Details of MLB labor deal emerge

NEW YORK — Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and union head Michael Weiner smiled and exchanged handshakes while others in the room dug into knishes and pigs in a blanket.

Not exactly the kind of scene that played out in sports labor talks this year.

Baseball ensured itself of 21 consecutive years of peace at a time the NBA season might be canceled because of a lockout and the NFL still is recovering from its CBA negotiations.

The agreement makes MLB the first pro major league in North America to conduct blood tests for human growth hormone, allowing it during spring training and future offseasons but for now only studying whether it will be implemented during the regular season.

The deal, which must be ratified by both sides and drafted into a formal contract, expands the playoffs from eight to 10 teams by 2013, lessens draft-pick compensation for free agents, expands salary arbitration by a few players and for the first time allows teams to trade some draft selections.

It also adds unprecedented restraints on signing bonuses for amateur players coming to the major leagues from high school, college and overseas, perhaps hurting MLB as it competes with the NFL and NBA for multisport talent.

Following eight work stoppages from 1972-95, baseball reached its third consecutive agreement without an interruption of play. The agreement was signed three weeks before the current deal was to expire Dec. 11, the second straight time the sides reached a deal early.

Baseball seems to have learned the lessons of the 1994-95 strike, which wiped out the World Series for the first time in nine decades.

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