Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is a contract between the MLB owners and players that regulates working conditions ranging from the MLB draft to instant replay. The offices of Major League Baseball do not act unilaterally. In fact, the MLB owners and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) are at constant odds, and the MLBPA has an unusual amount of leverage, possibly the most leverage of any players union in modern American professional sports.
So every few years, the MLB owners and the MLBPA meet and agree on a new CBA. Here are the details from the latest CBA:
2011 MLB CBA
The following is an abridgment of the MLB’s summary of changes.
● The current CBA begins in 2011, lasts 5 years, and ends December 1, 2016. If the owners and MLBPA do not have a new agreement by then, one of two things will happen: Either the parties will agree to operate under the old CBA while continuing negotiations, or a lockout will ensure.
Scheduling, Realignment, and Postseason Play
● There will now be two Wild Card teams per league.
● The Astros move to the AL West in 2013.
● Interleague games will continue through the whole season (the two leagues will have an uneven number of teams starting in 2013).
Reserve System Including Amateur Players
● The Type A / Type B draft pick compensation method and the Elias ranking system are gone. (Draft Pick Compensation: full article)
● Players must spend a whole year with a team to be eligible to bring the team draft pick compensation.
● Compensation only occurs if the player is offered and turns down a 1-year guaranteed contract with a salary equal to the average of the 125-highest paid players (~$12 million or greater).
● No major league contracts for players in the amateur (Rule 4) draft.
● The amateur draft now has hard slots with signing bonus pools, massively limiting the amount teams can spend on draft pick signing bonuses.
● A competitive balance lottery will randomly award low-revenue, small-market teams with additional draft picks. Teams can trade these picks.
● There is now a signing bonus pool for signing international amateur players which, much like the Rule 4 Draft pool, harshly penalizes clubs spending over their limits.
● The biggest 15 markets no longer receive revenue sharing by 2016 at the latest. (Revenue Sharing: full article)
Competitive Balance Tax
● The league is adjusted some of the specifics of its competitive balance tax, decreasing the offense for first timers, increasing it for repeat offenders. (Luxury Tax: full article)
Debt Service Rule
● The league has modified some of its debt rules in an effort to require more vigilant financial conduct.
● Pension plans, life insurance benefits, and health coverage has been improved for players across the board.
Health and Safety
● No new player can use low-density maple bats.
● New, smaller helmets will begin use in 2013 in an effort to protect against concussions and pitches faster than 100 mph.
● The concussion policy from 2011 was improved.
● As of Spring Training 2012, the league has begun blood testing for hGH.
● Players are officially protected against sexual orientation discrimination.
● Instant replay can now overturn fair/foul and “trapped” ball plays.
● The owners and players will agree on a plan to play more international games, specifically in countries where the MLB has not yet played.
Links for Further Reading
A long review from Ben Nicholson-Smith: CBA Details.
A short review from Ben Nicholson-Smith: CBA Highlights.
The MLB’s recap of changes: PDF.
Bradley writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyWoodrum.