MLB’s collective bargaining agreement expires December 1, and both MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA head Tony Clark have expressed optimism that two parties can avoid a work stoppage. While Manfred had previously said he hoped to have a new deal in place by the end of the postseason, though, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that he hears there is still work to be done, even on the day of what could be the clinching game of the World Series.
It is possible, Sherman writes, that rules from the previous CBA could be “rolled over for at least this offseason.” A rollover of the current rules could potentially keep this winter’s free agent market from stalling by allowing free agents to negotiate with teams without either party worrying about how a new agreement might affect them.
Sherman notes that the two sides have batted around a number of possible changes to the qualifying offer system. One possibility is that MLB could agree to stop taking draft picks from teams that sign free agents who have rejected qualifying offers. (As we’ve seen in the cases of Kyle Lohse, Stephen Drew, Ian Desmond and others in recent years, these draft pick losses reduce free agents’ value, which is why the MLBPA would want to change the current rules.)
Sherman writes that, under the changes being considered, teams losing good free agents would still receive compensation. It remains to be seen what form that compensation would take, although it’s worth noting that, under the previous system, a team that offered a Type B free agent arbitration before his departure received a draft pick, without the signing team having to give up anything. Perhaps MLB and the MLBPA will consider reinstituting a similar system for a certain class of free agents.