Bill Baer

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros looks on during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The All-Star Game will no longer determine home-field advantage in the World Series

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The Associated Press reported early Thursday morning that, as a part of the new collective bargaining agreement, home-field advantage in the World Series will no longer be determined by the All-Star Game. Home-field advantage will now be awarded to the pennant winner with the better regular season record.

After the 2002 All-Star Game ended in a 7-7 tie, Major League Baseball and the players’ union agreed to allow the “midsummer classic” to decide home-field advantage for the 2003 and ’04 seasons. That agreement was extended to ’05 and ’06 and then was made permanent.

Critics have rightfully said that the All-Star Game is a rather capricious way to determine home-field advantage, which can sometimes be a big factor in the outcome of the season’s final series. Compared to regular season and playoff games, players are oddly used as position players tend to stay in for about three innings and pitchers only get an inning or two on the mound. Players don’t tend to take the game as seriously as they would a regular season or playoff game.

Since adopting the home-field advantage rule, the All-Star Game has also unnecessarily subjected players to ignominy. Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, for instance, committed three errors in a 4-3, 15-inning loss to the American League in the 2008 All-Star Game. Thankfully for the Phillies, they were able to win the 2008 World Series despite not having home-field advantage, but there was the possibility that their path to a championship would have in some part been affected by Uggla’s poor performance in what was otherwise an exhibition game.

The American League has benefited much more than the National League from the rule, receiving home-field advantage as a result of winning 11 of the last 14 All-Star Games. The home team has won 56 percent of the 75 World Series games played since 2003. That being said, the AL has won six of the last 14 World Series overall.

Report: Owners, union agree on new collective bargaining agreement

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Update #6 (2:53 AM EST): The new CBA has also reduced the minimum number of days for a player to be placed on the disabled list from 15 to 10 days.

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Update #5 (10:47 PM EST): New major league players will be banned from using smokeless tobacco under the new CBA, per Sherman. Current major leaguers are grandfathered in.

Rosenthal reports that, starting in 2018, the regular season schedule will begin in the middle of the week which will allow for extra off-days throughout the rest of the schedule.

The Athletics will be phased out as a revenue-sharing recipient over the next four years, also per Rosenthal.

A player can now only be given a qualifying offer once in his career. Yeah, Rosenthal.

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Update #4 (10:32 PM EST): MLB.com has officially announced the news.

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Update #3 (9:37 PM EST): ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that there will still be draft pick compensation. Teams that exceed the luxury tax threshold will lose a second- and fifth-round draft pick. Teams under the threshold will lose a third-round pick.

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Update #2 (9:06 PM EST): Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that while there will be no international draft, international signings will be capped at around $5-6 million per team per year.

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Update (8:55 PM EST): Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that the new CBA will have a luxury tax threshold starting at $195 million and rise to $210-215 million over the span of the five-year deal. Sherman also hears that the new CBA will have a 60-70 percent penalty for those who go far beyond the threshold, aimed at those with payrolls around $250 million or greater.

Sherman adds that there will be no 26th roster spot as previously speculated. The current 25-man roster with expanded rosters in September will remain.

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With a few hours left before the midnight deadline, the owners and the players’ union have agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The other two possibilities were a lockout and an extension to continue negotiations. Thankfully, this didn’t have to drag on any longer than was necessary.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the new CBA will span the next five years (2017-21).

More details about the CBA should be coming shortly. We’ll provide updates here when they’re revealed. We do know that the owners reportedly conceded on instituting an international draft. The qualifying offer system was reportedly on the chopping block as well. The owners were also concerned with the luxury tax threshold.

Now that the CBA has been finalized, expect hot stove action to ramp up considerably. Many teams were waiting to see how the new rules would affect their spending.

Astros avoid arbitration with Nori Aoki

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Norichika Aoki #8 of the Seattle Mariners is pictured in the dugout before a game against the Houston Astros at Safeco Field on September 17, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Astros won the game 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Astros have avoided arbitration with outfielder Nori Aoki, agreeing to a one-year contract worth $5.5 million, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports. Aoki was entering his third of four years of arbitration eligibility.

Aoki was claimed by the Astros off waivers from the Mariners earlier this month. He finished the 2016 season batting .283/.349/.388 with 32 extra-base hits and 63 runs scored in 467 plate appearances.

There had been some thought that the Astros might non-tender Aoki after signing Josh Reddick, but at the very least, he’ll provide the club some outfield depth.