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Updated: Making sense of MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement

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Here’s what we know about the new CBA and how it will affect baseball.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Detroit Tigers Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

UPDATE: More details have come out regarding MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement. Here are the latest details:

International bonus pools will be in the range of $ 4.75 million to $ 5.75 million, depending on market size and where teams draft based on the prior season’s record. Current pools are in the $ 2 million to $ 5.5 million range. As previously reported, the caps are now hard caps.

Up to 75 percent of a team’s international bonus money can be acquired via trades on top of their annual bonus pool. That would effectively increase their bonus cap.

The age for international free agents to be free from spending limits has also been increased to 25.

Teams that are on restriction because of going over the spending limits in the past are still restricted under the old rules. Several teams can not sign an international free agent to a bonus above $ 300,000 during the current signing period.

Qualifying offer rules, which will take effect in 2018, are broken into three categories for teams. The 16 teams receiving revenue sharing who lose a player after making a qualifying offer will receive a supplemental first round draft pick if the player signs a contract for over $ 50 million, and a supplemental second round pick if the player signs for less.

Teams that are over the luxury tax threshold receive a supplemental fourth round pick for losing a qualified free agent.

Teams that are under the threshold but don’t receive revenue sharing will receive a supplemental second round pick if the player signs for over $ 50 million, and a third round pick if he signs for less.

When any of those 16 revenue sharing recipient teams sign a qualified free agent, they will lose their third highest draft pick.

Any of the other teams who are not over the luxury tax threshold give up a second highest pick plus $ 500,000 in international bonus money when they sign a qualified free agent.

Teams that are over the luxury tax threshold who sign a qualified free agent player must give up their second and fifth highest draft picks plus $ 1 million in international bonus money.

If a team is more than $ 40 million above the tax threshold signs a qualified free agent player, they will also have their first round draft pick drop 10 slots.

Draft slot values have been adjusted so that the top slot amount is lower and the next four slots are brought closer together. The top slot now has an assigned value of $ 7.4 million.

Luxury tax brackets have been clarified.

$ 195 million in 2017, then $ 197 million, $ 205 million, $ 209 million, and $ 210 million in successive years. Every team starts with a clean sheet as the tax brackets are reset.

20 % tax on the first time above on the overage30% tax on the overage second time

50% tax on the overage third time12% tax surcharge on the amount $ 20 to 40 million above the threshold

42.5% tax surcharge on the amount more than $ 40 million above threshold45% tax surcharge second time over $ 40 million

A bilingual media relations professional must be hired by all teams.

Competitive balance round draft picks will still go to teams in the ten smallest markets, but there will be no lottery. They will alternate between supplemental first and second round picks from year to year. The Tigers are not eligible for these picks, but they can be acquired in a trade.

All Star game reserves will be selected by the commissioner’s office rather than by the team managers.

Drug testing will be increased so that all players on the 40 man rosters will be tested, and the overall number of tests will increase from 350 to 1,500 per season. PED tests will increase by 50 percent and HGH test will double in number.

Suspensions for performance enhancing drugs may be reduced by an arbitration panel if they find there were “mitigating circumstances”

DFA: The time period in which a club may designate a player for assignment has been reduced from 10 days to seven days.

There is now an anti- hazing and anti bullying clause in the CBA. We may not see rookies parading around in womens’ clothing any more.

Every clubhouse will have a chef. Players are guaranteed to have two seats on every spring training bus ride. Teams are now allowed to pay players’ meal money in check cards. These are actual rules.


Major League Baseball’s players and owners reached a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) just hours before the previous CBA was set to expire on Wednesday evening. The $10 billion golden goose has been spared!

Most importantly, the new agreement will last another five seasons, guaranteeing 26 full years without an MLB labor stoppage. Most of the previous agreement will remain in the new CBA. While details are still unknown, here are the changes and what they mean for baseball.

The Competitive Balance tax threshold will increase from $189 million to $195 million in 2017, then climb to $197 million, $206 million, $209 million and $210 million over the life of the CBA (h/t Jayson Stark). Considering the dramatic increase in revenues in the game, these are very modest adjustments.

Tax rates will also increase. First time offenders will pay 20 percent, second timers 30 percent, and third time offenders will pay 50 percent on the amount above the threshold. There is a new 12 percent surtax for teams $20 million to $40 million above the threshold, 40 percent for their first time $40 million above the threshold, and 42.5 percent for teams second time $40 million over (h/t Bob Nightengale). This is a de-facto salary cap that penalizes teams who go way over the limits.

The Tigers are on track to pay a 30 percent tax on their luxury tax overage in 2017. They are still about $17.5 million above the new threshold. The Dodgers will pay a whopping 92 percent tax if their payroll is over $235 million in 2017 (h/t Jayson Stark).

Free Agent Compensation will be given to teams that make a qualifying offer to potential free agents who sign with another team. If the player signs a contract in excess of $50 million, the club will receive a supplemental first round pick. If under $50 million, the compensation is after Round B. The offer is still based on the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players in MLB (h/t Ken Rosenthal).

This could affect players like J.D. Martinez, who will be a free agent after the 2017 season. Reduced compensation could reduce his trade value, and also the value of keeping him another season. Also, a player can be given a qualifying offer only once in his career (h/t Ken Rosenthal).

Payment of free agent compensation is also changed starting in 2018. No longer will teams have to give up a first round draft pick for signing an elite free agent player. Teams that are over the luxury tax threshold will forfeit their second- and fifth-highest draft picks, and lose $1 million in international bonus money. Teams under the tax threshold lose their third-highest draft pick (h/t Jayson Stark). There are added penalties for teams more than $40 million over the threshold.

MLB’s minimum salary will increase from $507,500 to $535,000 in 2017. It then rises to $545,000 in 2018 and $555,000 in 2019. Then, there will be “cost-of-living increases” in the final two years of the agreement. Minor leaguers on the 40 man roster for their second season receive a modest increase (h/t AP Sports).

International signing bonuses will now be in the range of $4.75 to $6 million per team, per season, but this will be a hard cap (h/t Jon Heyman). The owners wanted a draft of international players, but faced strong opposition from players. Teams routinely blew past the current limits and paid the fines. Bonus pools in 2016-17 totaled $78.55 million. The new pools total at least $142.5 million. Rules for older Cuban players and those in Japan remain unchanged.

The Tigers, who usually spend up to their limit ($ 3.15 million in 2016) and never exceed it could benefit from the new system. Whether teams currently under penalty will still be penalized is unknown.

Roster size was rumored to be increasing from 25 to 26 players from April through August, and then limited to 28 or 29 players in September. This change was not included in the agreement. The 25 man roster will remain, expanding up to 40 players in September.

The baseball season will begin five days earlier in 2018, creating another five days off for players during the season (h/t Ken Rosenthal). For Detroit fans, this means more days in chilly weather in the spring, and more days off in the summer.

The All-Star Game will no longer determine home field advantage in the World Series. The pennant winner with the better regular season record will get home field advantage. Players in the All-Star Game will have the incentive to play for a pool of money (h/t AP Sports).

The 15-day disabled list will become a 10-day disabled list (h/t AP Sports).

International games may be played in Mexico and London (h/t Jon Morosi), possibly around the All-Star break.

The joint drug agreement will not contain stronger penalties for use of performance enhancing drugs. There will be more testing. Players will not accrue service time during suspensions, and there will be “biomarker testing for HGH.”

Smokeless tobacco will be banned for all new players in major league baseball, while current players will be grandfathered in and allowed to chew away (h/t Joel Sherman).

To be announced: There are a number of issues that could still be addressed in the new CBA. These include:

  • Arbitration eligibility has been gradually advanced in previous agreements. Presently, players with between two and three year who rank in the top 22 percent in major league service time are eligible as “Super Two” players. With the players seeking a larger share of revenues, this may be one way to get some.
  • Revenue sharing is the most direct way to “level the playing field” between big and small market teams. Presently, 34 percent of local revenues go into a pool, to be divided equally among the 30 clubs. This is subject to change.
  • Penalties for domestic violence offenses could be formally implemented as part of the agreement.

Note: This article will be updated as more information becomes available.