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MLB, players reach labor deal

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Early defining factor of new CBA is hard international cap, which should please the White Sox

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Chicago White Sox
Nobody’s locked out.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Major League Baseball offseason can commence as scheduled. A marathon session resulted in owners and players agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement four hours before Thursday’s midnight deadline. The winter meetings are on, and so is whatever the White Sox are planning to do with their future.

Details are still trickling in, so we can’t write/discuss with anything resembling comprehensive knowledge, but the two most-discussed areas -- a 26th man and an international draft — didn’t come to pass. Yet there were other shifts significant enough to warrant the extended negotiations.

At first glance, the players made gains in quality-of-life territory. The combination of more off days and shorter DL stints should reduce scheduling quirks (and Hawk Harrelson complaints) and the injuries that aren’t helped by them. Also, the qualifying offer isn’t nearly as punitive for players, nor for the teams looking to improve. They also warded off an international draft, although at a cost.

The owners -- at least the small-market and small-market-minded owners -- benefit more financially. First, they gained a hard international cap, which is almost better than an international draft (except players have some say in where they end up). The number being thrown around is $5 million, which should spur handshakes and high-fives around the White Sox front office, since they’ve never wanted to play the open-market game. The luxury tax will remain where it has been with small increases, and heftier punishments for exceeding should rein in the big spenders more.

The details are still incomplete/unreleased, but here’s what has come out:

*Qualying offers still exist, but in a different form. Ken Rosenthal tweeted some details: A player can’t receive it more than once, a team will gain a draft pick only if the size of the contract exceeds $50 million, and the pick will depend on the team’s market size. A team signing a qualifying-offer free agent will lose a third-round pick. A team signing a qualifying-offer free agent could lose second- and fifth-round picks and $1 million of international money if it exceeds the luxury-tax threshold in doing so.

*The All-Star Game no longer counts: Home-field advantage in the World Series will be awarded to the pennant winner with the better regular-season record, not the winner of the Midsummer Classic.

*The MLB season will last 187 days instead of 183 to afford teams four more scheduled off days. Starting in 2018, Opening Day will take place mid-week to accommodate the extra days.

*The minimum stay on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

*The minimum salary will rise from $507,500 to $535,000 for 2017, $545,000 in 2018, and $555,000 in 2019, with cost-of-living increases the following two years.

*Along with increased testing (which will include HGH), players will not accrue service time during suspensions.

There are other areas — trading draft picks? pace of play? tanking? — which could be covered by a new CBA, but for which details are not known, if they are to exist. If this is everything, it’s already a lot to mull over, and it’ll serve as fine post fodder once the particulars firm up.