The Washington Times - November 22, 2011, 02:14PM

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Union reached a monumental step today when they announced a new collective bargaining agreement. It meant that there would be five more years of labor peace in Major League Baseball and that, when the new CBA expires in Dec. 2016, baseball will have been through 21 years of labor peace.

Their abilities to get a deal done without any type of labor strife, strike or lockout — as we’ve already seen twice this year with the NFL and NBA — were praised by anyone and everyone. Baseball will continue without a hitch.

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But it will be different.

Without further ado, a few of the highlights from the new CBA:

We already knew that there would be realignment. Beginning in 2013, the Houston Astros will move to the AL and baseball will move to two divisions with 15 teams. Two Wild Cards will be implemented (quite possibly as soon as this upcoming season) with the wild cards playing one another in a one-game playoff — which puts an added importance on winning the division.

   — Beginning in 2013, Interleague games will be a constant in baseball with two 15-team leagues.

   — It appears that there will be more scheduled doubleheaders implemented as well as there is a provision for the active roster to be expanded to 26 for “certain regular or split doubleheaders.”

The idea of Type A and Type B free agents, as based on Elias rankings, to determine draft pick compensation will be eliminated.

   — Only players who’ve been with their team for the entire season will be subject to compensation — and they must be offered at least a guaranteed one-year contract with a salary equal to that of the average salary for the 125-highest paid players from the previous season. Offer must be made within five days of the end of the World Series — and must be accepted within seven days after that.

   — Teams that sign a player “subject to compensation” will forfeit their first-round pick (unless it’s in the Top 10 and therefore protected, in which case they’ll forfeit their second-highest pick).

   — The minimum salaries will increase for both the major and the minor leagues with the MLB minimum going from $414,000 to $480,000 in 2012 and the MiLB minimum going from $67,300 in 2011 to $78,250 in 2012. Both increase in the following years as well.

Here are the new draft rules — which apply to both domestic and international signings and are where there is the most overhaul:

The draft signing deadline will be moved up from mid-August to between July 12 and 16, depending on the date of the All-Star Game. 

Drafted players can no longer sign Major League contracts (like the ones Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke all signed). Minor League deals only.

*** This is the part on draft bonuses and the portion regarding international signings, which are both complex, so I will share with you what is printed directly in the CBA:

MLB First-Year Player Draft:

A. Each Club will be assigned an aggregate Signing Bonus Pool prior to each draft. For the purpose of calculating the Signing Bonus Pools, each pick in the first 10 rounds of the draft has been assigned a value. (These values will grow each year with the rate of growth of industry revenue.) A Club’s Signing Bonus Pool equals the sum of the values of that Club’s selections in the first 10 rounds of the draft. Players selected after the 10th round do not count against a Club’s Signing Bonus Pool if they receive bonuses up to $100,000. Any amounts paid in excess of $100,000 will count against the Pool.

B. Clubs that exceed their Signing Bonus Pools will be subject to penalties as follows:

Excess of Pool Penalty (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)

• 0-5%75% tax on overage 

• 5-10% 75% tax on overage and loss of 1st round pick

• 10-15%100% tax on overage and loss of 1st and 2nd round picks 

• 15%+100% tax on overage and loss of 1st round picks in next two drafts

 — Proceeds generated by the tax will be distributed to payee Clubs under the Revenue Sharing Plan that do not exceed their Signing Bonus Pools. Draft picks that are forfeited by Clubs will be awarded to other Clubs through a lottery in which a Club’s odds of winning will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage and its prior season’s revenue. Only Clubs that do not exceed their Signing Bonus Pools are eligible for the lottery.

— Competitive Balance Lottery

A. For the first time, Clubs with the lowest revenues and in the smallest markets will have an opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery.

B. The ten Clubs with the lowest revenues, and the ten Clubs in the smallest markets, will be entered into a lottery for the six draft selections immediately following the completion of the first round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning the lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage.

C. The eligible Clubs that did not receive one of the six selections after the first round, and all other payee Clubs under the Revenue Sharing Plan, will be entered into a second lottery for the six picks immediately following the completion of the second round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning the lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage.

D. Picks awarded in the Competitive Balance Lottery may be assigned by a Club, subject to certain restrictions.

E. Top 200 prospects will be subject to a pre-draft drug test and will participate in a pre-draft medical program.

International signings: 

— For the 2012-13 signing season, each Club will be allocated an equal Signing Bonus Pool.

— For each signing period after 2012-13, Clubs will be allocated different Signing Bonus Pools, based on reverse order of winning percentage the prior championship season (i.e., the Club with the lowest winning percentage the prior season shall receive the largest Pool).

— Beginning in the 2013-2014 signing period (July 2, 2013 - June 15, 2014), Clubs may trade a portion of their Signing Bonus Pool, subject to certain restrictions.

Clubs that exceed their Signing Bonus Pools will be subject to the following penalties in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 signing periods:

Excess of Pool Penalty (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)

• 0-5%75% tax

• 5-10%       

75% tax and loss of right to provide more than one player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $500,000. 

• 10-15%

100% tax and loss of right to provide any player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $500,0000. 

• 15%+

100% tax and loss of right to provide any player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $250,000.

— The penalties for exceeding the Signing Bonus Pool will increase beginning with the 2014-2015 signing period if a draft or drafts is not agreed to by July 2014. 5. All international amateur players must register with the Scouting Bureau to be eligible to sign, and the top 100 prospects will be subject to a drug test.


The luxury tax threshold will remain at $178 million for 2012 and 2013 but will increase to $189 million for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The tax rate will also decrease to 17.5 percent for those exceeding it for the first time. 

Players, managers and coaches will be prohibited from using smokeless tobacco during televised interviews and any time fans are present in the ballpark players, managers and coaches must conceal tobacco products and are not allowed to carry them in their uniforms (basically, goodbye to the circular tin of dip in the players’ back pockets.)

There is a provision for players to undergo mandatory professional evaluation when it comes to issues with alcohol and crimes of force or violence.

By 2013 ALL players will be wearing the new batting helmets that protect against pitches thrown up to 100 mph. A few major leaguers were already wearing them but it will be league-wide by 2013 and the new helmets are said to be “less bulky” than their predecessors.

All players will be subject to hGH blood testing in spring training 2012.

Participation in the All-Star Game will be required unless the player is unable due to injury or is excused by the Commissioner.

Instant replay will be expanded to include fair/foul calls and trap calls.