The Players' Association and Major League Baseball have come to an agreement well before the current CBA was set to expire. Yeah, I'm expecting to see pigs flying outside my window any time now.
Seriously, the sport is in financially good shape. Attendance is up, overall revenues are up thanks to mlb.com and other sources, so there wasn't too much to fight about this time around. Contraction was deep-sixed, salary caps were probably verboten in negotiations, and both sides gave a little without making wholesale changes.
Some salient points from the new CBA:
The Luxury Tax threshold will continue to go higher, and will reach $178M in 2011, the last year of the CBA. The Yankees will probably be the only organization affected. This is good for the players, as no other organization will have that threshold to weigh against spending on player acquisitions.
Compensation for lost free agents will change. A team will only lose a draft pick if they sign a Type A free agent; Type B free agents only bring sandwich pick, and Type C free agents bring nothing at all. In addition, the standards have been raised; a player must now be in the top 20% of their position in order to merit a Type A ranking. This might increase the likelihood that a team out of a race will deal a pending free agent. It also gets rid of some the gridlock that the previous compensation system brought to the offseason, especially in cases of middling free agents. Basically now a team will only be penalized for signing an All-Star level talent.
Teams that don't sign first- and second-round picks will receive "the same pick in the subsequent draft as compensation." Also, teams have until August 15th to sign draft picks. This gives the teams an awful lot of leverage against their picks, in that they'll have little to lose if they don't sign (other than, of course, waiting another year). Unfortunately, this may give some clubs incentive to draft someone they have absolutely no intention of signing just to get out of paying a signing bonus. The August 15th deadline also effectively eliminates draft-and-follows, which the four-year colleges will appreciate, but certainly not the junior colleges.
Rule 5 Draft eligibility has been modified: now college players have be with an organization four years before becoming eligible, and high school players have five years before attaining eligibility. This means that the Indians won't have to roster Adam Miller or Tony Sipp this winter, so they'll have more roster spots to work with. This is good news for organizations with deep minor-league systems.
The free agent deadlines have been eliminated, which further reduces the offseason gridlock. The non-tender date has been moved up to December 12th.