Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of discussion about the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) and how it could potentially interfere with teams signing players, or even cause a lockout. Yesterday the CBA was completed, but some folks still don’t know exactly what it is, or what the implemented changes mean for the 2017 season. It’s pretty muddled, so my goal is to make it as easy to understand for the casual fan as possible.
In the most basic terms, the CBA is an agreement between baseball owners and the players union. Negotiations are made leading up to the agreement, with both sides attempting to gain the better outcome (as with any financial or work agreement) and ultimately the CBA must be agreed upon if there will be any movement with player signings or trades. Now that it’s all wrapped up, here’s what’s new:
- Introduction of the 10-day disabled list: it used to be the 15-day disabled list, which was a real bummer if one of your starting pitchers was dealing with something like a blister and might be forced to miss upwards of three starts depending on the timing. This should make the choice to put someone on the DL a lot less dramatic.
- The All-Star Game is meaningless again: well, it’s still fun, but now it’s just for show, like it ought to be. For the last several years the big bonus of the All-Star Game was that the winning team scored home-field advantage for their League (ie: the NL All-Stars won, they’d get the first 2 World Series games at home.) Now this is blessedly done and dusted and the team with the best record will get home field advantage (like the Cubs really should have this year)
- Minimum player salary has gone up: and will continue to go up. It’ll be $535K in ’17, $545K in ’18, and $555K in ’19. This isn’t all that much, kind of a bare minimum offer from the ownership. And there will be additional cost of living increases in ’20 and ’21. There are a few increases for minor league players as well, but nothing to write home about.
- No 26th man: there was some debate about adding a 26th player slot to team rosters, but it’s a no-go. This might have given teams an opportunity to promote skilled minor league players sooner, but things will remain at 25.
- Luxury tax threshold increases: it’s up to about $195 million for 2017 and will get up to $210 million by 2021. There are also new penalties for teams who spend over the threshold (20% tax the first time, then 30% and 50% on subsequent years, and it gets more complicated the more they spend, and I just fell asleep typing this)
- There are changes to the qualifying offer system but they are complex and if you just want to watch baseball they are deeply boring. I’ll include a link to the MLB Trade Rumors site who go into wayyyy more detail about luxury tax and the new qualifying offer system. Same goes for the limits on how much a team can spend to recruit internationally.
- There’s a cap on how much teams can offer for international signing bonuses, which will probably curtail some international spending.
- New players can’t chew smokeless tobacco, but existing players can continue to. Yes, this is a real thing. I know it’s the MLB’s way to move towards a totally tobacco free environment, but it’s a pretty funny thing to see in the CBA.
- In 2018 we’ll see some changes to scheduling, with the season starting in the middle of the week to allow for extra off-days, and the possibility of more games being played abroad during the regular season (Think London, Mexico, etc.
- Oakland A’s will be phased out of revenue sharing for some reason that I think involved hoarding checks.
And there it is, mostly. The CBA has changed a lot in the way teams pay, a little in the way players play, and a tiny bit in how we watch the game.