A number of Lukewarm Stove items to get to today, so hopefully not too many of you are traveling for Turkey Day. Until we get bits on Geovany Soto, Carlos Marmol, Matt Garza, and Prince Fielder, bullets…

  • The big news yesterday was the collective bargaining agreement, and some of its surprisingly drastic changes to the draft, international free agency, and draft pick compensation for free agents. One important bit that has come out since the announcement: the “pools” of money available to teams for the first 10 rounds of the draft are expected to range from $4.5 million to $11.5 million, depending on where the team picks and how many picks they have. That means the overall money spent on the draft will not be dramatically lower than it has been in the last few years, which is good – but pool limits are still much lower than, for example, what the Cubs spent in 2011. The overwhelming reaction from pundits has been that the changes to the draft are a net bad thing for baseball. No argument here – baseball has just put up a roadblock to young, talented, multi-sport athletes. Not a great idea.
  • The loopholes and unintended consequences are already unfolding: a reader suggests to BA’s Jim Callis that teams could decide to not sign their first rounder in a given year, use the money allotted to signing that player in the later rounds (so they’re still using their full pool of money that year), and then the next year they get a replacement first rounder PLUS the allotted money to sign that player. So, doing this allows you to spend that money twice.
  • The international free agent pool of money for each team in 2012 is expected to be about $2.9 million, which is hopelessly low. Sorry, kids from Latin America – your signing bonuses just went way down. Note that the international free agent limits don’t appear to apply to players from Japan, or other players over 23 years old.
  • As discussed yesterday, in the new CBA, draft pick compensation is given for departing free agents only where their current team (for whom they had to have played the entire year) offers them a one-year deal for a salary in excess of the average of the top 125 salaries from the previous year. For 2011, that number would have been about $12.5 million. I suspect that number will go up in 2012, as more teams allocate resources formerly available for the draft or international free agency back to the big league payroll. For this offseason, it looks like Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena will remain Type B free agents, subject to the rules we’re all used to. Today’s the deadline to offer them arbitration, by the way. Ramirez is guaranteed to get an offer, but Pena is a closer call.
  • My gut says that, while the Cubs’ rebuild strategy won’t change in total in response to the CBA, the Cubs will now pursue free agents a bit more aggressively. Pursuing Prince Fielder went from a “probably not” in my mind to a “yeah, I think maybe they will.” Aggressively pursuing Yoenis Cespedes went from a “yeah, I think they probably will” to a “oh yeah, they’re going to make him a big offer.” Ditto Yu Darvish.
  • Jim Callis offers some helpful analysis on the various CBA provisions for those who would like to acquire some more in-depth knowledge.
  • Jonah Keri, as he usually does, nails the biggest problems with the CBA, particularly the ways in which it hurts small market teams … and smart front offices. Crud.
  • I had a thought this morning on why the Cubs/Red Sox and Cubs/Padres are waiting to decide on compensation for Epstein and Hoyer until after the Rule 5 Draft: maybe it’s as simple as the Red Sox and Padres potentially wanting kids who are currently exposed to the Rule 5 Draft, but not wanting to have to use a draft pick on the kids, and thus wanting to wait until after the Draft to make sure that the kids aren’t selected? Think of it this way: say the Red Sox want Abner Abreu, who is a high-upside prospect (outfielder the Cubs got for Kosuke Fukudome), but who is still at High A. He’s eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, and is highly unlikely to be selected, because he almost certainly can’t stick on a ML roster right now. But, if you’re the Red Sox, why would you want to take him now, knowing that there was a small risk some other team might take him in the Rule 5? So, instead, you wait until after the Rule 5, make sure you’re in the clear, and then finalize the compensation. We may have been overcomplicating this thing.
  • Carlos Zambrano is expected to be able to return to the mound on Saturday after taking a liner to the face.
  • MLBTR blogger Tim Dierkes was on CSN’s new hot stove show last night to talk about the Cubs’ offseason and chances in 2012. “I think you pretty much have to write off 2012,” Dierkes said. “I don’t think the Cubs have that kind of talent. I think Theo is going to acknowledge that … I think we need to put our faith in these guys, but I think we need to keep our expectations low for this upcoming season.” Expectations are, indeed, low. A lot could change this offseason, though.
  • Check out the new Bleacher Nation shirt(s), which are swell. There are a few special deals, outlined here, that last through tomorrow only. Thus, I am reminding you.


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