Major League Baseball and its Players Association today announced that the two sides have come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. There are plenty of jokes to be made at the expense of both the billionaires who own the teams and the millionaires who play the game, but what it all boils down to is something that Getting Blanked contributor The Common Man wrote in his own review of part of the agreement:

More baseball is inherently better than less baseball.

This is the truth. And given the amount of strife that followed the NFL players and their teams’ owners, not to mention the ongoing dispute between the NBA players and their teams’ owners, it’s refreshing to see a group of people earning more money than most of us can dream possible not go to great lengths to nickel and dime each other into a work stoppage.

Nonetheless, the times, they are a-changing in Major League Baseball. Here are some of the details that have come about from the newest agreement. The list will be updated as the press conference progresses.

The Good

  • The Houston Astros will join the American League in 2013, realigning MLB into two 15 team leagues.
  • Two wild card teams will be added, possibly ahead of the 2012 season (TBD by March 1st, 2012).
  • The remaining Type A free agent relievers and Michael Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson and Josh Willingham will not cost signing teams a draft pick. The teams that those relievers played for last season will still receive compensatory draft picks.
  • Starting in the 2012 off season, teams will have to make a qualifying offer of a one year guaranteed contract to players eligible to become free agents in order to receive compensation if the player signs with another club. That amount will be the average salary of the 125-highest paid players from the prior season. Teams that sign players who have been offered these lucrative one year guaranteed contracts will surrender their first round draft choice, unless the team has a top ten picks. In this case, the team will give up their second highest pick instead.
  • Draft signing deadline moves from August 15 to between July 12 and 18. That’s a very fast turn around. This may seem fast, but remember that most of the top picks sign before the deadline but aren’t announced so as not to drive up the cost of other picks.
  • The minimum salary will increase from $414,000 this year to $480,000K in 2012 and $500,000 in later years.
  • Instant replay will be expanded to include fair/foul plays and plays in which the ball has possibly been trapped by the fielder between his glove and the field. However, this will remain subject to discussions between MLB and the umpires.
  • Sexual orientation will be added to the discrimination clause.
  • MLB players, managers and coaches are now prohibited from using smokeless tobacco during televised interviews and club appearances.
  • By 2013, all Major League Baseball players will wear a new batting helmet designed to protect against pitches thrown at 100 miles per hour.

The Bad

  • There will be limits on total spending for signing bonuses given out to draft picks. Teams that go over slot up to 5% on the draft will face a 75% tax. Teams that go over slot by 5-10% face a 75% tax and the loss of a first rounder. Teams that go over slot by 10-15% face a 100% tax and the loss of a first and second rounder. Teams that exceed slot by 15% or more face a 100% tax and the loss of two first rounders. Teams that don’t exceed their draft spending limit will have a chance to obtain picks from teams that over-spent.
  • There will also be limits on total spending for international free agent spending. Starting in 2013-14, teams will be given a spending allowance for international signings. The organizations will be able to trade money from this spending allowance. However, teams can only raise their spending limit by 50% through such trades. Every team will have $2.9MM to spend on international bonuses this off season. Eventually the limits will be in the range of $1.8 million to $5 million. The future is open for an international draft.
  • No MLB contracts can be handed out to either drafted players or international free agent signings.
  • Cubans under 23 years old with less than three years of professional experience will be considered amateurs and count against international spending limits.
  • The international signing limits will not affect the posting system for players from Asia.
  • There will now be six draft picks immediately after the first round given out via lottery to teams with 10 lowest revenues, 10 smallest markets. For the teams that don’t get one of those six picks, they will be entered in another lottery open for all teams with six picks after second round. Accounting departments just became the new market inefficiency.
  • Instead of eliminating it completely, the Super Two cutoff will increase from the top 17% of players with 2-3 years service time to the top 22%.

The Ugly

  • Blood testing for human growth hormone will commence, but not this season without reasonable suspicion. Offseason testing will begin next winter. Apparently, neither MLB nor the MLBPA read J.C. Bradbury. It’s even more of a shame that this will end up being what most media outlets grab hold of as the top story.
  • MLB rosters will expand to 26 for some doubleheaders. Weak sauce. If players used HGH, this wouldn’t be necessary. Settle down, I’m joking.
  • Participation in the All-Star Game is mandatory unless the player is unable to play due to injury. Do we really need rules for this? If so, it’s kind of a comment on the relevance of the All-Star Game.

Takeaways

Comments (41)

  1. The draft rules are supposed to help small market teams, how? And why is it that the MLBPA can negotiate the rights of non-members (i.e. amateurs)? It would be impossible to implement, but draft eligible players need their own union.

  2. I’m confused, will the Jays still get comp round pics for Type B relievers and players?

    • Good question, although a better question is, “Did we suffer through a whole season of Jon Rauch for nothing?!?”

      mlb.com simply says that Type-B compensation will be eliminated, but it doesn’t say when – will this also start at the beginning of the 2012 offseason, or does it come into effect immediately?

  3. Purely a question, since I don’t really know any better. Does HGH help the body recover from injuries faster, therefore an unfair advantage?

    • You’re right. HGH has not proven to enchance performace. HGH has been proven to decease injury recovery time, and reduce wear and tear on muscles.

  4. “There will now be six draft picks immediately after the first round given out via lottery to teams with 10 lowest revenues, 10 smallest markets. For the teams that don’t get one of those six picks, they will be entered in another lottery open for all teams with six picks after second round.”

    Huh? So now, you’ll get even more draft picks, but have a handful of quarters to offer them contracts with?

  5. If the new draft rules are attempts at parity, they weren’t very well thought out. It’s only going to give the richer teams like New York and Boston a greater advantage and prevents teams like Tampa from competing with them.

  6. And is there some reason they can’t decide on the extra wild card right now, rather than a month before the fucking season?

    • I agree. Shouldn’t teams know ASAP if there is a wildcard for 2012 so they can plan signings?

  7. All these changes after I have spent years trying to explain to my hockey loving friends how the baseball draft works. Now I got to start all over again :(

  8. So, in order to get compensation the Jays have to offer a minimum of 12.4 million in order to get a draft pick? That doesn’t make sense.

    Overall, this could force AA to rely on trades & signing free agents in order to build the team.

    The increase in minimum mlb pay is quite high. I hope Lawrie & JPA doesn’t spend it on tattoos:))

    • Not $12.4 million, the average salary of the 125-highest paid players from the prior season.

      With compensation changes, there is gonna be a whole lot more trades.

      • … and the player will have had to have been with the team the entire season.

        Teams also still lose their pick (top 10 protected) if they sign a FA subject to compensation.

        Crazy… AA’s head must be spinning. Hopefully we’ll see how good a GM he is now.

      • More trades for sure, but the value of soon-to-be FAs just nosedived relative to the value of minor league prospects.

      • Thanks Dustin.! Using an average of the top 125 salaries will still be a high amount.

        I wonder if AA’s strategy of getting players on the verge of free agency will still be valid.

        You won’t be able to get the picks if they leave for another team.

  9. Regarding the Draft Cap, is there anything stopping a team from signing a player to slot (or below), and working a minor league contract for (x) years at an inflated rate in order to ‘make up’ for a lower signing bonus?

  10. “There will now be six draft picks immediately after the first round given out via lottery to teams with 10 lowest revenues, 10 smallest markets. For the teams that don’t get one of those six picks, they will be entered in another lottery open for all teams with six picks after second round.”

    I’m assuming the Jays aren’t in this conversation, but I would be interested to know who these teams were last season and who they would likely be in the upcoming season? Anyone have any ideas?

  11. Yeah that makes sense, I was thinking more along the lines of market size. Any idea how they are going to use the two together? Seems kind of strange since TOR is 7th lowest in revenue but technically is one of the bigger ‘markets’ if your going strictly by population size.

  12. Does anyone else get the feeling that all of these new rules on draft picks, international free agents, and Type-A and Type B compensation is all directed as a response to keep AA from lapping the field?

  13. This deal is very good for teams that build their teams through free agency and terrible for those that build their teams through the draft and international free agency.

    It makes existing prospects much more valuable due to the decreased ability to stock farm systems by the Anthopolous/Friedman way (acquire type-A/Bs and let them walk). Teams with robust minor league systems, like Toronto, are in a great spot in the short term because it should require fewer minor league assets to complete a trade for major talent than it would have under the old regime. Conversely, it may lead to teams that operate with a more limited budget (also like Toronto) to horde their existing minor league talent because of their reduced ability to restock the farm.

  14. Anyone else wonder if Tyler Beede will get 3 million when he gets out of school now?

  15. I just have to say all the photos you guys find of Bud Selig are pure gold. Next time you do an article on him it has to be him picking his nose, or getting caught looking down a woman’s shirt.

  16. Dustin,

    Did you actually bother reading that link you posted on HGH, or did you just look at the introduction and conclusion and then surmised that the article must be right because the author agreed with your preconceived views?

    If I sent you a baseball article with that quality of evidence you would quite rightly add it to your ‘Book of Moron’ series (or whatever the Getting Blanked equivalent is).

    The author starts off by telling you that he had a conversation with a colleague who works in exercise physiology. I see no mention of his qualifications. The colleague points him towards the two articles which are quoted in the article.

    The first study involves patients between the ages of 65 and 88. This tells us nothing about the effect of HGH on athletes.

    The second quotation comes from a textbook which reads like it has been written by a 5th grader:
    “Apparently, few athletes are actually using this hormone, which suggests that they may well be aware that the substance probably does little to enhance performance, carries risks, and is very expensive.”

    I don’t understand why you apply much higher standards in your baseball posts than you do on your PED posts. Perhaps it has something to do with page views?

  17. So if a team signs a kid from the draft over slot and loses their number one, there still is the possibility of getting that pick back in the lottery depending on market status. While obviously not ideal, at least the risk of losing a pick isn’t as great as first read. Makes scouting departments all the more important now.

  18. Call me crazy, but what’s to stop Anthopolous from doing exactly the same things that he’s doing now (minus getting A/B compensation)? If I were him I would keep drafting the same high upside talent and watch as other clubs draft guys based on signability. He could continue to sign guys way over slot and while he would lose the picks next year he would be able to still say “Well, I still got 10 of the top 100 guys in the draft this year” and stick the proverbial middle finger at this CBA.

    • Shh. I’m actually working on a post that’s in favour of embracing the new penalties. Good thinking.

      • It would also be great PR for the Jays RE: amateurs – A high school kid can say “I’m not going to sign unless I get X dollars, I’ll go to college otherwise” and the Jays can offer evidence that if we draft you in the 5th round, we still think you’re a 1st round talent, and you’ll get that money. That would make the Jays an attractive place for guys with ‘signability issues’ to go.

      • The only forseeable problem I see with this would be GMs taking guys with no intent of signing them just to keep AA from drafting them in the later rounds. But that becomes a PR nightmare to draft a guy in round 3 that you later admit you had no intention of signing, so it may not be a likely outcome.

    • If you do the math, it’s not bad at all. Even spending $20M a year only slaps you with a $15M penalty (let’s call it 75% of a Vernon Wells), but gives you years of controllable and relatively cheap talent. Rather than discourage draft overpaying, I see this as a license to go nuts, since you are paying a “penalty”. So you could draft every unsignable player in the later rounds (they are not going anywhere) and just give up on your first- and second-round picks every year. Your only competition will be from teams who would also have to overpay and sacrifice picks, so they would have no draft position advantage.

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