MLB Avoids Work Stoppage With Last-Minute Labor Deal

Major League Baseball and its players union tentatively reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday night, the league announced in a news release.

The new agreement would stretch for the next five years, extending baseball’s period of labor peace through the end of the 2021 season. Players and owners had until just before midnight Wednesday to reach a deal or agree to extend negotiations before the old agreement expired.

MLB owners and the MLB Players Association, under the leadership of former player and current Executive Director Tony Clark, are still working to finalize terms of the new bargaining agreement, which will be subject to a vote from players and owners once it is complete.

But that should now be a formality. According to reports, the framework of the new deal largely resembles the old one, after the most controversial and contentious issues died at the bargaining table. There won’t be, for instance, a new international draft for foreign-born prospects, as owners had wanted but players fought vehemently. Neither will the deal expand the size of regular season rosters.

Baseball’s negotiation process dragged on longer than many thought it would, given the sport’s financial health. Reports in recent weeks hinted at the possibility of a lockout if the two sides couldn’t reach a new deal.

But in the end, the two sides avoided a work stoppage for the fourth consecutive time since players launched what became a 232-day strike that stretched across the 1994 and 1995 seasons, and baseball’s unprecedented period of labor peace seems set to last for at least five more years.

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