Key points of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, details of which were announced on Tuesday:
The five-year deal is equal to the longest in history, allowing play to continue uninterrupted through the 2016 season.
Postseason play will expand to include a second Wild Card club in each league beginning no later than the 2013 season. The two Wild Card teams in each league will play a one-game playoff for the right to advance to the Division Series.
The Astros will move to the American League West in 2013, giving both leagues 15 teams and resulting in expanded Interleague Play. Interleague games will be scheduled all season long, as opposed to during specific periods.
Teams will be allowed to expand their rosters to 26 players for designated regular or split doubleheaders.
The current compensation system for losing "Type A" and "Type B" free agents will be eliminated. Under the new system, teams will receive compensation for losing a free agent only if they offer -- and the player rejects -- a guaranteed one-year contract equal to the average salary of the league's 125 highest-paid players. Compensation for losing such players will consist of one Draft pick at the end of the first round.
When clubs sign a compensation-eligible player, they will forfeit their own first-round selection, or their second-round selection if they pick in the top 10.
More "Super Two" players than ever (22 percent) will be eligible for salary arbitration, allowing them to reach free agency quicker.
The minimum Major League salary will increase steadily from $414,000 in 2011 to $500,000 in 2014. The minimum Minor League salary will increase from $67,300 in 2011 to $81,500 in 2014.
Teams may only sign Draft picks to Minor League contracts and will be taxed and/or penalized for exceeding the designated signing bonuses (previously called slot recommendations) for the sum of their picks in the first 10 rounds.
Teams will also be taxed for exceeding signing-bonus pools for international free agents. The pools will be based upon winning percentages from the previous season, allowing the league's worst teams to spend the most money in the international arena.
Small-market and low-revenue teams will have the ability to obtain additional supplemental-round Draft picks through an annual competitive balance lottery.
The current $178 million thresholds for the "luxury tax" on payrolls will remain unchanged in 2012 and 2013 but will increase to $189 million for 2014, 2015, and 2016. The tax rate will decrease to 17.5 percent for teams that exceed the threshold for the first time, and increase to 50 percent for clubs that exceed it for the fourth time or more. Rates will remain the same for clubs that exceed the threshold for the second time (30 percent) and third time (40 percent).
The 15 teams in the largest markets will be disqualified from receiving revenue sharing by 2016.
Beginning next spring, all players will be subject to HGH blood testing "for reasonable cause" at any time during the year. All players will be tested during Spring Training and will be subject to random, unannounced testing beginning next offseason.
Barring injury, players selected to the All-Star Game will be required to participate.
New players will not be permitted to use low-density maple bats, and by 2013, all Major Leaguers will wear a new batting helmet developed by Rawlings that protects against pitches thrown at 100 mph.