Baseball is back.
MLB and the MLBPA reached a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement Thursday. Both sides officially ratified the deal, with the owners unanimously voting to approve the agreement.
After a difficult negotiation process, commissioner Rob Manfred expressed his happiness at baseball's return.
"I am genuinely thrilled to say Major League Baseball is back, and we’re going to play 162 games," he said.
Despite the excitement of an agreement, Manfred acknowledged the toll the process took on fans and apologized for all the uncertainty "at a time when there's a lot of uncertainty in the world."
The new CBA reportedly includes several changes, according to The Athletic's Evan Drellich and James Wagner of The New York Times:
- Expanding to a 12-team playoff field
- Universal designated hitter
- Six-team draft lottery
- New $50-million bonus pool
- Increases to competitive balance tax thresholds (starting at $230M, rising to $244M)
- Changes to minimum salary (starting at $700K, rising to $780K)
- Addressing service-time manipulation
- Top two Rookie of the Year finalists get full year of service time
- 20-round amateur draft
- Players can be optioned to the minor leagues a maximum of five times per year
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark addressed the agreement in a statement, praising the sacrifice players made to reach a suitable deal for both the present and future.
"Our union endured the second-longest work stoppage in its history to achieve significant progress in key areas that will improve not just current players' rights and benefits, but those of generations to come," Clark said.
"Players remained engaged and unified from beginning to end, and in the process, reenergized our fraternity."
As part of the new agreement, the union will drop the grievance it filed in 2020 over MLB's handling of the pandemic-shortened season, Drellich adds. However, the MLBPA didn't drop the revenue-sharing grievance it filed against four clubs in 2018.
Players can report to spring training as early as Friday, while Opening Day for a 162-game season is expected to be April 7,
The union voted 26-12 in favor of the agreement.
Five of the eight members of the players' subcommittee are Scott Boras clients and wanted the competitive balance tax thresholds pushed higher, sources told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
On the heels of an acrimonious negotiation with the union, Manfred acknowledged needing to build a better relationship with the players. "One of the things I’m supposed to do is promote a good relationship with our players. I’ve tried to do that. I have not been successful at that," Manfred said according to Janes. He added: "It begins with small steps. It’s why, after the ratification, I picked up the phone and called Tony (Clark)."
The new 12-team postseason format will see playoff spots determined through "NFL-type" tiebreaker formulas instead of the usual Game 163 tiebreaker, according to The Athletic's Jayson Stark. Teams will also not be re-seeded for the division series, Stark adds.
Beginning in 2023, the schedule will feature fewer divisional games, with every club playing at least one series against every other team in the league, according to The Wall Street Journal's Jared Diamond. The exact format is not yet determined, Diamond adds.
Expect the next several weeks to be chaotic. Carlos Correa, Clayton Kershaw, Freddie Freeman, and Trevor Story are among more than 100 free agents still unsigned. There's also an extensive list of arbitration-eligible players without a contract.
MLB and the MLBPA cleared a major hurdle earlier Thursday when the two sides agreed to wait until July 25 to reach a deal on a proposed international draft, which would be instituted in 2024.