Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have agreed to a new five-year collective bargaining agreement, which will run through the 2021 season, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, ensuring 26-straight seasons of labor peace in baseball.
There are three significant changes with the new deal. Rosenthal reported that starting in 2018, the regular season will extend by four days from 183 days to 187, while 162 games will still be played. The extra four days will give each team four more off days, and the extra four days will also count towards players' service time. It was reported to the Associated Press that the All-Star Game will no longer determine home-field advantage in the World Series. Home-field advantage in the World Series will now be determined by which pennant winner had the better regular season record. It was also reported that the minimum of 15 days that a player has to spend on the disabled list will be reduced to 10.
There were also a few minor changes with the new CBA. Rosenthal reported that the luxury tax threshold will go up to $195 million next season, and that it will go up to $210 million by the 2021 season. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported that no teams will lose first-round draft picks as part of free agent compensation.
There were a couple of expected changes that ended up not happening. MLB Network insider Joel Sherman reported that major league roster sizes will stay at 25 players, and it also appears, for now, that there will be no chances to Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
With the new CBA in place, Baseball's Annual Winter Meetings are set to begin as planned on late Sunday at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor Maryland, just south of Washington, D.C. All 30 major league clubs will be present.
With the Winter Meetings coming up, the Hot Stove season will officially get underway. Free Agenets, such as Aroldis Chapman, Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen, Dexter Fowler and many others could find out where they will be playing next season by the end of the next week.
Big-market teams, like the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs, who were hesitant to make deals until a new collective bargaining agreement was in place, will likely now start their offseason spending to improve their clubs. Baseball will return to business as usual, which means there's a good chance that there will be a lot of action and big-name free agent signings at next week's Winter Meetings.