According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, owners and players reached tentative agreement on a new labor deal on Thursday, ending the MLB lockout. Many deals have yet to be confirmed, but according to reports, players can report to spring training as early as tomorrow with games to begin March 17 and the regular season opener scheduled for April 7.
The regular season would be extended by three days, with doubleheaders to make up for the lost games. The transaction freeze will be lifted as soon as a deal is officially ratified, which will take place at 5 p.m. CT, allowing trades to be made and players to sign MLB free agent deals.
Owners and players agreed to table the international draft issue that had been a last minute sticking point in negotiations until July 25. If players agree to a draft that begins in 2024, owners will drop the Qualifying Offer draft pick compensation. There were some last minute leaks of owners asking players to drop a 2018 grievance filed by the union over low spending by the Rays, Athletics, Marlins, and Pirates, and a 2020 grievance over how pay was determined in the shortened 2020 season.
In addition to the CBT move, the minimum salary governing players with less than three years of major league service will jump from $570,500 to $700,000, growing to $780,000, and a bonus pool worth $50 million will be distributed among those younger players who have yet to reach salary arbitration.
MLB had pushed for expanding the postseason to 12 teams — a plan to which the MLBPA agreed. Additionally, player uniforms will feature advertising for the first time, with patches on jerseys and decals on batting helmets.
The National League would adopt the designated hitter, double-headers would once again be nine-innings, and the extra-inning baserunner rule is eliminated. There will be a draft lottery, incentives to discourage service time manipulation, and players can be optioned to the minors no more than five times in a season.
The important thing now is that baseball is back!