Even before the Jim Joyce-Armando Galarraga imbroglio, and even before Joe West's multiple embarrassing incidents in 2010, Major League Baseball realized it had to do something to better maintain the quality of its umpiring corps.

That's why the current collective-bargaining agreement with the umpires, which began in 2010, contains a new feature: an early window for umpires to retire and enhanced pension benefits for those officials who capitalize on that window, according to two people close to the situation.

Now, to make clear: Baseball doesn't want Joyce, a respected umpire who displayed admirable accountability, to retire. But the 57-year-old West? That wouldn't be terrible.

Part of baseball's problem is that it finds itself kicking bad umps upstairs when they no longer can work on the field. Exhibit A is Bruce Froemming, who embarrassed his profession by harassing players for autographs and making anti-Semitic comments. He now works as a special assistant to MLB officials Jimmie Lee Solomon and Mike Port.

With the new setup, umps can check out altogether and be rewarded for it. It's win-win.

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