The New York Mets remain in financial trouble. They are not, however, giving up hope forever. They are still the Mets and they still play in or around New York. They will have money, one day.
Right now, the Mets are short on three things: cash, viable Major League outfielders, and hope for the future. The Mets would like to acquire some outfield help, something which is sure to come at the expense of at least one, and possibly both, of their other areas of need.
Michael Bourn is an outfielder. He would surely love to come and play for the New York Mets under promise of considerable sums of money. Because of a quirk in the most recent CBA, if the Mets make a move for Bourn, it will cost them both money and draft-pick shaped hope.
When the league and the union agreed to tweak the draft pick compensation system, adding a provision for teams unable to sign their first round picks. If a team fails to sign their first round pick, they receive the identical pick in the following year’s draft.
Because the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Mark Appel from Stanford with the eighth overall pick in the June amateur draft but could not sign the big hurler, they automatically receive the 8th pick in the 2013 draft. Shoving this pick into the top ten then pushed the Mets, who finished with the tenth worst record in baseball, outside the top ten of the upcoming Rule 4 draft.
This is significant, as only the top ten picks in the draft are protected when signing players who were offered qualifying offers by their previous team. The Braves offered Michael Bourn a qualifying offer but he turned it down, meaning any team outside the top ten sacrifices their first round pick.
The Mets, of course, do not want to lose the 11th overall pick in the upcoming draft if they can avoid it. Which is whey they are doing something about it, lawyerly.
Jack Moore of Eye on Baseball ran down on the details yesterday, noting the Union supports the Mets attempt to run and end-around on the CBA and keep their first round pick even though it is just outside the top ten.
The Mets feel that finishing with the tenth worst record in baseball is enough to warrant protection as one of the league’s weak sisters. The Union will go along with anything that ensures Michael Bourn gets as much money as he can. But do the Mets have a case?
Former lawyer Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk does not believe so. He claims the CBA was just signed and includes the very specific wording on the handling of just this situation. Should the league turn down the Mets claim and send this case before an arbiter, the Mets and the Union don’t have much in the way of legs upon which to stand. They just signed this deal, how can they possibly undercut it right away? Ken Rosenthal joins Calcaterra in his skepticism.
That’s why I’m the blogger and he’s the law-talkin’ guy. If there is a rule to bend, I say start leaning, Sandy! While the legal beagles disapprove of treating this newly forged legal document like the wee baby Seamus, I’m all for skulduggery if it means players get paid and Bud Selig gets heart palpitations.
The Mets aren’t really in the sort of position to forsake draft picks in the front half of the first round. That said, even a rebuilding team should be ashamed to head into the season with an outfield of Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter, Collin Cowgill et al. Bourn is good enough that, with the Mets pitching depth, he could certainly be a part of the next good Mets team.
If only they’d lost the final game of the year instead of beating the Marlins, all this could be avoided. Another reminder that, when tanking, try not to half-ass it.