Monday, October 4, 2010

Changes in Free Agency, Tender/Non-tender, and Arbitration Deadlines

Last Thursday, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association reached an agreement to alter some of the deadlines regarding free agency, tender/non-tender, and arbitration for upcoming negotiations in 2010 and 2011. The agreement grew out of concerns raised by the Players Association about the 2008 and 2009 off-season negotiation periods. Barry Bloom reported on the changes in an article posted on MLB.com, and the Players Association distributed a press release.

Here are some of the changes as gleaned from those two sources:

1. Currently teams have a 15-day period after the end of the World Series to negotiate exclusively with their current players who are eligible for free agency. That period of exclusivity has been reduced to five days.

2. Contracts must now be offered by December 2. The deadline is now before the Winter Meetings instead of the older deadline that feel after the Winter Meetings.

3. Arbitration must now be offered to free agents by November 23 at midnight. This allows a team to maintain its rights to compensation if a player declines by the new November 30 deadline. If a player accepts arbitration, their salary is decided either by salary arbitration or continued negotiations with just that one team. For instance, last year the Twins offered arbitration to Carl Pavano, and he accepted. Pavano has been a key member of the Twins’ rotation this year.

4. Players who are eligible for free agency because they have six years of credited service no longer need to apply within a 15-day window. Instead, they will become free agents automatically at the conclusion of the World Series.

The agreement resolves a number of problems that were slated for the grievance and arbitration process that is part of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. It also seems to signal a positive approach between the two sides prior to the December 11, 2011, expiration of the current CBA.