Major League Baseball (MLB) has sealed a “tentative” five-year labour agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) in a move that is set to avoid the prospect of a first lockout in the sport for over two decades.
The new collective bargaining agreement, which is subject to ratification by both parties, was announced on Wednesday evening and is set to run through the 2021 MLB season. In a statement, MLB said the parties are continuing to draft the entirety of the agreement, adding specific terms of the pact will be made available when the drafting process is complete.
As part of the deal, the Associated Press news agency said the experiment of having the All-Star Game determine which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series will end after 14 years. Instead, the pennant winner with the better regular-season record will open the Series at home.
The AP added that the luxury tax threshold will rise from $189m (€178.3m) to $195m next year, before increasing to $197m in 2018, $206m in 2019, $209m in 2020 and $210m in 2021. Tax rates for teams exceeding the threshold will rise from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent for first-time offences, remain at 30 per cent for second instances and increase from 40 to 50 per cent for third-time instances.
MLB.com added that rather than an international draft, which owners had sought, the two sides agreed to a bonus pool system, with a hard cap on how much each team can spend. That pool is expected to be $5m to $6m per team. The regular season will also expand from 183 days to 187 starting in 2018, creating four more scheduled off days.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement that the deal “will benefit all involved in the game and leaves the game better for those who follow.” MLB has enjoyed 21 consecutive years of labour peace and owners were reportedly considering voting to lock out the players if the two parties could not agree terms on a new CBA, which outlines the division and allocation of baseball-related revenue and working conditions, by the time the current deal expires today (Thursday).
The MLB’s last lockout ran from August 12, 1994 to April 2, 1995, resulting in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.