Last night, when there's normally no real MLB news due to Selig's mandate that nothing upstaging the World Series, MLB and it's coinciding Unions (Owners & Players) announced that they've settled differences and have reached a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will be in effect until 2001. With the old one set to expire in December, this relatively quick agreement is unprecedented in baseball standards.
Rays fans and fans of small-to-middle market teams alike will like a lot of the new tweaks and changes in the new CBA, which pretty much sets a standard and allows them more ability to improve themselves instead of continually being buried by "large market" teams who spend money on Free Agents like they have a hole in their pocket.
Here's a few tidbits of the CBA
that should/will affect teams like the Rays the most...
* Smaller-revenue clubs must continue to invest revenue income to improve the team's on-field performance.
Revenue-sharing money will be used more often to, or is intended to, be spent on improving the on-the-field product.
- Clubs that can't sign their first- or second-round picks will be slotted in for a compensatory pick at the same slot in the following year's draft. Clubs that can't sign a third-round pick will receive a sandwich pick between the third and fourth rounds at the following year's draft.
- Clubs have an Aug. 15 deadline to sign all draft selections except college seniors.
- Minor League players can now be protected from the Rule 5 Draft for an extra year, to four or five years
These changes in the CBA are where the Rays will really thrive the most in the future. With the Draft Pick Compensatory for non-signings mean that you're no longer too scared to take huge risks in picks, seeing that if you can't sign a pick in the first 3 rounds, you don't really get punished for it.. The Rays, in this last draft, appear to have
made a lot of picks that were considered "signability" picks because they wanted a lot of our higher round picks to sign and get into action relatively quick. However, they can't be too risky because you don't get a make-up pick for a make-up pick.
With the deadline, the draft-eligible players lose a lot of leverage in trying to hold-out for more because they will no longer be able to use enrollment in college/returning to school a negotiating point. This also negates the "Draft-and-Follow" prospect. Players who fail to sign at the August 15th deadline will have the chance to enroll themselves into a Junior College and play for a team, but a team will no longer have an advantage in being able to sign that player.
The change in the Rule 5 Draft helps the Rays the most this offseason because they have a lot of prospects that they'd have to protect this year. They now have a year to weed out their prospects more and will be able to determine who they have to protect (by adding them to the 40-Man Roster) or leaving open for Rule 5 Draft eligibility.
* Dec. 7, Dec. 19, Jan. 8 and May 1 deadlines are eliminated.
Teams will be allowed more time to re-sign their Free Agents and aren't blocked by deadlines (like the Roger Clemens fiasco of last year.)
- Type C free agent classification is eliminated.
- Teams that lose a Type B free agent will now earn a sandwich pick instead of taking selection from club that signed player.
- The pool of Type A players shrinks from top 30 percent of each position to top 20 percent, while the Type B player pool will be reduced from the top 31-50 percent of players to 21-40 percent.
I'm not as much worried with the Type C Free Agent compensation being cut, but the changes in Type A & B Free Agent Compensation will be a strong determining factor on how fast and often the Rays will use Free Agency in building the team. I believe, from these changes, that we'll be more active in the 2nd and 3rd Tier Free Agents and won't pursue the top Free Agents until we're actually a playoff-contending team.
* Major League minimum salary will increase to $380,000 in 2007, $390,000 in 2008, $400,000 in 2009 and to a cost-of-living increase in 2011..
This hike in the minimum will probably hurt us in 2007 more than it will in the subsequent years. It'll limit a bit of our spending in Free Agency this offseason because it'll add around 2-3 MIL in salary, due to all our younger players who are in the first 3 years of their careers who make the Major League Minimum.
Players traded in the middle of a multi-year contract no longer have the right to demand a trade. Players who currently hold that right from the last CBA are grandfathered in and can still demand a trade.
This is one of the most interesting parts of the CBA because it pretty much says if you get traded and you're in a Multi-year deal, you can't demand to be traded because you don't like where you got traded. Basically if the Rays see a player who is in the middle of a multi-year deal and acquire him in a trade, the player has to finish his contract with us unless we trade him..
The CBA may not be entirely "small market"-friendly, but there's a few things that the Rays can use to our advantage.