conversation) over revenue sharing was NOT dropped as part of the negotiations.
- Spring training games are to start on March 17 or 18.
- Starting in 2023, the schedule will become more balanced, with each team playing each other team in the league for at least one series. The exact format that will reign is still being determined, but this will be a pretty substantial change that won’t be felt for a while.
- Improved benefits for former players (details are sparse).
More to come....