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Thoughts On The New MLB CBA

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association officially came to an agreement today on a five-year collective bargaining agreement that runs through December 1, 2016. You can download your own copy of the a summary of the agreement from the Players Association (a PDF file). I haven't yet had a chance to go through the entire document yet, but here are a few things that stood out:

Expanded Postseason

There will be an additional wild card team in each league, beginning no later than 2013. The two wild cards in each league will play a one-game playoff in order to advance to the Division Series. A decision will be made on whether to add the extra wild card teams for next season by March 1, 2012.

Free Agent Compensation

Starting next offseason (in other words, the Dodgers still get a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds of the 2012 draft for losing Rod Barajas to the Pittsburgh Pirates), there will be no more Elias rankings and no more Type A or Type B free agents. The new system of compensation will be as follows:

  • Players must be with the club for the entire season; in other words, no more trading for pending free agents trying to stockpile draft picks.
  • The former club must offer a one-year contract "with a salary equal to the average salary of the 125-highest paid Players from the prior season" (Jayson Stark of ESPN said this value would have been $12.5 million this season) by the end of the fifth day following the World Series. The player has seven days to accept or decline the offer.
  • A club that signs such a player who declined a qualifying offer will forfeit its first round pick, but the protected picks are only the top 10 now; not top 15. The old club will also receive a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds, similar to Type A free agents now.

MLB Draft (aka the Rule 4 Draft)

The draft changes probably deserve their own post, but for now...

The signing deadline will move to between July 12 and July 18 each year, "depending on the date of the All-Star Game." In addition, there will be no more major league contracts for draft picks.

Each team is allotted a "Signing Bonus Pool" each year (MLB will assign a slot value to all picks in the first 10 rounds, which will determine each team's limit), which includes the bonuses for all selections in the first 10 rounds of the draft, plus any bonuses in excess of $100,000 for any pick after the 10th round. The penalties for exceeding the pool are harsh:

  • If over the pool by up to five percent, the team gets taxed 75% on the overage
  • If over the pool by 5-10%, the team gets taxed 75% on the overage and loses a first round pick
  • If over the pool by 10-15%, the team gets taxed 100% on the overage and loss of a first and second round pick
  • If over the pool by 15% or more, 100% tax on the overage plus a loss of a first round pick in the next two drafts

Thanks For Playing, Houston

The Houston Astros will move to the American League West in 2013, giving baseball six divisions of five teams each. The main consequence of this, aside from the National League losing a team that will have been around for 51 years, is that there will be interleague play all the time, rather than at designated points throughout the season, since there will be 15 teams in each league. You'll be missed, Astros. We'll always have 1980.

What Does "Certain" Mean?

The new CBA says "Active Roster limits will be expanded to 26 for certain regular or split doubleheaders." Since it doesn't say all doubleheaders, I wonder what are the criteria for being able to add an extra player.

Call It The Veteran Depth Tax

Major league free agents who sign minor league contracts who don't make the opening day roster or are unconditionally released within five days of opening day (think Juan Castro and Gabe Kapler from the 2011 Dodgers) will get an additional $100,000 "retention bonus" and the right to opt out on June 1. Several players have opt out clauses negotiated into their minor league contracts as it is, but this just makes it automatic.

Minimum Salary

The MLB minimum salary will rise to $480,000 in 2012, $490,000 in 2013, $500,000 in 2014, and cost of living increases in both 2015 and 2016. For players signing their second (or any thereafter) major league contract (players on the 40-man roster), the minor league minimum salary will be $78,250 in 2012, $79,900 in 2013, $81,500 in 2014, with cost of living increases in both 2015 and 2016.

This agreement did not address the minimum salary for players signing their first major league contract (i.e. Chris Withrow and Scott Van Slyke, to name a few 2012 Dodgers); the minimum salary for that was $33,700 in 2011 and has been essentially half (with an occasional rounding) of the other minor league minimum salary.

Super Twos

For players with at least two years but not three years of major league service time, the top 22% (up from 17%) will be eligible for salary arbitration. The prior agreement also stated such a player would have had to have at least 86 days of service time in the year immediately preceding this arbitration eligibility; I am uncertain whether or not this clause is still in effect.

The Frank McCourt Rule

"Debt of a Club’s owner or related party will be covered by the Debt Service Rule if the debt is serviced, in whole or in part, using Club funds or assets."

How Much Is Butterworth?

Not in the major leagues already? Then you can't use a "low density maple bat" for the entire term of this agreement. Current players can continue using them if they so choose.

Blood Testing

Beginning in 2013, players during spring training will be randomly tested for hGH.

The Joe Garagiola Rule

"Players, managers, and coaches will be prohibited from using smokeless tobacco during televised interviews and Club appearances. In addition, at any time when fans are permitted in the ballpark, players, managers and coaches must conceal tobacco products (including packages and tins), and may not carry tobacco products in their uniforms or on their bodies."