Major League Baseball and its Players Association today announced that the two sides have come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. There are plenty of jokes to be made at the expense of both the billionaires who own the teams and the millionaires who play the game, but what it all boils down to is something that Getting Blanked contributor The Common Man wrote in his own review of part of the agreement:

More baseball is inherently better than less baseball.

This is the truth. And given the amount of strife that followed the NFL players and their teams’ owners, not to mention the ongoing dispute between the NBA players and their teams’ owners, it’s refreshing to see a group of people earning more money than most of us can dream possible not go to great lengths to nickel and dime each other into a work stoppage.

Nonetheless, the times, they are a-changing in Major League Baseball. Here are some of the details that have come about from the newest agreement. The list will be updated as the press conference progresses.

The Good

  • The Houston Astros will join the American League in 2013, realigning MLB into two 15 team leagues.
  • Two wild card teams will be added, possibly ahead of the 2012 season (TBD by March 1st, 2012).
  • The remaining Type A free agent relievers and Michael Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson and Josh Willingham will not cost signing teams a draft pick. The teams that those relievers played for last season will still receive compensatory draft picks.
  • Starting in the 2012 off season, teams will have to make a qualifying offer of a one year guaranteed contract to players eligible to become free agents in order to receive compensation if the player signs with another club. That amount will be the average salary of the 125-highest paid players from the prior season. Teams that sign players who have been offered these lucrative one year guaranteed contracts will surrender their first round draft choice, unless the team has a top ten picks. In this case, the team will give up their second highest pick instead.
  • Draft signing deadline moves from August 15 to between July 12 and 18. That’s a very fast turn around. This may seem fast, but remember that most of the top picks sign before the deadline but aren’t announced so as not to drive up the cost of other picks.
  • The minimum salary will increase from $414,000 this year to $480,000K in 2012 and $500,000 in later years.
  • Instant replay will be expanded to include fair/foul plays and plays in which the ball has possibly been trapped by the fielder between his glove and the field. However, this will remain subject to discussions between MLB and the umpires.
  • Sexual orientation will be added to the discrimination clause.
  • MLB players, managers and coaches are now prohibited from using smokeless tobacco during televised interviews and club appearances.
  • By 2013, all Major League Baseball players will wear a new batting helmet designed to protect against pitches thrown at 100 miles per hour.

The Bad

  • There will be limits on total spending for signing bonuses given out to draft picks. Teams that go over slot up to 5% on the draft will face a 75% tax. Teams that go over slot by 5-10% face a 75% tax and the loss of a first rounder. Teams that go over slot by 10-15% face a 100% tax and the loss of a first and second rounder. Teams that exceed slot by 15% or more face a 100% tax and the loss of two first rounders. Teams that don’t exceed their draft spending limit will have a chance to obtain picks from teams that over-spent.
  • There will also be limits on total spending for international free agent spending. Starting in 2013-14, teams will be given a spending allowance for international signings. The organizations will be able to trade money from this spending allowance. However, teams can only raise their spending limit by 50% through such trades. Every team will have $2.9MM to spend on international bonuses this off season. Eventually the limits will be in the range of $1.8 million to $5 million. The future is open for an international draft.
  • No MLB contracts can be handed out to either drafted players or international free agent signings.
  • Cubans under 23 years old with less than three years of professional experience will be considered amateurs and count against international spending limits.
  • The international signing limits will not affect the posting system for players from Asia.
  • There will now be six draft picks immediately after the first round given out via lottery to teams with 10 lowest revenues, 10 smallest markets. For the teams that don’t get one of those six picks, they will be entered in another lottery open for all teams with six picks after second round. Accounting departments just became the new market inefficiency.
  • Instead of eliminating it completely, the Super Two cutoff will increase from the top 17% of players with 2-3 years service time to the top 22%.

The Ugly

  • Blood testing for human growth hormone will commence, but not this season without reasonable suspicion. Offseason testing will begin next winter. Apparently, neither MLB nor the MLBPA read J.C. Bradbury. It’s even more of a shame that this will end up being what most media outlets grab hold of as the top story.
  • MLB rosters will expand to 26 for some doubleheaders. Weak sauce. If players used HGH, this wouldn’t be necessary. Settle down, I’m joking.
  • Participation in the All-Star Game is mandatory unless the player is unable to play due to injury. Do we really need rules for this? If so, it’s kind of a comment on the relevance of the All-Star Game.