Ten­ta­tive deal for play­ers, own­ers

Oral agree­ment reached on five-year col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Stephen Hawkins and Ron­ald Blum

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.

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