Play­ers, own­ers reach ten­ta­tive labor ac­cord

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Stephen Hawkins and Ronald Blum

Baseball play­ers and own­ers reached a ten­ta­tive agree­ment on a five-year labor con­tract, a deal that will ex­tend the sport’s in­dus­trial peace to 26 years since ru­inous fights in the first two decades of free agency.

IRVING, TEXAS >> Baseball play­ers and own­ers reached a ten­ta­tive agree­ment on a five-year labor con­tract 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 roundthe-clock talks, ne­go­tia­tors reached a ver­bal agree­ment about 3 ½ 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 catcher Stephen Vogt said in a text mes­sage.

In an­nounc­ing the agree­ment, Ma­jor League Baseball and the play­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion said they will make spe­cific terms avail­able when draft­ing is com­plete.

“Happy it’s done, and baseball is back on,” Los An­ge­les Dodgers pitcher Bran­don McCarthy said.

As part of the deal, the ex­per­i­ment of hav­ing the All-Star Game de­ter­mine which league gets home­field ad­van­tage in the World Se­ries will end after 14 years, 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.

In­stead, the pen­nant win­ner with the bet­ter reg­u­lar-sea­son record will open the Se­ries at home.

An­other im­por­tant change: The min­i­mum time for a stint on the dis­abled list will be re­duced from 15 days to 10.

The lux­ury tax thresh­old rises from $189 mil­lion to $195 mil­lion next year, $197 mil­lion in 2018, $206 mil­lion in 2019, $209 mil­lion in 2020 and $210 mil­lion in 2021.

Tax rates in­crease from 17.5 per­cent to 20 per­cent for first of­fend­ers, re­main at 30 per­cent for sec­ond of­fend­ers and rise from 40 per­cent to 50 per­cent for third of­fend­ers. There is a new sur­tax of 12 per­cent for teams $20 mil­lion to $40 mil­lion above the thresh­old, 42.5 per­cent for first of­fend­ers more than $40 mil­lion above the thresh­old and 45 per­cent for sub­se­quent of­fend­ers more than $40 mil­lion above. And spe­cial tran­si­tion rates will be used for 2017.

Union head Tony Clark, pre­sid­ing over a ne­go­ti­a­tion for the first time, said in a state­ment the deal “will ben­e­fit all in­volved in the game and leaves the game bet­ter for those who fol­low.”

Key changes in­volve the qual­i­fy­ing of­fers clubs can make to their for­mer play­ers after they be­come free agents — the fig­ure was $17.2 mil­lion this year. If a player turns down the of­fer and signs else­where, his new team for­feits an am­a­teur draft pick, which usu­ally had been in the first round un­der the old deal.

Un­der the new rules, a player can re­ceive a qual­i­fy­ing of­fer only once in his ca­reer and will have 10 days to con­sider it in­stead of seven. A club sign­ing a player who de­clined a qual­i­fy­ing of­fer would lose its third-high­est am­a­teur draft pick if it is a rev­enue-shar­ing re­ceiver, its sec­ond- and fifth-high­est picks (plus a loss of $1 mil­lion in its in­ter­na­tional draft pool) if it pays lux­ury tax for the just-ended sea­son, and its sec­ond-high­est pick (plus $500,000 in the in­ter­na­tional draft pool) if it is any other team.

A club los­ing a free agent who passed up a qual­i­fy­ing of­fer would re­ceive an ex­tra se­lec­tion after the first round of the next draft if the player signed a con­tract for $50 mil­lion or more and after com­pet­i­tive bal­ance round B if un­der $50 mil­lion. How­ever, if that team pays lux­ury tax, the ex­tra draft pick would drop to after the fourth round.

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