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Report: Owners, union agree on new collective bargaining agreement

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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.

Scott Boras: Astros players don’t need to apologize

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Ken Rosenthal spoke to Scott Boras about the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Boras’ take: the Astros need not apologize for what they did. They were mere babes in the woods who were ignorant of everything. I wish I was making this up. Scotty Baby:

“I’m doing what my organization is telling me to do,” Boras said on Wednesday, describing the hypothetical mindset of a player. “You installed this. You put this in front of us. Coaches and managers encourage you to use the information. It is not coming from the player individually. It is coming from the team. In my stadium. Installed. With authority.”

The analogy Boras used was the speed limit.

A man driving 55 mph in a 35-mph zone only believes he is speeding if the limit is clearly posted. Likewise, Boras said Astros’ players who committed infractions only should apologize if they were properly informed of their boundaries.

It’s worth noting two things at this juncture: (1) Scott Boras represents José Altuve and Lance McCullers; and (2) He’s 100% full of crap here. Indeed, the contortions Astros players and their surrogates are putting themselves through to avoid accountability is embarrassing.

The players knew what they were doing.  Please do not insult me by saying they didn’t. Boras is doing what he thinks he needs to do to protect his guys. I get it, that’s his job. His client Altuve in particular stepped on it last weekend when he and other Astros players tried to play the “we’re going to overcome this adversity/no one believed in us” card which played terribly, and the super agent is trying to clean up the mess as best he can. Hat tip to him for his hustle, which he has never not shown. Guy’s a pro.

But he can only do so much because this all remains on the Astros’ players. Yes, the formal punishment is on the manager, the general manager and the club, and I agree that it had to be given all of the complications of the situation, but now that that’s over, it’s time for some honest accountability. And we’re getting zero of it.

Which is insane because the players were given immunity. They’re 100% in the clear. That they cheated has angered a lot of people, but it does not make them irredeemable. As I have noted here many times, lots of others did too. But their lack of accountability over the past couple of weeks speaks very, very poorly of them.

“We crossed a line. No question. We’re sorry. We don’t think it caused us to win anything we didn’t earn, but we see how we created that perception ourselves through our own actions. We shouldn’t have done that. Going forward we’re going to be better. Again, we’re sorry.”

That’s about all it’d take and it’d be done. It’d be pretty easy to say, if for no other reason than because that’s probably what’s gone through their minds anyway. They’re not bad people.

But they’re also observers of America in 2020 and, I suspect, everything they’ve seen, consciously or unconsciously, has counseled against them saying those very simple words or something like them.

Everything that’s going on in America right now — politics especially — tells people that the path to success is to cheat, steal and lie in order to benefit themselves and themselves only. It’s also telling them that, if they get caught, they should lie and deny too. It works. The media, for the most part, will not call anyone of status out on a lie, even if the lie is ridiculous. At most it will repeat the denial like a stenographer reading back from a transcript fearing that to do any more would be to — gasp! — reveal an opinion. “Shlabotnik says that he was cloned by Tralfamadorians and it was his clone, not him, who stole the signs.” Heaven forbid someone add the word “falsely” in there. They won’t because if they do they’re going to be accused of being “biased” or “political” or whatever.

If you see that — and we all see it — why wouldn’t you be predisposed to avoid apologizing for anything? Why wouldn’t you try to offer some canned, facially neutral talking points and hope that everyone is satisfied that you’ve spoken? Why wouldn’t you, having done that for a few weeks, begin to believe that, actually, you’re right not do say anything more. And  that, maybe, you were never in the wrong at all? That’s were we are as a country now, that’s for sure. And given that sports reflects society, it should not be at all surprising that that attitude has infected sports as well.

Astros owner Jim Crane tells Rosenthal that there could be an apology in spring training. “Quite frankly, we’ll apologize for what happened, ask forgiveness and move forward,” Crane said.

One thing I’ve learned in life is that when someone says “quite frankly,” what follows is going to be insincere most of the time. Another thing I’ve learned is that, in comments such as Crane’s, the emphasis is strongly on the “move forward” part of things. He wants an apology to put an end to a bad news cycle. When it comes, it will be P.R.-vetted and couched in the most sterile and corporate language imaginable. It will be anything but sincere.

In the meantime, the rest of the Astros don’t seem to want to offer an apology at all. Why should they? What’s making them?