Unlike their NBA brethren, the MLB and MLBPA are on the precipice of a new labor deal that will last for the next 20 years, according to ESPN.com, that will ensure continuous labor peace for the first time since the Major League Baseball Players Association formed in the late 1960s.
Sources that spoke to the website have described that negotiators are within striking distance, on the verge of an agreement and in position to reach an agreement in short order that could even be done by the end of the week.
Negotiations are on temporary hold until the conclusion of MLB's quarterly owners meetings on Thursday, but sources said it's possible that negotiations could resume as soon as Thursday evening and could reach a quick conclusion shortly thereafter. Both sides still need to sign off on the details that negotiators have agreed to and the particulars of several issues must still be negotiated.
Among the newest of the changes, the deal will call for realignment into two 15-team leagues, adding a second wild-card team in each league, spreading interleague play throughout all six months of the regular season and making significant changes to the draft, free agency and the so-called Competitive Balance Tax.
The biggest issues being hashed out among the issues still left to negotiate have been the curbing of spending on the amateur draft and a revamped draft-pick compensation system for teams that lose top free agents. While some reports say compensation picks could be eliminated entirely because veteran free agents have been hurt by it, some clubs, according to ESPN.com, are now saying they've been told to expect that in the future, teams will only have to give up a first-round draft choice if they sign one of a reduced pool of elite free agents.
Under the current system, teams are required to give up a top pick (with the exception of picks in the top half of the first round) in return for signing all Type A free agents, which are free agents ranked by the Elias Sports Bureau in the top 20 percent of players at his position. The Type A free agent's former team can only earn the compensatory pick as long as it offers the newly-signed free agent arbitration or the newly-signed free agent signs with his new team before the arbitration deadline.
Under the new agreement, the formula for classifying players would change to limit compensation only to a select few stars-i.e., CC Sabathia, but not Grant Balfour, as ESPN.com's Jayson Stark puts it.
Sources said that some changes in the new agreement would take effect immediately, while others will have to wait until 2012. ESPN.com reported that the league and the players association had hoped to have a deal in place by the end of the World Series so that the new rules could apply to the current offseason. But now that the offseason has been well under way, certain agreement aspects will have to be phased in.