Unlike the NBA and NFL, Major League Baseball and its players came to a pretty quick agreement on their new collective bargaining agreement. The two sides signed a five-year labor deal on Nov. 22 that will see baseball initiate blood testing to fight against human growth hormone (HGH). It will also expand the MLB playoffs to 10 clubs by the 2013 season. Team owners are hoping that a competitive balance can be achieved in the league with the new contract.
There are several interesting aspects of the new deal. For instance, players are expected to play in the annual All Star game and will only be excused from duty if they’re injured or for some other acceptable reason. The use of instant video replay is going to be expanded and will now include decisions on the foul lines and traps. Players, coaches, managers, and umpires won’t be allowed to use any type of smokeless tobacco items or have them in their uniforms while they’re being interviewed on television.
In addition, ball players that are arrested for DWI have to undergo mandatory evaluation and Rawlings will become the official supplier of the league’s batting helmets by 2013. If a player tests positive for HGH he will receive a suspension of 50 games, which is the same punishment as testing positive for any type of performance-enhancing drug. This was one of the biggest issues of the agreement according to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who said it’s in the best interests of the game.
Random blood testing on HGH is set to happen in spring training as well as the off-season. However, the two sides didn’t come to an agreement that will see random blood testing taking place during the baseball season. The players’ union boss Michael Weiner said the players don’t have a problem with the random testing, but they have the right to appeal if any positive tests are found.
The two sides are hoping to come to some sort of agreement in the near future regarding in-season random testing, but the players’ union doesn’t want it to interfere with the health and safety of its members since they play almost every day between February and October. Weiner said the current test can only reveal HGH in a player’s blood from between 48 and 72 hours. He added that the majority of players are for the testing because they want to be competing on a level field where nobody has an illegal advantage.
Two more teams will be added to the current playoff system and this change could come as early as next season. This will see 10 out of 30 MLB clubs make it to the postseason. The owners will decide in January if the playoffs will be altered next year or in 2013. The two wild card clubs in each league will face off in a playoff game with the winners advancing to the division series. Also, the Houston Astros will move to the AL West in 2013 from the NL Central. This will give the American and National leagues three divisions of five teams each.
The league’s payroll luxury tax kicks in at $178 million for the next two years and will be implemented when the payroll reaches $189 million between 2014 and 2016. A player’s minimum salary will be $500,000 in 2014 with cost-of-living expenses added in 2015 and 2016. Small-market teams will receive extra amateur draft selections which can also be used in trades.
In 2013 the compensation system for free agency will be revised. Teams will have to offer its free agents the average salary of the league’s 125 top contracts, which at the moment would be about $12.5 million, before they are eligible to receive draft picks as compensation if the player signs elsewhere. Starting next summer, teams that sign amateur players from international leagues such as the Venezuela and the Dominican Republic will have to pay a luxury tax on any signings over $2.9 million.