The lockout is over! New agreement is here.

We are just a couple of days away from 2022 baseball season. It feels like yesterday when the majority of fans thought the entire season would be cancelled when the MLB and MLBPA did not come to an agreement by the deadline, 5 p.m. EST on March 1.

Fortunately, with every ounce of efforts from both parties, they ended up with a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that will last until 2026 as it gets renewed every 4 years. Therefore, baseball is back and the spring training has begun since March 17 — which is a month behind the reporting date — so they had missed a good chunk of a little more than a couple of weeks of warming up, but most players are seem to be in a good shape while others were struck with unexpected injuries and designated for assignments.

The opening day is April 7 instead of April 1 and the missing games will be made up throughout the season with 9th-inning double headers (no more 7-inning due to the covid-19 protocol) to fulfill the 162-game season.

So what has changed in 2022? Many and more changes to come in 2023 as well. I would like to cover some of the new changes in the CBA before the new baseball rules as it was the main culprit that put our beloved sports on the verge of cancellation just like 1994 lockout. It was also a good opportunity for me to learn about the CBA as well. If you would like to know what CBA is, please check out this post.

New Collective Bargaining Agreement 2022 – 2026

Minimum Salary Increase

One of the requests MLBPA asked was to increase the minimum salary. Here is what they agreed on until 2026. The minimum salary for 2020 was $563,500 and last year, 2021, was $570,500.

  • 2022 – $700,000
  • 2023 – $720,000
  • 2024 – $740,000
  • 2025 – $760,000
  • 2026 – $780,000

Every year will be increased by a $20,000 increment. The notable change is the $129,500 increase from last year’s minimum salary. This is a big jump as it is 5 times larger than the very first increase when the CBA was formed, which was $27,500. If you consider the cost of living in the current era, it seems like a reasonable increase.

Competitive Balance Tax Threshold

The competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold, also known as a luxury tax, is a tax that teams pay when the combined spending for that year surpasses the threshold set by the MLB. Basically, the higher the CBT is, more money teams get to spend on free agency and making its team solidify without having to pay too much taxes. However, this is not the case for certain teams who are unwilling to spend money competitively like these owners, who opposed to the CBT increase.

  • 2022 – $230 million
  • 2023 – $233 million
  • 2024 – $237 million
  • 2025 – $241 million
  • 2026 – $244 million

A good 20-million increase was accepted through the long-standing negotiation as this was one of the hardest parts to reach.

Pre-arbitration Bonus Pool and the Elimination of Qualifying Offer

If there was another way to award players other than the minimum salary increase, especially when they exceed expectations by going above and beyond, it would be a bonus pool. The idea is similar to getting a raise or bonus for being exceptionally good at your job at work, except baseball requires intensive physical and mental capacity.

  • A sum of $50 million dollars will be doled out to the top 100 players based on awards (ROY, Cy Young, MVP etc) and statistical performances, which will be determined by both MLB and MLBPA.

The 2021 NL Cy Young Winner, Corbin Burnes, would have earned about $4.2 million dollars as opposed to $608,000 (his salary) under this new system. This will fire up more players as receiving awards can exponentially increase their pay from now on.

  • Qualifying offers will be eliminated by July 25, 2022, the date for the international draft

The qualifying offer now has become the past of thing. The system designed for teams to receive a compensatory draft pick when their players — who are offered the one-year qualifying offer — sign elsewhere. Who gets the qualifying offers? Those who have never got a qualifying offer previously in their career and must have played for the entire season in the roster.

The majority of players usually decline the qualifying offer to test themselves out in order to get a multi-year deal from teams that seek a long-term contract. However, this is not always the case. Players who did not perform up to its expectation tend to accept the offer to get a better result in their next free agency. Also, veteran players who are on the verge of retirement, but want to play a couple of seasons more, tend to accept the offer. Only one out of 14 players in 2021 accepted the qualifying offer.

They have 10 days to accept or decline the offer. If they accept the offer, they will be in the same team for another year. If they decline the offer and sign with another team, the team gets the compensatory draft pick. In addition, if the deal their players signed is at least $50 million, they get to pick between the first round and competitive balance round A (picks for small market teams). If it is less than $50 million, they will pick after competitive balance round B, which happens after the second round. Teams that sign those players — who decline the qualifying offers — lose their second and third round picks depends on how many of those they end up signing.

However, there is an exception when you include the revenue sharing and the CBT threshold factors. For example, despite Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray — who declined the qualifying offer — signings exceed $50 million, the Blue Jays get the compensation picks after the second round due to them not receiving the revenue sharing and not surpassing the CBT threshold.

The 2022 draft order, which will be the last one that will be affected by the qualifying offer system, can be seen here.

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