Bud Selig called it "another historic agreement,'' and Players Association head Michael Weiner described it as "a good day for baseball, not just because of what we avoided, but because of what we actually achieved.''
In a year in which the NBA has been devastated and the NFL impacted by labor unrest, Major League Baseball Tuesday announced its new collective-bargaining agreement -- a five-year deal -- weeks before the existing CBA's Dec. 11 deadline, and with ownership and the players' side exchanging high praise and holiday wishes.
The agreement has a dizzying array of renovations, alterations and tweaks to baseball's structure, starting with last week's announcements that the Astros will go from the NL Central to the AL West (in 2013) and that there will be an additional playoff spot, perhaps as early as next year; the 2012 playoff setup will be determined by March 1.
Here's a breakdown of the agreement's highlights:
Blood testing for human growth hormone will occur during spring training of 2012 and in subsequent offseasons. In-season testing will be "jointly studied'' and could be added. As per previous agreements, players are subject to HGH testing for "reasonable cause'' (a high threshold to which both sides must agree on a case-by-case basis) during the year.
Free-agency draft compensation will largely be eliminated starting next year. If a team wants compensation, it must offer its free agent a one-year contract for "a salary equal to the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players from the prior season'' on the fifth day of free agency.
The player will have seven days to accept the offer. If he rejects it and signs with a new team, his old team receives a draft pick at the end of the first round. A team selecting 11th- 30th forfeits its pick for signing this sort of high-end free agent.
If a club picks in the top 10 and commits to a compensation free agent, it would retain that pick and give up its second-round selection.
This winter will feature a modified version of the "Type A/Type B'' system, featuring arbitration offers, that has long been in place. The Mets still will get two 2012 picks if Jose Reyes departs.
The amateur draft features a tax on aggregate spending that also could include the loss of future picks for teams that greatly exceed their "signing bonus pool.'' A "competitive balance lottery'' will distribute six extra picks (after the first round) among clubs from small markets and with low revenues after the first and second rounds.
"Signing bonus pools,'' along with penalty taxes and restrictions on subsequent signings, also will be in effect for international amateur players. The sides will work to try to create a worldwide draft by 2014.
Players, managers and coaches will be prohibited from using smokeless tobacco during televised interviews and club appearances, and they no longer may carry tobacco products (or containers) on their uniforms.
The luxury-tax threshold will remain at $178 million through 2013, then jump to $189 million from 2014-16.
By 2016, revenue sharing will be determined solely by market size.
Minimum salary will be $480,000 next year, $490,000 in 2013 and $500,000 in 2014.
By 2013, all major-leaguers will wear a new, more protective batting helmet.