Updated: Mar 11
Photo Credit: GettyImages
On Thursday, the MLB owners and MLBPA came to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. Baseball is back and the 2022 season will begin April 7th. Players are to report to Spring Training by Sunday March 13th, and we finally have baseball. After all the talk of who’s to blame, cancellation of games, bad blood and mistrust, the season will include all 162 games. Free agency is ready to get started as soon as this past Thursday night. The well-documented bad blood between MLB owners and MLB Players has been softened for another 5 years.
But out of this new MLB CBA comes a list of changes and new rules that will impact this game for years to come. The new MLB CBA gives owners the power to add rules like a pitch clock, restrictions on defensive positioning or shifts, and the installation of larger bases. These rules will be coming soon, but there are new rules in place that should improve the game and give players opportunities to have jobs, and owners incentives to win. Let's break down the biggest impact from the new collective bargaining agreement.
Competitive balance tax increase from $210MM to $230MM
The Competitive Balance Tax, or CBT, has acted like a “soft salary cap” for most MLB teams. This has been widely used as a way for teams to not have to pay luxury tax to the league for going over the luxury tax threshold. It was thought to be a mechanism to not give a competitive edge to high revenue teams like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers. It was in theory enacted to help teams like the Royals, Pirates, and Rays be competitive and level the playing field. But from the players perspective, it was always a way to limit their negotiation power and how much they can earn at deal negotiation time.
By raising this threshold now teams like the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers are players in this year's free agency that started Thursday. Now there’s no excuse for teams like my Yankees to keep spending and adding players they would normally have to pass on. More teams at the negotiation table means a bidding war, which in turn means more money handed out to players. This also gives players more opportunity to find jobs in the league as they might have been shut out because teams were up against that soft cap.
MLB Playoffs expanded to 12 teams
Photo Credit: GettyImages
The league is now expanding from 10 teams to 12 teams in the playoffs. With the new CBA, we will have 6 teams qualify for the playoffs in each league and 2 teams earning a first round bye. The original proposal asked for 14 teams which would have 7 teams from each league and 1 team earning a bye.
Expanding the playoffs may water down the postseason product and de-emphasize the regular season. But by adding a first round bye it also puts emphasis back on the regular season to win games to earn that bye. Also it incentivizes owners to sign players to help them get into the playoffs as they won't be easily eliminated during the stretch run. Also another playoff team in the playoffs means more revenue for said owner and said Team. This is a win for both sides as the players and the owners can reap the rewards of more earning power.
NL adopts a Universal DH
Photo Credit : Call To The Pen
This rule is going to be controversial for purists of the National League and futurists of the American League. As an American League guy, there's nothing more awful than watching a picture hit in the night spot. It almost comes as an easy out, pitcher's statistical numbers are inflated and runs come lesser and lesser.
Adding the DH to the National League will lengthen lineups and hopefully save pictures from having to hit and run the bases. Yankee fans cringe when they think of former picture Ching Ming Wong running the bases in Houston and subsequently ending his Yankees career. The other thing that this rule does is adding another position player to most teams means 16+ more jobs that are available for possible free agents to stick with a team. That means more money for players and more opportunities to stay in the big leagues. Players like Nelson Cruz, who might have been out of the league, can now flourish and keep his playing career going past 30 years old by being a DH.
A draft lottery to discourage tanking
Photo Credit: GettyImages
This is another big rule that is implemented that I absolutely love. While there's a lot of discussion about teams not trying to win in Major League baseball so that they can improve their draft position and increase their profits. Most teams have money, but choose not to spend it so that they can keep their money, improve draft position and buy on the cheap through the draft. The Marlins and Derek Jeter came to an impasse over $15MM that the owners chose not to spend.
Adding a new tanking rule now slowly pushes owners to spending rather than keeping the money and choosing not to win on purpose. As evidenced in the NBA, the draft lottery has always been a form of competitive balance that keeps teams from taking to get the best players in the draft like the Philadelphia 76ers. Now there's no guarantee that you'll get the top pick in the draft, so owners beware.
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