The cleat-to-loafer standoff is over between rich baseball players and mega-rich owners, with MLB players set to report Sunday to Spring Training camps and begin exhibition games one week from today.
The MLB Players Association voted 26-12 to ratify the owners’ latest proposal, ESPN reported, which includes increased minimum salaries and an increased threshold for the MLB competitive balance tax, used since the mid 1990s to curb expenses on player salaries.
For the 2021 season the tax threshold was $210 million, and the two sides remained reportedly $25 million to $30 million apart as recently as last week. The exact figure in the latest proposal is not immediately known.
The new, five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement will reportedly retain a revised 162-game schedule and also bring significant changes to gameplay and the postseason. National League fans can expect to see the designated hitter this season, and an immediate, 45-day window for rule changes could see pitch clocks and larger bases announced in time for the 2022 campaign.
A finalized labor deal will mean teams can finally complete their rosters with off-season signings. With Buster Posey in retirement-land, any future Kris Bryant has with San Francisco should become clear pretty quickly. The notoriously thrifty A’s, meanwhile, might look to resign veterans Jed Lowrie and Yusmeiro Petit.
Giants and A’s fans who simply can’t miss a minute of Spring Training can book a Sunday morning flight to Phoenix for less than $400. The rest of us can toss a ball around until April 7, when the MLB regular season is expected to begin.
Jesse Garnier is the editor and founder of SFBay. A Mission District native, he also teaches journalism as associate professor at San Francisco State University.