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Outlining the details of the new 2017-2021 CBA

Christmas has come early for baseball fans as we have official word of five more years of labor peace in the sport. The IBI's Arthur Kinney has the rundown of the major provisions of the new CBA...

As you know by now, the Commissioner's Office and the Major League Baseball Players Association officially announced a new Collective Bargaining Agreement recently that will extend the sport's run of labor peace to 26 years (For those of you too young to remember when current NHL union head Donald Fehr ran the MLBPA and 26 weeks of labor peace seemed like a lot, this stretch is nothing short of a miracle to those of us over 30).

In the coming days, I will take a closer look at these provisions and what this labor pact means for the next half-decade of professional baseball. I also hope to be able to take a look at some of the minutiae of the CBA in a third column should a copy of the full CBA be made available by MLB and the MLBPA. Stay tuned...

For now, here is a rundown of the changes in the new deal which expires December 1, 2021:

Qualifying Offers

A player may now only receive one Qualifying Offer in his career. The time frame for a player to consider a Qualifying Offer has been extended to 10 days from 7 days. Here is what a team forfeits or gains with regarding to signing or losing a qualifying offer free agent:

Team signing a Qualifying Offer free agent forfeit:
 - Third-highest draft pick (excluding competitive balance picks) if they receive revenue sharing
 - Second-highest draft pick (excluding competitive balance picks) and $500,000 of International Bonus Pool space if they do not receive revenue sharing nor pay luxury tax. Note, forfeited International bonus pool space will be distributed equally among all teams who did not forfeit space.
 - Second-highest and Fifth-highest draft picks (excluding competitive balance picks) and $1 million of International Bonus Pool space if they pay luxury tax. Again, forfeited International bonus pool space will be distributed equally among all teams who did not forfeit space.
- Signing multiple Qualifying Offer free agents results in loss of multiple picks (second-highest, third-highest, or second and fifth-highest remaining after prior forfeiture)

Team losing a Qualifying Offer free agent receives:
 - A pick between the First Round and Competitive Balance Round A if they receive revenue sharing and the player's contract is $50 million or more (only guaranteed money counts toward this total).
 - A pick between Competitive Balance Round B and the Third Round if they do not pay luxury tax and the prior circumstances do not apply where either the team does not receive revenue sharing or the contract was under $50 million).
 - A pick between the Fourth Round and the Fifth Round if they pay luxury tax.

International Bonus Pool

There is now a hard cap with three tiers that will grow year-to-year based on MLB revenue increases:

 - Teams with a pick in Competitive Balance Round B - $5.75 million
 - Teams with a pick in Competitive Balance Round A - $5.25 million
 - All other teams - $4.75 million

International bonus pool space is tradeable as a team may trade away all of their space if they so wish; however, a team may only accrue additional space up to 75% of their limit during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 signing periods and up to 60% thereafter. Bonuses of $10,000 or less are exempt as well as foreign professionals age 25 or older with six professional seasons. Violators can be penalized up to 50% of their International Bonus Pool space through 2021. Teams currently restricted to a maximum $300,000 per foreign player bonus due to violations under prior CBA remain under such restriction.

Draft Changes

- The lottery has been abolished for the Competitive Balance rounds. Now, the 10 smallest-market teams receive picks (Detroit Tigers are ineligible) and teams will alternate between Round A and B each year.
- There is no change in overall pool size for the draft, though the slot for the top pick is reduced in order to bring slots for Picks two through five closer to the #1 overall slot.
- A procedure will be put in place for teams to obtain MRIs from draft prospects on a voluntary basis.
- There are unspecified improvements to the College Scholarship Plan, especially for non-American players.
- Teams $40 million or more over the luxury tax threshold will have their top pick dropped ten spots (unless it is in the top six overall, then their second pick will drop ten spots).

Revenue Sharing Changes

The Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves are now eligible to receive revenue sharing while the Oakland Athletics' eligibility to receive revenue sharing is to be phased out as follows:
- 2017: receive 75 percent of normal revenue sharing payment
- 2018: receive 50 percent of normal revenue sharing payment
- 2019: receive 25 percent of normal revenue sharing payment
- 2020: ineligible

The New York Yankees retain shared revenue offsets related to construction of new Yankee Stadium. The Performance Factor has been removed from the revenue sharing formula. The percentage of MLB revenue transferred via revenue sharing remains unchanged.

All-Star Game Changes

- The All Star game outcome no longer determines home-field advantage in the World Series as that distinction now goes to the league champion with the better regular season record. Also, the prize is now $20,000 for each player on the winning team.

Here is a breakdown of the All-Star Game roster changes:
- 32 man-rosters: 20 position players, 12 pitchers - down from 34 players.
- Fan Vote: 8 position players in NL, 9 position players in AL.
- Player Vote: 8 position players in NL, 9 position players in AL, 8 pitchers [5 starters, 3 relievers] in both leagues.
- Commissioner's Choice: 3 position players in NL, 1 position player in AL, 4 pitchers in both leagues.
- Final Vote: 1 player in each league, appears to now be limited to position players.
- All-Star team managers no longer involved in process.
- Home Run Derby format unchanged, but prize money will increase each year of CBA.

Roster Rules

- Roster size remains unchanged at 25 active players.
- 15-Day Disabled List now 10-day Disabled List.
- Absolute trade deadline on second-to-last Sunday of season. No trades are allowed the last week of the season, even with waivers and loss of postseason eligibility.
- Time frame to make decision on a player designated for assignment down to 7 days (from 10 days).
- Players optioned to the minors now must remain on a minor league roster for 10 days even if their minor league team's season ends during those 10 days (previously there was an end-of-season exemption).
- Players can now be optioned to the minors without clearing waivers first.

Schedule Changes

- Schedule length remains 162 games but the season starts four days earlier on the Wednesday before it would usually start in order to increase the number of off days from 21 to 25 beginning in 2018.
- Year of Service Time remains at 172 days.
- Unspecified restrictions on start times (i.e. earlier) on getaway days.
- Special event games at non-MLB parks.
- Scheduling of domestic special events (United States and Canada) now at full discretion of the Commissioner, but players involved now receive unspecified additional compensation.
- Foreign special events agreed to in London, Mexico, Asia, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.  Players involved to be paid between $15,000 and $100,000 per event based on travel distance and number of games.

Drug Testing Changes

Players are no longer credited with service time while serving drug suspensions unless an arbitrator reduces the suspension by 20 or more games due to mitigating circumstances. Here are some of the changes to the testing and the penalties:

Increased urine testing for Performance-Enhancing Drugs:
- All players on 40-Man Rosters to be tested.
- In-season tests increase from 3,200 a year to 4,800.
- Out-of-season tests increase from 350 a year to 1,500.

Increased blood testing for Human Growth Hormone:
- In-season tests increase from 260 a year to 500.
- Out-of-season tests increase from 140 a year to 400.
- Biomarker testing for Human Growth Hormone to begin next year.

Increased penalties for Banned Stimulant Use:
- 1st Offense - Follow-Up testing (same as old CBA).
- 2nd Offense - 50-Game suspension (was 25 Games).
- 3rd Offense - 100-Game suspension (was 50 Games).
- 4th Offense - Unspecified suspension, can be permanent (same as old CBA).

Greater leeway for arbitrator to reduce suspension if positive test found to not be the player's fault:
- 1st Offense - Can be reduced to as short as 30 Games (was 40 Games).
- 2nd Offense - Can be reduced to as short as 60 Games (was 80 Games).

Clubhouse Changes

Tobacco ban and updates:
- Chewing tobacco ban for players with no service time prior to 2017.
- Was already banned (for all players) during pre and post-game interviews and at team functions.
- Ban (for all players) on carrying can of tobacco in pants pocket while fans are in the ballpark remains in place.
- Will be banned for all players in municipalities that ban chewing tobacco inside the ballpark.

All teams must hire (if they have not already) the following for the clubhouse:
- Chef
- Registered Dietitian
- Translator

Other miscellaneous amenities/details:
- All teams must provide access to a sports psychologist but cannot force a player to use said service.
- All teams must provide non-English speaking players opportunities to learn English.
- Joint Player-Management Advisory Council on each team to consult with team chef and dietitian.
- Dietitian jointly employed by MLB and MLBPA to advise teams on nutrition and supplements.
- Unspecified anti-hazing and anti-bullying clauses.
- Players guaranteed two seats each on team bus traveling to and from spring training games.
- Meal money may be paid in the form of check cards.

Player Benefit Changes

- Current players continue to receive maximum pension benefit allowed by the IRS.
- The teams' contribution to medical and pension benefits has been increased to approximately $200 million per year.
- There are unspecified improvements to medical, dental, and disability benefits.
- Guaranteed minimum team contribution to players' IRAs based on service time.
- Increases in allowance payments to players (moving allowance for traded players only category specified in press release).
- Increased pension benefits to retired players and continuation of payments to retired players not vested in MLB Pension Plan.

Minimum Salary

Here are the new figures for the Major League minimum salary and for the minor league players on the 40-Man roster for second or more time:

- 2016 (old deal) - $507,500 ($82,700)
- 2017 (new deal) - $535,000 ($86,500)
- 2018 - $545,000 ($88,000)
- 2019 - $555,000 ($89,500)
- 2020 and 2021 (last year of new deal) - Cost of Living increases

Luxury Tax Threshold

2016 (old deal):  $189 million
2017 (new deal):  $195 million
2018:  $197 million
2019:  $206 million
2020:  $209 million
2021 (last year of new deal):  $210 million

Luxury Tax Rates

- First season over threshold:  20% (during term of this CBA)
- Second season over threshold*:  30%
- Third or more season over threshold*:  50%

Surtax Rates (in addition to above Luxury Tax Rates)

- 12% on each dollar between $20 million and $40 million over the threshold
- 42.5% on each dollar beyond $40 million over the threshold (first time)
- 45% on each dollar beyond $40 million over the threshold (second or more time)

Domestic Violence Policy Changes

- Unspecified procedural-changes to strengthen the policy and expedite investigations by the Commissioner's Office.


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