Rabu, 09 November 2011

New MLB CBA: What it Means for Free Agents and Your Favorite Team

Unlike the NFL, NHL, and NBA, it appears that MLB's latest CBA dispute is going to go over much more smoothly and should be resolved rather soon.  So what is the deal with the CBA?  What does it impact and why should anyone care about it?  Well, this CBA could be rather revolutionary in terms of making progression in baseball.  With this in mind, it's time to discuss what's up for grabs and how it could potentially impact everything.

The issues:

1) The Type A Free Agency Listing

This is, in my opinion, the most significant of all of the issues surrounding the new CBA.  Right now, the Elias Sports Bureau does a ranking of all major league players and assigns them a rating.  Players get sorted out to be Type A, Type B, or unmarked players.  Unmarked are considered to not have a serious impact on a team, Type B are second tier players that are thought to have decent impact on a team, and Type A free agents are supposed to be top tier talents.  However, right now, guys like Kelly Johnson and Octavio Dotel are being ranked as type A free agents.  I do not know a single statistical analyst that would put these two players as Type A players.  The Elias system is sketchy at best right now, and it causes problems for teams.  Now, the significance of this is that the type of free agent determines the amount of potential compensation or loss a team can gain from signing that player.  Teams first need to offer arbitration to the player, and if it is denied, compensation is issued.  Type A free agents result in first round compensation picks for the team that lost the player, and results in a loss of a first round pick for the team that signs the player.  The initial thought behind this was to make it so small market teams would be fairly compensated for the loss of a major free agent.  Well, there are many problems with this.  Firstly, if players aren't ranked properly at first, then proper compensation can't possibly be fairly determined.  Second, it can be argued that draft picks aren't fair compensation due to the lack of success out of the draft system.  The compensation is not guaranteed and the team isn't guaranteed to see benefits from the current system.  As of right now, teams will be reluctant to offer arbitration or sign free agents without knowing the potential changes to this compensation system.

2) Signing Bonus Slotting in the Draft

If you are a high school prospect slotted for the 2nd round of the draft, are you going to go to college and improve your stock or are you going to settle for being a 2nd rounder?  Well, with slotted bonuses in the draft, that's no longer a question.  You go to college and improve your slotting.  This way, players such as Dillon Maples, who signed a lucrative deal in the 14th round due to signability issues, will not get the opportunity to negotiate their signing bonuses.  No more paying for an elite, once-in-a-lifetime player like Bryce Harper and paying less for Gerrit Cole.  Those players will make the same amount of money, likely adjusted for market inflation.

3) Being Able to Trade Draft Picks

This is one thing that is unlikely to happen in this CBA, but hopefully it will happen soon.  Currently, teams cannot throw draft picks into negotiations for trades like the NFL, NBA, and NHL can.  In my opinion, this is an issue that is holding baseball back.  If a small market team does not like any prospects in a large market team's farm, they should be able to demand draft picks as compensation for their end of the bargain in order to draft their own prospects the way that they want to.  Scouting, drafting, and player development are becoming more and more vital for teams in the current free agent market, and letting teams be better able to draft their own guys and develop their own system is vital for improvement.  This could, also, allow teams to go and get players at the top of the draft.  If a team does not like its first overall pick due to the depth of the draft, they should be able to trade it for multiple picks.  This allows a more expanded farm and better development.  It just doesn't make sense not to allow it.

4) New Luxury Tax

After the 2011 season, the Luxury Tax soft cap system officially was terminated since it was technically independent of the current CBA.  This is an opportunity for Major League Baseball to get the soft cap right. The current system does not fairly compensate the rest of the league.  Teams can easily afford to spend over the soft cap, and not enough money gets thrown into the revenue sharing pie.  HOWEVER, there are currently teams that are profiting solely off of revenue sharing and are not spending enough to remain competitive (coughcoughPITTSBURGHcoughcough).  Therefore, I believe there needs to be some kind of rewards system or salary floor necessary for teams to maintain if they want to receive the full benefits of the revenue sharing system.  If done right, this will increase competition for small market teams and will lead to more free agents going to more "exotic" places like San Diego, Kansas City, and other places you never hear about in the off season by free agency standards.

5) Luxury Taxing the Draft

Can't say how much I disagree with this in the draft.  I would prefer hard slotting to a Luxury Tax in the draft.  If a team is going to efficiently spend money, the place to do it is in the draft.  Teams that are aggressive in the draft or are willing to pay over slot (Boston, Texas, Atlanta, Toronto, Kansas City, etc) see the benefits with a fruitful farm system.  There have always been "signability" issues in the draft, with guys falling farther in the draft to larger market teams due to price, but it is my opinion that small market teams should put much more money in the draft, due to the incredible inefficiency of the free agent market.  Promoting this new system would hurt teams that are trying to spend wisely in the draft rather than blowing dollars on the free agent market.

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