Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association reached an agreement Thursday on a new collective bargaining agreement, paving the way for the 2022 regular season that begins April 7.
The ABC still needs to be ratified by owners before it becomes official, with a vote scheduled for early Thursday evening. If ratified, both sides must then sign a memorandum of understanding formally ending the three-month lockout.
The mandatory spring training report date for all clubs is Sunday. The exhibition games will begin on March 17 or 18.
The deal came to fruition a day after MLB postponed Opening Day to April 14 in the absence of a new deal and announced that each team’s first four series had been scrapped from the schedule. However, as part of this agreement, a full 162-game schedule will be played and the four series that were previously removed from the schedule will be rescheduled.
The new five-year CBA includes an increase in minimum wages, a new pre-arbitration bonus pool to reward the best young players in the game, an increase in competitive balance tax thresholds, the introduction of a universal designated hitter, the largest draft lottery in professional sports, a system to prevent alleged manipulation of time on duty, and limits on the number of times a player can be picked in a season to meet concerns about “unsubscribing from the list”.
The deal also includes an expanded 12-team postseason format, bringing playoff baseball to two additional markets each year.
As part of the agreement, a joint competition committee will be formed consisting of four active players, six MLB-appointed members and an arbitrator. From 2023, the committee will be tasked with enacting changes to playing rules such as a pitch clock, base size, defensive positioning, and automatic ball/hit zone.
Under the previous agreement, MLB had the right to unilaterally implement rule changes on one year’s notice, but the new system will allow the game to improve faster through collaboration between the league and the players.
Once the ABC is finalized, teams across the league will focus on completing their offseason business as over 200 players remain in the free agent market, including notable names such as Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, Kris Bryant and Trevor Story.
Here are some details of the agreement between MLB and the MLBPA:
• The first-year increase is the largest single-year increase in history, nearly five times the previous CBA’s first-year increase of $27,500. It also represents a larger increase than the total for the past 10 years.
Competitive equilibrium tax threshold
2022: $230 million
2023: $233 million
2024: $237 million
2025: $241 million
2026: $244 million
• The increase of $20 million between 2021 and 2022 is nearly twice as large as the largest increase in the previous first year.
• A fourth level of taxation was added at $60 million above the base threshold to deal with overspending.
Pre-arbitrage bonus pool
• $50 million (to be distributed to the top 100 players based on rewards and statistical performance).
• MLB and MLBPA will jointly develop a statistical method for allocating funds.
• Under this system, Corbin Burnes, winner of the NL Cy Young Award, would have seen his wages rise from $608,000 to $4.2 million last season, while Rookie of the Year winners Randy Arozarena and Jonathan India would have seen their respective salaries more than triple in 2021.
• The 6 best selections will be allocated by drawing lots.
• Odds would be based on the reverse order of winning percentage, with the bottom three clubs each at 16.5%.
• The 18 non-qualifying clubs would be eligible, although revenue share beneficiaries would not be eligible to receive lottery selections for three consecutive years, while non-beneficiaries would not be eligible to receive lottery selections for consecutive years.
• In exchange for accepting an international draft by July 25, 2022, MLB will eliminate the qualifying offer system (direct draft pick pay) for free agents.
• The international draft would be 20 rounds (over 600 selections), which would increase the total earnings earned by fans by over $20 million annually.
• Signing bonuses would be guaranteed for drafted players.
• Clubs that select players from growth countries (countries with less than 0.5% signings in the previous three signing periods) will receive additional caps to encourage scouting and signing in emerging markets.
Beginning in 2023, a committee of four active players, six MLB appointees and an umpire will be tasked with enacting changes to playing rules such as a pitch clock, base size, positioning defensive and the automatic ball/hit area.
• The contracts of players eligible for arbitration will be guaranteed.
• Top prospects who finish 1st or 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting will receive a full year of service.
• Clubs that promote top prospects on the Opening Day rosters will be eligible to receive draft picks if the player finishes in the Top 3 in Rookie of the Year voting or in the Top 5 in Rookie of the Year voting. MVP/Cy Young voting.
• Extended playoffs: 12 teams, with the top two division winners receiving a bye.
• Universal Designated Hitter.
• Players can only be selected five times per season.