Yesterday, we did a mental dump of everything we knew about the recently finalized Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Among the highlights, we know that there will be no 26th man on the roster, no international draft, some updated (and complicated) free agent compensation rules, a new 10-day disabled list, and much, much more. If you didn’t read it, this post will presume you did. Slacker.
As we anticipated, more info continues to arrive as more folks gain access to the details of the CBA, so there’s some more news to relay. The word of that sentence is “more.”
Som more on the CBA …
- MLB and the MLBPA just officially announced the deal.
- One of the bigger new developments is the price-fixed, but simplified international signing system (the one that may yet prevent Shohei Otani from making his Major League Debut until 2019). Instead of various-sized bonus pools for every team that could be exceeded (and taxed), the new CBA will grant just about the same amount to every team (roughly $5-$6 million, with smaller markets getting the higher end of that scale), with a hard cap at that amount. At FanGraphs, Dave Cameron has been looking into how teams might try to exploit the new system, including other teams signing players using their cap space and almost immediately trading them to other teams, by request.
- The other implication of these new international signing rules is that MLB might see fewer young established talents, because many may choose to just stay in their respective international leagues until they turn 25 and can really cash in – Shohei Otani is a perfect example of this. But, like Brett alluded to earlier, Cameron suggests that MLB may make some exceptions to this rule. We’ll have to wait and see.
- Drug testing, including more offseason drug testing, will be greatly increased during the new CBA.
- At Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan has heard that the relatively limited scope of this CBA is simply setting up MLB for “war in 2021.” Specifically, Passan recognizes that a confluence of factors – revenue increases, greater gaps between big and small markets, continued international strife, and more – may lead to a far more “tortuous path toward a deal” next time around. One source even told Passan that he/she would be shocked if there’s not a strike in 2021 … yikes.
- And on the absence of that International Draft, Passan reveals that the MLB was prepared to completely eliminate the qualifying offer in exchange for the draft, but the players union declined and settled in the middle (a less costly draft pick compensation system and the more strict international rules). He has much more on the two related decisions, as well as more on the CBA, here.
- Buster Olney has heard that some club officials believe the new international system is basically as good as the international draft would have been anyway. I agree:
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) December 1, 2016
- When you consider the fact that more players are now subject to strict IFA spending and that spending has been restricted more than ever, I’m pretty confident that a draft would have been equally negatively impactful on international free agents.
- On the moderate increase in the luxury tax threshold, some officials believe that the best young free agents will be receiving slightly smaller contracts than what would otherwise be expected. Guys like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, for a couple examples, might be worth somewhere between $30-40 million per year, but won’t get that much given the harsher penalties and overall more serious cap-like structure. Others, however, believe that the elite tier free agents will actually be unaffected and the second tier might be the ones that bear the biggest burden (ESPN): “I do think you’ll see the second tier [of free agents] really affected because handing down a $20 million deal to a really good player – not a superstar – becomes more problematic.” I can see it.
- The lessening of severe draft pick compensation penalties should help free agents, of course, but those rules don’t kick in until next offseason. This year, then, players like Mark Trumbo, Jose Bautista, Ian Desmond, and Dexter Fowler may face a bit a of problem, as the last of the “losing a first round pick” free agents.
- Speaking of those agents, many felt as though they were left out of the process, and unable to properly advocate for the player they represent. Olney fears this will lead to increased issues with the union leadership, as one agent claimed “There’s going to be reckoning.” Suddenly, I’m starting to agree about the war in 2021.
- Back to the luxury tax threshold, teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox and Tigers might be in immediate danger of paying a lot more (and being impacted by changes in the draft pick compensation rules), given their enormous payrolls. The Tigers may be in the worst position of all, with the fewest young, inexpensive players to fill out the roster if they decide to cut costs. This is the reason you’ll continue to see rumors for big-time players like Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander. Similarly, Olney wonders if Giancarlo Stanton suddenly has the most untradeable, untouchable contract in baseball.
- Finally, one of the more interesting fallouts from the reduced free agent compensation (for the team losing the player) is the chance that they’re might be more trades before the 2017 season now that you’re not guaranteed a post-first round draft pick if those qualified free agents leave.
- Specifically, this idea is thought to really affect the Royals, who, before the CBA, stood to gain at least three high picks when each of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain left next season. Now, Olney wonders if they’ll try to move one or more of them for a better return before the season, before losing them for less than they thought they might get.
- The same can be said for a number of teams comprised of multiple players with just one year of control left. This is, for what it’s worth, a perfect example of some unforeseen consequences (not all are good or bad) that can arise once completely new rules are put into place.