The biggest changes in baseball's new CBA include World Series home-field and smokeless tobacco

Big League Stew

Hooray, there’s a new CBA today! The owners and the players reached an agreement several hours before midnight on Wednesday, meaning there won’t be a lockout and baseball will continue. Both parties got things that they wanted, though not everyone was totally satisfied.

Scroll to continue with content

Jon Lester,  you’re a hoot!

The full details of the CBA haven’t been released, and it still has to be ratified, but a few big changes have been reported that are worth mentioning.

Finally we have emerged from the dark days that have plagued us for the last 14 years. No longer will the result of the All-Star Game determine home-field advantage for the World Series. I’ll give you a moment to loudly cheer and celebrate accordingly.

In January 2003, owners voted 30-0 for the ASG result to determine home-field advantage for the Fall Classic, after the 2002 All-Star Game ended in a tie. It was initially a two-year experiment that was extended indefinitely. It’s hard to imagine that anyone on either side was sad to see this silly rule go away, especially since it’s been reported that players in the ASG will have the opportunity to play for a pool of money.

The standard time for the disabled list is changing. It used to be 15 days, but it will be reduced to 10 under the new CBA.

This is supposed to allow teams to make decisions about roster spots more quickly. With the 15-day DL, if a player is only lightly injured and might not need the full two weeks, a team would most likely just wait and see if they were ready instead of putting them on the DL and losing them for 15 days no matter what. With the 10-day DL, a lightly-injured player could be put on the DL without worrying about losing him for more time than necessary, and the team could bring up a replacement with no problem.

Okay, that guy can hold a lot of baseballs in his hands. (Getty Images)
Okay, that guy can hold a lot of baseballs in his hands. (Getty Images)

Even though the baseball season is already pretty long, it’s going to get just a tiny bit longer.

Also in 2018, the season will start in the middle of the week instead of on Sunday-Monday. Both of these changes are supposed to lead to more days off, and there’s also a limit on night games on getaway days when teams are facing long flights after games. So the season will be a little longer, but it’s going to result in a little more rest for the players who have to play 162 games a year.

The new CBA bans the use of smokeless tobacco for all new major leaguers.

“New” is the key word there, since any player who has at least one day of major league service time isn’t “new” and can continue to use smokeless tobacco as they have been. This ban follows the lead of a number of cities that have banned the use of smokeless tobacco in their ballparks, including Washington D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Milwaukee (which approved the ban just over a week ago).

This is something that only affects teams with large payrolls, but as contracts increase across baseball, that’s going to be more and more teams as time goes on. The new CBA sets the luxury tax threshold, or the highest a payroll can be before a team has to pay essentially a penalty.

Considering how big contracts are these days, and how much money baseball itself makes, those aren’t the most progressive numbers. The AP has reported the details on the penalties that teams would have to pay once they’re over the luxury tax:

Tax rates increase from 17.5 percent to 20 percent for first offenders, remain at 30 percent for second offenders and rise from 40 percent to 50 percent for third offenders. There is a new surtax of 12 percent for teams $20 million to $40 million above the threshold, 42.5 percent for first offenders more than $40 million above the threshold and 45 percent for subsequent offenders more than $40 million above.

That’s not the only punishment for teams who are over that luxury tax threshold. According to the AP, if a team is $40 million above that limit, their highest pick in the draft for the next season drops to the fourth round. Owners are apparently not happy about the increase in player contracts, so teams with big payrolls are on notice now and it only stands to hurt players in the long run.

Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista both received qualifying offers from the Blue Jays and turned them down. (AP)
Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista both received qualifying offers from the Blue Jays and turned them down. (AP)

This is one of the more complicated aspects of the new CBA, so let’s break it down into three parts: the player, the team that made the qualifying offer, and the team that eventually signs the player.

  • The Player: If a player gets a qualifying offer, they now have ten days to consider it instead of seven. They can also only get a qualifying offer once in their career instead of repeatedly.

  • The Offering Team: If a team makes a qualifying offer to a player and is turned down, they will be compensated, but not exactly like they were before. If the player in question signs a contract with another team that is more than $50 million, that team gets a draft pick at the end of the first round. If the player signs a contract for under $50 million, they’ll get a pick after competitive balance round B. But if a team pays the luxury tax, then that pick would drop down to the fourth round.

  • The Signing Team: The team that signs the player who turned down the qualifying offer will have to give up their third-highest draft pick, but only if they take part in revenue-sharing. If the team pays the luxury tax for the season that just ended, they’ll give up their second-highest and fifth-highest picks, plus $1 million in the international draft pool. If they’re any other team, they give up their second-highest pick and $500,000 in the international draft pool.

These new rules could change the landscape quite a lot, considering that teams can no longer count on getting a first round pick if a player who turned down their QO signs with another team. Since the pick is now lower depending on how much the player signs for, they might be inspired to trade their players if they think they can get more value. Especially since a player can only be given an qualifying offer once in their career.

The Players Association stood firm on their opposition to an international draft, and they won out. But they also made a huge concession on international signings. They agreed to a hard cap of just under $5 million on international amateur player spending. A hard cap is just that: teams cannot go over that amount. There are no penalties or exceptions. That is all they can spend on international amateurs, full stop. It’s the first time the players union has agreed to a hard cap of any kind, and while it doesn’t depress salaries for those players as much as a draft would have, it still lowers them. Remember, Yoan Moncada signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox that included a $31.5 million bonus. Under these new rules, those kinds of bonuses are history.

Since the full details of the new CBA haven’t been released, there will likely be a lot more to learn in the coming days. Big League Stew will have you covered, so stay tuned.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

– – – – – –

Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

What to Read Next