Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Some Thoughts on the New CBA

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. This comes almost three weeks before the previous one expired.

I'm pleased that these negotiations didn't seem to get contentious or worrisome. I know that NFL and NBA have had, or are having, their labor struggles. But, let's be honest, MLB's history of work stoppages is pretty ugly. So the fact that both sides weren't really far ever apart on the issues is a relief.

Here's a summary of the CBA.

There are a few points I'm interested in talking about.

Free Agents and Draft Picks
Remember everything I said here about Type A and Type B free agents and the compensation the Twins might get if they offered those players arbitration and the players declined? Well, throw all that out in the snow. As Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune recaps, if the Twins offer Michael Cuddyer (a Type A) arbitration and he declines and signs elsewhere, the Twins will receive a draft pick right before the new team's pick plus a sandwich-round pick. Jason Kubel's (Type B) situation doesn't change -- the Twins would get a sandwich pick. However, if Matt Capps (formerly a Type A, now a modified Type B) signs with another team, the Twins automatically get a sandwich pick, but the Twins don't have to offer him arbitration (and risk him accepting it and getting more money than last year) to get it.

Unfortunately, this may make it easier for Cuddyer to leave the Twins. Teams who want to hang on to the draft pick will be lining up at his door. If the Twins are serious about retaining him, they'll have to open the purse.

Going forward, the Elias rankings will no longer play into teams receiving draft picks for departing free agents. The joke around Twitter was that once they saw that Matt Capps was a Type A, everyone knew the system was whacked. Starting next off-season, teams will have to offer a one-year contract worth the average of the top 125 salaries in order to get a draft pick. Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN explains that really well.

I think this will really help guys who are good players but not really elite. Teams won't be as likely to shy away from signing those guys because they won't cost a draft pick.

Chewing Tobacco
Players, managers, and coaches now will pretty much have to hide their chewing tobacco use from fans. They can't use it in interviews or when fans are present, and they may use it during games as long as no one can tell. So those uber-icky chaw wads might be gone, which will increase the attractiveness of baseball players who chew by 257% (getting them to give the stuff up completely will increase their attractiveness over 900%).

Better Batting Helmets
By 2013, all players will be required to wear a more protective batting helmets, and they won't be the bulky, crazy-ugly, Martian-looking helmets that they used to have for extra protection. This is good. I'm not sure if this helmet would've protected Justin Morneau or Denard Span when they smashed into other players, but it might help guys who get beaned in the head with a pitch.

All Star Game Appearances
Now players who are selected to go to the All Star Game now actually have to show up for the All Star Game unless they get a note from their doctor or from the Commissioner. I find this kind of amusing, but I'm not really sure why.

Expanded Drug Testing
They're going to start testing for hGH. The players will be tested during Spring Training, during the season if there is probable cause, and randomly during the off-season.

I've always had serious concerns about hGH testing, and there hasn't been anything to change my mind or convince me that it's a good idea since I first wrote about it. But, the players agreed, so I guess I can't whine about it too much.

Expanded Instant Replay
They're going to expand instant replay to include fair/foul balls and trapped catches. I opposed instant replay a few years ago, but I have softened my view of it since. I've done more reading and thinking about the topic. Turns out that umpires are actually in favor of expanding instant replay -- they truly want to get the calls right.

I tend to be a purist in my baseball fandom -- after all, it's had imperfect umpiring for over 100 years, so why change it now? But really, I guess I prefer correct calls more.

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