AP Exclusive: HR Derby could decide All-Star Game winner

FILE - National League's Pete Alonso, center, of the New York Mets, hits during the second round of the MLB All Star baseball Home Run Derby, July 12, 2021, in Denver. A new baseball rule says that if the All-Star Game is tied after nine innings, a Home Run Derby will decide the winner. (AP Photo/Gabriel Christus, File) (Gabriel Christus, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

NEW YORK – If the next All-Star Game in Major League Baseball goes deep into the night, a slugger may get a chance to decide it by going deep — in a Home Run Derby.

That's right, say going, going, goodbye to extra innings in the Midsummer Classic. Instead, bring on Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr., Bryce Harper and the big boppers for a winner-take-all blast-off.

Because buried deep in the 182-page memorandum of understanding signed Thursday by MLB and the players' association is a radical new method of potentially deciding the All-Star Game.

“If the All-Star Game remains tied after nine innings, the game will be decided by a Home Run Derby between the teams, subject to the parties' agreement on details and format,” reads exhibit 13, titled “Tentative Agreement — All-Star Game and Home Run Derby.”

And hear this, fans: As part of the overall agreement, “the parties agree to discuss further details and logistics of a potential mid-All-Star Game concert.”

Plus, a new flavor to MLB's international mix — there will be a regular-season game in Paris in 2025.

Dated March 1 and obtained by The Associated Press, the page about the All-Star home derby was signed by MLB senior counsel Kasey Sanossian and players' association deputy general counsel Matt Nussbaum. It is part of the agreement that led to the end of MLB's 99-day lockout and the opening of training camps.

This year's All-Star Game is scheduled for Dodger Stadium on July 19, awarded to Los Angeles after the scheduled 2020 was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The All-Star Game has gone to extra innings 13 times since it began in 1933, the last two times 10 innings in both 2017 at Miami and 2018 at Washington. Teams running short on pitchers has become an issue as managers try to get most pitchers in the game by the ninth inning.

The annual Home Run Derby on the night before the All-Star Game has become one of MLB's popular events and is not mentioned in the document as changing.

The commissioner gained the ability to add a 33rd player to each league’s All-Star roster “in recognition of each player’s career achievements” and could add more than one player “if special circumstances warrant.”

In other sections of the agreement:

The sides agreed to have regular-season games at Mexico City each May from 2023-26, at London in June 2023, 2024 and 2026, at Paris in June 2025 and at San Juan, Puerto Rico, in September 2025 and 2026. A season-opening series is planned for Asia in 2024 and Tokyo specifically in 2025.

Spring training games are envisioned for Puerto Rico and/or the Dominican Republic in 2024, and World Baseball Classics in 2023 and 2026. Postseason tours are planned for South Korea and Taiwan this year and for Latin America in 2023.

Players would receive $70,000 each for regular-season events in Europe and Asia, and $20,000 for Latin America.

MLB gained union permission to set the trade deadline from July 28 through Aug. 3, as long as it notifies the union by the preceding Dec. 1.

The agreement increases this year’s amateur draft signing bonuses to $300 million, including an $8,842,200 slot value for the top pick

Players and teams made permanent the COVID-19 rules change calling for regular-season games of less than five innings stopped by rain to be suspended and continued.

MLB and players also agreed to a revised “Workplace Code of Conduct” that states: “If you see an individual harassing or discriminating against someone, tell that person to stop and report it to your field manager, your general manager, the commissioner’s office or players’ association.”

Harassment is defined as “any verbal, physical or visual behavior directed at another individual because of a protected characteristic tahat (i) has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading humiliating or offensive environment or (ii) materially interferes with an individual’s work performance.”

A section prohibiting production, distribution, receipt or possession of child pornography was added to the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.

Teams must be scheduled for seven off days after July 31, including three after Aug. 31.

Footwear restrictions were loosened, provided they comply with permitted commercial marks and are not offensive.

The annual winter meeting draft of unprotected players, not held due to the lockout, is considered canceled.

The retention bonus for players signing minor league contracts is eliminated and replaced with three uniform opt-out dates: five days before opening day, May 1 and June 1.

If a team claims a player on ouright waivers, that team would be moved to 30th in priority if claiming the player again in that year. In addition, the league component was dropped for teams tied in winning percentage.

Starting next offseason, an arbitration-eligible player who agrees without a hearing is eligible for full-season termination pay.

Oakland once again was given special status under the revenue-sharing plan, phased out at 25% per year as part of a provision that would be revoked for the 2024 revenue sharing year if the Athletics don't reach a binding agreement for a new ballpark by Jan. 15, 2024.


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