MLB Finds Labor Zen


We were all outraged as we learned Matt Kemp had lost the MVP to Ryan Braun yesterday morning. The BBWAA’s narrow-minded choosing of Braun over Kemp, only because Braun’s team went to the NLCS or whatever. That’s another story though. However The NL MVP was very quietly announced, as the new collective bargaining agreement between MLB players and owners was being announced.

While this is a Dodger blog and normally we wouldn’t be discussing many non-Dodger related topics, the new CBA effects us all. Reportedly the length is five years, according to reports. By the time the deal expires on December 1st of 2016, it will give MLB 21 years of labor peace. Before we start complaining and ripping apart this new CBA, let’s remember that this is a good thing regardless. There will be no more labor strife. No more lawyers and court room showdowns, just Baseball. Just good ol’ fashioned ball games. Kershaw shutouts, Bison blasts, Playoff races, all-star games, World Series, Hot Stove, Trades, Signings, etc. etc. etc. The point is Baseball is at peace and must never again repeat the awfulness of the work stoppage of 1994-1995.

With that being said, let’s all be thankful this coming thanksgiving, that MLB is at labor peace for a long time. We wont have to worry about that stuff anymore. Now as for the details of the new CBA, it will bring about major changes to Major League Baseball that will have a ripple affect throughout the game.

The first change will be to how teams can spend cash in the amateur draft. There will be a significant spending limit for teams in the draft. According to the details of the new CBA the limits will be in the 4.5-11.5 million dollar range. The spending restrictions will vary for each team depending on when the team is scheduled to make it’s first ten selections.

There will be strict penalties for teams that go over the limit. Those include a threshold tax, and loss of future first and second round picks.

The draft signing deadline has been moved up fgrom august 15th to mid July. somewhere between July 12-18, depending on the date of the All-Star game.

Portions of the threshold tax will go to teams that did not over spend on revenue sharing. There will be no more trades involving draft picks, and forfeited picks will go to teams based on their season winning percentage and revenue.

This competitive balance lottery will give low-revenue teams a chance to win additional draft picks based on their winning percentage and revenue. The ten lowest revenue teams will be able to win one of six additional draft picks that will be added after the first round. there will be a second lottery for the rest of the teams. These lottery picks can be traded.

Teams will also face spending limits for international players as well. A similar threshold tax will apply. There will be spending taxes of 5%, 15%, 75% and 100%, and limits on signing bonus up to 500,000 dollars as well. Each team will be allowed 2.9 million dollars to spend on international player’s bonuses, and eventually this will be in the 1.8-5 million range.

The international signing limits wont affect the posting system for Japanese players. These spending limits wont kick in until next winter.

There will be big changes for Draft Pick compensation under the new CBA. MLB will no longer be using the Elias free agent ranking system. Free agents will no longer be ranked at all. Only players that have been with their teams the entire season will be subject to compensation. Free agents will cost a compensatory draft pick if there former teams offered them one year guaranteed deals, that match or exceeds the 125 highest salaried players from the previous season. In other words only the top tier players that would normally be type A free agents would be subject to the compensatory draft picks. Teams that sign these “top tier” players will have to give up a first round pick, unless they have a top ten pick, then they can surrender there second highest pick. The offers must be made by the end of the five day “quiet period”, and the player will have seven days to accept.

The arbitration changes are as follows, The deadline to offer arbitration has been moved up to December 2nd. The cutoff for the “super Two” players will rise from the top 17% of players with at least 2-3 years service time, to the top 22%.

For the first time ever MLB will begin using blood testing for the human growth hormone also known as HGH. It will not happen during the regular season unless there is reasonable suspicion. Otherwise it will happen every winter starting in 2012. Players can also be tested during spring training to determine “energy levels”.

The changes to revenue sharing and the luxury tax are that by 2016 the top 15 teams market wise will not be elligible for revenue sharing. Teams that surpass the luxury tax threshold of 178 million dollars will be taxed 42% in 2012 and 50% in 2013. The Yankees, and Red Sox better pay attention to this detail.

For the first time since 1998 there will be realignment, and a second team will change leagues. The Milwaukee Brewers moved from the American League Central to the National League Central in 1998. In 2013 the Houston Astros will move from the National League Central to the American League West. This will balance the leagues by having two 15 team leagues in each league. This will also require there to be inter-league play every week. MLB will be expanding the playoffs as I’m sure everyone has heard by now. MLB will be adding one wild card team in each league for five playoff teams and ten teams total. The two wild card teams will play each other in a one game playoff to determine who advances to the Division Series. This has been something MLB commissioner Bud Selig has talked about doing for a while now. Selig stated that then one game playoff will be “dramatic”. The added wild cards could go into effect for next season but no later than 2013. MLB has until March 1st of 2012 at the latest to make that decision.

Other changes include, expanding the rosters to 26 players for certain doubleheaders, Instant replay will be expanded to include fair/foul plays and whether balls or caught or trapped. The MLB minimum salary will increase to 480,000 in 2012.

These are all the new changes set to go into affect on December 11th, which is when the old agreement expires. MLB focused this new CBA on making things fair, or competitive balance. I think they have helped address in some ways. I like the spending limits on amateur spending, because I feel it evens out the draft market to ensure 18 year old kids out of high school are’nt getting million dollar contracts. I think the Players Union would agree, considering its a bit unfair to see 18 year old college kids who have never played a pro game making more money than some of the major leaguers who have been in the league for years. It also helps curb the signing bonuses given to these draftees which has gotten out of control in the last few years.

I like the elimination of the Elias ranking system, but dont like the elimination of most of the draft pick compensation for free agents. The HGH testing is a good thing, and MLB is still talking about having a world draft.

I don’t like the realignment and inter league play all throughout the season. Ive never really liked inter league play. Its novelty has worn off I believe, but mostly because it has been inequitable. The schedules are based on Home and home series with rival teams. Since some teams don’t have a rival, the schedules have become bizarre. MLB should do something like football does which is have each team play all their games against one division from the other league. This way each team just plays a different division each year, and I would like to see them keep the unbalanced type of a schedule where they play more games against their own division. (were’nt we trying to improve balance?)

I don’t like the added wild cards either. Although I don’t think it is anything that would be catastrophic to the game. There is issues with it, but there is also good that will come with it as well. I agree that it is stupid to make two teams entire seasons come down to just one game, similar what football does, and it is very trendy. Baseball is about deciding the playoffs with series of games. MLB wants the additional revenue from a one game playoff that will be nationally televised. MLB has liked the recent one game play-ins over the last few years and wants to ensure there is one every year. However I kind of like it, here are the reasons why….

1. It ensures Selig gets his way and only one additional day is added to the calendar. this ensures that Baseball is not pushed into November which is would certainly be assured of had they decided on a two out of three series, or another five game series. I am very much against Baseball being played in November, hey we all saw how many rain outs there were during the last postseason right? Just imagine playing in New York or Boston during the November weather? awful.

2. The division winners aren’t sitting around idle for days.

3. This is an important reason and a big one for the decision, other than the money reasons of coarse….It gives the division winners a clear advantage for winning their divisions. Don’t like burning your Ace in a one game playoff? Win your division or too bad.

Well that is my take on the new CBA. No matter what your opinion on the new changes is, MLB has found their labor zen. That is something we can all be thankful for. Have a Blue turkey day everyone!