contractThis morning, when I was feverishly scouring the web for anything new on the impending expiration of baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement instead of putting together the Bullets like a good boy, I realized that I was engaged in an Obsessive Watch.

The CBA, which governs the relationships between baseball teams and players (and thus dictates so many of the rules of the sport), is set to expire on December 1, which is this Thursday. That means there are just three working days until we careen into territory uncharted in baseball for 14 years – operating under an expired agreement, with the threat of a work stoppage present every day. Back in 2002, the sides worked out a deal some 10 months after the previous CBA had expired, but only on the threat of a strike, which would be the sport’s first since the infamous and damaging 1994-95 strike.



No one expects things to get to that point this time around, and I would say the expectation is that a deal gets done by Thursday, let alone by the time games begin in 2017. But there are numerous, significant issues that still need finalizing, and the sides will be hard at work trying to figure things out in the next few days.

Ken Rosenthal reports that negotiations will pick up today, with all interested parties involved, and with new proposals on the table:



Although there are many other issues to sort out, multiples reports have indicated that free agent draft pick compensation and the international draft are two of the biggest sticking points, and were explicitly tied together in a proposal from the owners, which would eliminate draft pick compensation in exchange for the draft.

One wonders, then, what the new proposal involving the international draft would be. If it’s still a draft, maybe it comes with larger bonus pools? Less strict bonus pools? Perhaps we’ll find out this week, or maybe we’ll just find out when there’s a sudden announcement that the deal is done.

Until then, we’re likely to see transaction activity around the league slow, as it has been for the past two weeks. Teams and players are likely reluctant to enter into any kind of significant deal until they have a better sense of what the landscape is going to be in the coming years (and, of course, big-time free agents won’t want to sign until they know whether they’ll be anchored by draft pick compensation or not – and if those guys are all waiting to sign, then that alone could hold almost everything else up by way of a trickle down effect).

For me, I’m just so anxious to see this thing done so that I can dig into the particulars. I remember when the current CBA first came out in late 2011, with its dramatic changes to the game, and it was fun trying to unpack it all and anticipate the consequences.



UPDATE: Jeff Passan just tweeted out some more:

To that last point, I suppose it depends on how the actual negotiations play out. As I mention above, it’s still conceivable that an international draft is put in place that at least raises the earning power of international players relative to what you might otherwise expect in a draft system (i.e., with larger draft pools, softer restrictions on overspending, etc.). Obviously the players are still greatly going to prefer no draft at all, but we’ll see.






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