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MLB owners sign off on collective bargaining agreement

The owners of Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs have agreed to the proposed terms of a new collective bargaining agreement, through which labour peace is set to continue in the North American league.

The Associated Press news agency, citing a person with knowledge of the meeting, reported that MLB owners have ratified the CBA with a 29-1 vote. Tampa Bay Rays managing general partner Stuart Sternberg was reportedly the only individual to oppose the agreement.

The five-year CBA, which will run through the 2021 season, was first unveiled on November 30 – just hours before the expiration of the previous contract – in a move to avoid the prospect of a first lockout in the sport for over two decades.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement today (Wednesday): "This agreement allows us to build on the positive momentum from last season and promote a generation of young players who represent the National Pastime extraordinarily well. We are looking forward to the many opportunities ahead to continue the game's growth."

A key element of the CBA is a commitment to international events, with Manfred keen to broaden the league’s global brand. It was confirmed earlier this month that MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) had agreed on an international play plan in which clubs will stage games or tours in Mexico, Asia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and London, England over the next five years.

Players will receive additional compensation for participating in club and league-sanctioned events, in amounts ranging from $15,000 (€14,080) to $100,000 per player depending on the location and schedule. The parties have agreed to allow Manfred to schedule regular-season games at sites other than major or minor League stadiums in the United States and Canada, and players will receive additional compensation for participating in these events.

The CBA will also result in home field advantage in the World Series being awarded to the pennant winner with the better record, rather than the league that wins the All-Star Game. The MLB and MLBPA said that all players active on the roster of the winning All-Star team will share equally in a $640,000 bonus in a move designed to keep the All-Star Game competitive. The threshold for the luxury tax, known formally as the competitive balance tax, also rises from $189m this year to $195m in 2017 to $210m in the deal's final season.

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 previous deal expired.

The MLB’s last lockout ran from August 12, 1994 to April 2, 1995, resulting in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.

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