Monday’s reported announcement of a new labour agreement between Major League Baseball owners and players probably will be met with relief, especially from fans, and perhaps a flurry of free-agent signings.
Negotiators reached a verbal understanding when they met late Thursday at the InterContinental O'Hare in Rosemont, Ill., a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because the agreement still was being drafted.
Sources told FOXSports.com on Thursday night that the new five-year deal is done, and that will mean 21 consecutive years of labour peace for a sport that had eight work stoppages from 1972 to 1995.
The current contract had an expiration date of Dec. 11.
The last item to fall in place was the luxury tax on high payroll teams.
The cancellation of the 1994 World Series seems a distant memory now with MLB considered the model for labour relations in professional sports.
Part of baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement will involve restraints on amateur draft spending, the addition of two wild-card berths for either next season or 2013 and changes to the luxury tax and revenue sharing.
There would be progressive penalties penalties for teams whose total spending on draft picks exceed thresholds, similar to the luxury-tax concept on high payrolls that has been part of baseball labour contracts since the 2003 season.
Negotiators also worked to lower the percentage of major league free agents who require the highest form of draft pick compensation for the teams losing them, an incentive for teams to sign more free agents.
In addition, there will be a separate restraint on the amount of money spent to sign international amateur free agents from nations such as the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Cuba. There also will be a committee established to review the system for international signings, leaving open the possibility of a new system during the term of the deal.
Teams have until Nov. 23 to offer arbitration to their Type A free agents (currently the top 20 per cent at their position based on a variety of statistics as determined by the Elias Sports Bureau).
Players would have until Dec. 7 to accept or reject. If they accept, the player must remain with the team and either work out a new contract or go to arbitration.
If rejected, players can join any team but the club that offered them arbitration would receive compensation. Under the current agreement that includes no less than a sandwich pick between the first and second round of next June’s amateur draft plus the signing club’s first-round pick if it finished with one of the 15 best records in the majors.
As part of the deal, players and owners are agreeing to add an extra wild-card round to the playoffs. The extra round will be one game, winner take all.