What to know about the new CBA agreed upon by MLB and the players' union
Some of the highlights of the new five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement reached after a nearly 100-day lockout:
• Designated hitter: Expanding to the National League after being a part of the AL since 1973. One of the few elements of the new CBA the two sides pretty much agreed on from the start of the talks. The universal DH was a part of the 60-game COVID-19 season of 2020.
• The postseason: Expanding to 12 teams from 10. Owners wanted 14 teams but ultimately the sides settled on 12. There will be three division winners and three wild cards in the AL and NL. The top two division winners in each league receive first-round byes, with the remaining four qualifying clubs playing a best-of-three game wild-card series. The third division winner will be the highest seed in that group. The most interesting note: The top seeds in each wild-card matchup host the entire series.
• Free agency: No change. Players, who hoped to lower this number, can still become free agents after six years of service time.
• The luxury tax: Perhaps the issue that caused some of the most heated rhetoric behind the scenes with the bargaining parties, with each side coming away slightly disappointed. The first threshold for penalties goes to $230 million from $210 million in 2022, then to $232 million in ’23, $236 million in ’24, $240 million in ’25 and $242 million in ’26. The second threshold remains $20 million above the first, the third $40 million above the first and a new fourth threshold $60 million above the first. Penalties for exceeding the first three thresholds remain the same. For the first, a 20% tax on first-time offenders, 30% for exceeding in consecutive years and 50% for exceeding in three or more consecutive years. The second threshold jumps to 32%/42%/62%, and the third is 62.5%/75%/95%. The new fourth threshold (which quickly became known in the sport as the Steve Cohen Tax) carries rates at 80%/90%/110%, respectively.
• Free agent draft pick compensation: One of the many contentious issues in the talks. The sides, after much discussion and back-and-forth, agreed to eliminate draft-pick compensation, a part of the sport since 1976 and a part of the CBA for qualified free agents since 2012 (the latter aspect is contingent on an agreement on an international draft, which nearly torpedoed the talks earlier this week).
• Salary arbitration: No change. Players who have three or more years of major league service but less than six years of Major League service become eligible for salary arbitration.
• Service time: One of the players’ primary goals for the new CBA were changes to this and they were partially successful. A full year of service time will now be credited to players who finish first or second in Rookie of the Year voting in each league, but with a caveat: they must rank among the top 100 prospects and did not spend the full season on the big-league roster. Top prospects who finish in the top three of Rookie of the Year voting or in the top five in Cy Young or MVP voting will earn teams additional draft picks. The union can eliminate this provision during the agreement.
• On-field rules changes: Any of these currently on the table, including a 14-second pitch clock with no runners, a 19-second pitch clock with runners, limits on defensive shifts and use of larger bases, can be made with 45 days’ notice by a committee comprising six management officials, four union representatives and one umpire. Previously, management could make such changes with union consent or unilaterally with one year notice.
• Minimum salary: Rises from $570,500 to $700,000 this year, $720,000 in 2023, $740,000 in 2024, $760,000 in 2025 and $780,000 in 2026.
• Amateur draft: Reduced to 20 rounds from 40.
• Uniform advertising: The players agreed to allow MLB to add uniform and helmet advertising patches.
With The Associated Press