New CBA rules
Well, the new CBA was announced today. Most importantly, we get five more years of uninterrupted baseball, a much welcome break from the 90s when labor struggles were too often the headlines. So, hooray for both sides for coming to an agreement on how to split their massive profits without complaining. Good job, fellows.
As far as the rule changes, there are some interesting and important wins. In no particular order:
- Free agent compensation is changing, but not going away, contrary to multiple reports from different sources. Not a big surprise, honestly. The percentages for how Type A and B free agents will be calculated differently now, and compensation for a Type B free agent will now come from the league instead of the signing team, but the system’s structure remains in tact. This means the Mariners will still get compensation for Gil Meche this winter.
- Perhaps getting the least attention of the important rule changes, amateur draft picks must now sign by August 15th. This will put an end to the long, protracted holdouts we’ve seen by high draftees recently, but more importantly, also puts an end to the draft-and-follow process that teams have used to evaluate a player’s development during a year at a junior college and still be able to sign the player. The DFE process, as it was known, was a boon for JC baseball, and the elimination of the DFE process isn’t a good thing, in my opinion.
- Also draft related, compensation for not signing a player is now given at the same slot as the pick used on the unsigned player. In other words, if the Royals had not signed Luke Hochevar this summer, under the new rules, they would get the #1 pick next summer, and everyone else would slide back a pick. This is a big deal; it gives teams all kinds of incentives to hold the line on signing bonuses and creates a massive potential for abuse.
For instance, if the Mariners desired last summer, they could have looked at the crop of available talent, decided they weren’t big fans of the guys available at #5, and drafted a HS senior who was essentially a lock to go to college, made him an offer they knew he wouldn’t accept, and then take the #5 pick in next year’s draft as compensation for “losing” their draftee. Essentially, teams are now given the ability to “trade” one year’s draft selection for the next year’s, if they so desire. The Reds actually did something similar to this a few years ago, when they were having budget issues, and now teams will have significantly more motivation to pull the same trick. On the surface, it seems like a good idea, but it’s really relying on a lot of integrity from the teams themselves to work. I’m not sure putting these guys on the honor system is a great idea.
- The league minimum salary gets a significant bump, from $327,000 to $380,000 next year, $390,000 in 2008, and then $400,000 for the rest of the agreement. That’s a 22% raise in the minimum salary. Depending on how the free agent market responds to the new CBA, this could potentially serve to make mid-tier players more attractive than previous, as the cost of replacement level is going up, lowering the value of low-end talent in the process. Mid-tier players have been significantly overpriced the past few years; this may begin to shift. We’ll see.
- All the previous offseason deadlines are being eliminated, such as the date for players to accept an arbitration offer or the May 1st date they had to wait to re-sign with a club who failed to reach a new contract with them after a certain offseason date. This should hopefully eliminate that annoying offseason lag we had every year, where teams waited around to sign players until the non-tenders began, and essentially make everything flow a little better. I hope.
All in all, some changes I’m not so fond of, but some good ones too, and in the end, labor peace = woohoo!