Griffin: Peace in our time continues for MLB with new CBA
At long last, with little in the way of vitriol and posturing, baseball finally made the expected announcement with regard to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
There had never been any doubt in anyone's mind that major-league baseball and its players' union would reach agreement before push came to destructive shove, a glitch that would have precipitated another of pro sports' seemingly endless work stoppages. It wasn't going to happen. Everyone is doing too well and there's too much money involved. Both sides, the players and owners, learned from the cancellation of the World Series in '94, a work stoppage that extended into April of 95 and commissioner Bud Selig is working hard to amend his final legacy to be "peace in our time" ... and prosperity.
On Tuesday afternoon in New York, the two sides held a joint press conference announcing that they have arrived at a new five-year CBA that will carry though until December 2016. That will be 21 seasons of labour peace, an unprecedented period of tranquility since Marvin Miller formed the Players' Association back in the '60s.
"This is a good day for baseball," Michael Weiner, executive director of the MLBPA said in making the announcement, seated alongside Selig. "This is an agreement that will benefit all players, an agreement that will benefit all clubs. It's not just a good day for baseball but a good day for collective bargaining."
There was never any doubt that a deal would be done. No posturing, no threats, no issues bigger than the game, no issues too big to be solved through negotiation. The bulk of the negotiations was handled on the owners side by Rob Manfred, executive VP of labor relations and on the players' side by Weiner. Players and owners are satisfied with the results, including HGH blood testing for the first time, and the fans win.
Highlights of baseball's new collective bargaining agreement include:
1-Immediate blood testing for Human Growth Hormone starting at spring training next year. Baseball had been waiting for a reliable blood test before moving forward and the players have agreed. The penalty for a first failed test is 50 games, the same as for performance enhancing drugs, which had been a urinalysis.
"There's a lot of history here," Selig said. "It's the strongest program today in American sports and we've now strengthened it. Both parties agree that it's the right thing to do and we've strengthened it. It shows the cooperation of both parties and how important we both think it is. It's important to the fans and we did something about it."
2-The Amateur draft will not have hard-slotting by round and position, something that owners had been campaigning for, but there will be a "luxury tax" for teams that go over a certain total of player signing bonuses over the 50 rounds, similar to what already exists with payrolls. "We preserved the rights of drafted players to bargain individually," Weiner said.
The compensation system for lost free agents will be amended with teams not being forced to give up their own draft picks for Type A players, but teams will get additional picks for losing the premier free agents based on the money being offered. The Elias rankings will disappear.
The area of signing international free agents will be an ongoing negotiation, with the players from overseas not being included in the draft, but with some new restrictions.
3-By 2013, the leagues will be realigned with the Astros moving to the American League, something that was important to the players feelings of competitive fairness. In addition, a second wild-card team will be added as early as 2012.
4-There is a competitive balance tax that will be clarified later, but the fact is that only five franchises have not been to the playoffs since 2001.
5-There will be expanded use of instant replay, the final result to be arrived at in conjunction with the umpires union to include fair or foul and other questions.
6-The minimum salary will got from $418,000 to $480,000 starting in 2013.
Since the great strike of '94 the players and the owners have worked together in areas like creation of the World Baseball Classic, a rookie education program at a week-long seminar in the D.C. area and in drug testing, helped along by pressure from the U.S. Congress.