Key Details And Changes With New MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement

The MLB lockout came to an end after 99 days, as the league and Players Association (MLBPA) both approved a new collective bargaining agreement. It came hours after the two sides agreed to delay a final decision on potentially implementing an international draft to July 25.

All eight members of the MLBPA executive committee voted against the new CBA terms, but the 30 player representatives turned in a 26-4 tally in favor of accepting the proposal. Team owners unanimously voted to ratify the new deal.

“I am genuinely thrilled to be able to say Major League Baseball is back and we’re going to be able to play 162 games,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said during a press conference to announce the lockout had officially ended.

Spring Training camps now are due to open this weekend, and Cactus League and Grapefruit League games begin Friday, March 18.

“Our union endured the second-longest work stoppage in its history to achieve significant progress in key areas that will improve not just current players’ rights and benefits, but those of generations to come,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement.

“Players remained engaged and unified from beginning to end, and in the process reenergized our fraternity.”

Key details in new MLB collective bargaining agreement

Important issues throughout CBA negotiations were matters related to core economics of the sport: luxury tax thresholds and accompanying penalties, minimum starting salary, pre-arbitration bonus pool, and percentage of players that would qualify for Super Two status.

MLB minimum salaries

After exchanging several proposals and figures, the league and union agreed to a $700,000 salary for first-year players in 2022. That’s notably up from the $575,500 minimum from the 2021 season, and the 22.7% increase is the largest since a 50% change with the 2003-07 CBA.

The current CBA will see the minimum salary rise to $720,000 for the 2023 season, followed by $740,000, $760,000 and $780,000 over the lifetime of the deal.

Pre-arbitration bonus pool

A completely new wrinkle to the CBA is the pre-arbitration bonus pool for players who do not achieve Super Two status and are yet to accrue three years of Major League service time.

The players set their highest ask at $105 million, and there was a significant gulf until recent negotiations. The sides ultimately agreed to a $50 million bonus pool.

Luxury tax thresholds (competitive balance tax)

Arguably one of the most contentious subjects, team owners made headway toward reaching figures the MLBPA sought.

The luxury tax threshold for the 2022 season is set at $230 million, then it increases to $233 million the following year, $237 million in 2024, $241 million for 2025, and $244 million in the final year of the CBA.

However, with MLB moving closer to the union’s asks came a new fourth tier of surcharge penalties — unofficially deemed the Steve Cohen tax in recognition of the New York Mets owner’s deep pockets.

Prior luxury tax rates remain for the first three tiers, but the fourth introduced a competitive balance tax rate that ranges from 80-110%, dependent on repeater status.

Expanded postseason

Revenue possibilities from an expanded playoffs had MLB insistent on adding more teams to October baseball. The Players Association was open to the possibility, but at 12 teams rather than the league’s preference of 14.

The players wound up getting their terms for an expanded postseason, which will now include a best-of-three- Wild Card Series round. The top two division winners in each league will clinch a first-round bye and await an opponent in the Division Series.

Minor League options

Yet another new component of the CBA, the amount of times a player can be optioned to the Minors is capped at five per season.

Additional CBA details

  • Universal designated hitter
  • MLB Draft lottery to determine the top six picks
  • Players finishing first or second in Rookie of the Year voting will be credited with a full year of service time
  • Improved benefits for former players
  • Increased slot values in MLB Draft
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