Tentative deal for players, owners
Oral agreement reached on five-year collective bargaining agreement
IRVING, TEXAS — Baseball players and owners reached a tentative agreement on a five-year collective bargaining agreement Wednesday night, a deal that will extend the sport’s industrial peace to 26 years since the ruinous fights in the first two decades of free agency.
After days of near round-the-clock talks, negotiators reached an oral agreement about 31⁄ hours before the expiration of the current pact. Then they worked to draft a memorandum of understanding, which must be ratified by both sides.
“It’s great! Another five years of uninterrupted baseball,” Oakland Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt said.
In announcing the agreement, Major League Baseball said it will make specific terms available when drafting is complete.
As part of the deal, the threshold for the luxury tax, a mechanism intended to ensure competitive balance, rises f rom $189 million to $195 million next year, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in
2021, a person familiar with the agreement told the Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been signed.
Tax rates increase to 20 percent for first offenders, 30 percent for second offenders and 50 percent for third offenders. There is a new surtax of 12 percent for teams $20 million to $40 million above the threshold and additional amounts for teams more than $40 million above the threshold.
There will be a new penalty for signing certain free agents that could affect a team’s draft order. There is no change to limits on active rosters, which stay at 25 for most of the season and 40 from Sept. 1 on. Management failed to obtain an international draft of amateurs residing outside the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, but did get a hard cap on each team’s annual bonus pool for those players.
Negotiators met through most of Tuesday night in an effort to increase momentum in the talks, which began during spring training. This is the third straight time the sides reached a new agreement before expiration, but a deal was struck eight weeks in advance of expiration in 2006 and three weeks ahead of expiration in 2011.
Talks took place at a hotel outside Dallas where the players association held its annual executive board meeting.
While there were no games to be lost at this point, baseball had faced the prospect of a hold on transactions and other offseason business only hours after the New York Mets finalized their four-year, $110 million contract for Yoenis Cespedes.
Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972 to 1995, the last a 71⁄ month strike in 1994-1995 that led to the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years. The 2002 agreement was reached after players authorized a strike and about 31⁄ hours before the first game that would have been affected by a walkout.
The peace in baseball contrasts with the recent labor histories of other major sports. The NFL had a preseason lockout in 2011, the NBA lost 240 games to a lockout that same year and the NHL lost 510 games to a lockout in 2012-13.