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What you need to know about MLB’s new CBA

Major League Baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement features plenty of new wrinkles that will alter the way the sport operates.

St Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a lockout that lasted more than three months, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA reached agreement Thursday on a new collective bargaining agreement that will allow the sport to conduct a full, 162-game season while hopefully improving conditions for players.

Here’s what you need to know about the new wrinkles in that agreement:

  • There will be an expanded 12-team postseason field. The one-game Wild Card playoff will be abolished. Instead, the division winner with the worst record and the wild-card team with the best record in each league will host three-game series against the two lower-seeded wild-card teams.
  • The lowest threshold for the competitive-balance tax will rise to $230 million in 2022, $233M in 2023, $237M in 2024, $241M in 2025, and $244M in 2026. There will now be three additional thresholds at which teams will pay higher spending penalties — those thresholds will be at $250 million, $270M, and $290M in 2022. Other than the new fourth threshold, tax rates will remain the same as they were in the last CBA.
  • The minimum salary will rise substantially from $570,500 in 2021 to $700,000 in 2022. It’ll increase to $720,000 in 2023, $740,000 in 2024, $760,000 in 2025, and $780,000 in 2026.
  • Starting in 2023, teams will play fewer divisional games and will play every other team in the majors in at least one series per season.
  • MLB will institute a draft lottery in an attempt to reduce tanking. The top six picks will be chosen through a lottery process, with all non-playoff teams having a chance at securing one of those picks. If a small-market team have a lottery pick in two straight drafts, it cannot pick higher than 10th in the next draft. If a large-market team ever has a lottery pick, it cannot pick higher than 10th in the next draft.
  • The amateur draft will remain at 20 rounds, like it was in 2021. The top 300 draft prospects as determined by MLB will be eligible to participate in a pre-draft combine, and the top 300 players in the draft pool who submit to a pre-draft physical must be offered at least 75% of the slot value associated with the pick they are selected with.
  • In an effort to curb service-time manipulation, the league will reward compensatory draft picks to teams who carry players who finish top-3 in Rookie of the Year Award voting or top-5 in Cy Young or MVP voting on their Opening Day rosters.
  • The top two finishers in Rookie of the Year voting in each league will receive a full year of service time.
  • A $50 million bonus pool has been established in order to boost earnings for players who are not yet arbitration eligible and therefore earn the league minimum or close to it. The pool will remain at $50 million per season over the length of the deal and will count as $1.66 million against each team’s salary cap competitive-balance tax figure.
  • Players can be optioned to the minors a maximum of five times per season before they must be exposed to waivers.
  • The universal DH has been instituted, meaning that pitchers in the National League will no longer be required to hit, and players like Nelson Cruz with serious defensive deficiencies will have 30 serious suitors, rather than just 15.
  • MLB can implement on-field rule changes with 45 days’ notice, meaning changes to the game can be made during a single offseason rather than with a year’s notice, as was previously required. A committee of six league officials, four union appointees, and an umpire will be formed to discuss these potential changes.
  • The league and union have already agreed to implement pitch clocks, restrictions on defensive shifts, and larger bases in 2023.
  • Teams will be able to sell advertising patches on uniforms and helmets.
  • The league and union will continue to discuss the possibility of instituting an international draft through July 25 of this year. If an agreement is reached, the qualifying offer process will go away. If they decide not to do an international draft, things will stay the same as they were during the last CBA.