Players, owners reach tentative labor accord
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.