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MLB’s new CBA and how it affects the Pirates

This afternoon, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA announced a new collective bargaining agreement that will extend labor peace through the 2016 season. Not like it was ever in question, but the good news is that us baseball fans won’t have to suffer through any kinds of work stoppages in the near future. But let’s take a look at some of the changes to the new CBA and how those changes affect baseball and the Pirates organization.

Here are some highlights (or low lights) and how it affects the Pirates:

Beginning no later than the 2013 Postseason, Postseason play will be expanded for the first time since 1995. A second Wild Card will be awarded to the Club in each league with the second-best overall record among Clubs that do not win a division. The two Wild Card Clubs will play a single Postseason game, the winner of which will advance to the Division Series.

Well, this is good news. Essentially, it adds another playoff team, which increases the Bucs’ chances of earning a postseason birth. It is now even a possibility that a team can finish in 3rd place in their division and be a playoff team.

The Houston Astros will move to the American League West starting in 2013, creating two leagues of 15 Clubs each.

This affects the Pirates in two ways. One, it is easier to win a division when you have to beat 4 teams and not 5. So that’s good. However, the downside is that the Astros are currently one of the teams that the Pirates are actually better than.

Starting in 2013, Interleague games will be played throughout the entire schedule, rather than exclusively in specific inter-league segments.

Some people don’t like Interleague play, some people do. I do. It should be fun to get to see more and more teams play who we normally don’t get to see.

Active Roster limits will be expanded to 26 for certain regular or split doubleheaders.

This is actually pretty cool. If anyone remembers the whole fiasco we had last season where we had to option Josh Harrison for an extra pitcher. And by doing that, we were stuck with a player on our bench who might as well have not existed (Pedro Ciriaco) until we could call Harrison back up. This should stop that from happening.

Starting in 2012, “Type A” and “Type B” free agents and the use of the Elias ranking system will be eliminated. The current system of draft pick compensation will be replaced with the following system:

A. Only Players who have been with their Clubs for the entire season will be subject to compensation.

B. A free agent will be subject to compensation if his former Club offers him a guaranteed one-year contract with a salary equal to the average salary of the 125-highest paid Players from the prior season. The offer must be made at the end of the five-day free agent “quiet period,” and the Player will have seven days to accept the offer.

C. A Club that signs a player subject to compensation will forfeit its first round selection, unless it selects in the top 10, in which case it will forfeit its second highest selection in the draft.

D. The Player’s former Club will receive a selection at the end of the first round beginning after the last regularly scheduled selection in the round. The former Clubs will select based on reverse order of winning percentage from the prior championship season.

The Pirates rarely utilize the draft compensation part of the current system. The big difference here is that relief pitchers who were previously designated as “Type A” or “Type B” free agents will no longer carry a 1st or 2nd round pick with them if they sign with a team, which makes sense.

The percentage of players with two years of service who will be arbitration eligible will be increased from the top 17% to the top 22% in terms of service.

More Super Two players. A good deal for the players, not so much for the clubs. This means that Andrew McCutchen would have most likely been a Super Two player after last year, thus costing more next year.

Now for the Draft…

The draft will continue to be conducted in June, but the signing deadline will be moved to a date between July 12 and July 18 depending on the date of the All-Star Game.

Hey, these draft changes look nice. This means that when someone signs after being drafted, they can actually play baseball the same year they are drafted!

Drafted players may only sign Minor League contracts.

This takes out what could have been a huge loophole to this…

Each Club will be assigned an aggregate Signing Bonus Pool prior to each draft. For the purpose of calculating the Signing Bonus Pools, each pick in the first 10 rounds of the draft has been assigned a value. (These values will grow each year with the rate of growth of industry revenue.) A Club’s Signing Bonus Pool equals the sum of the values of that Club’s selections in the first 10 rounds of the draft. Players selected after the 10th round do not count against a Club’s Signing Bonus Pool if they receive bonuses up to $100,000. Any amounts paid in excess of $100,000 will count against the Pool.

Uh oh…

Clubs that exceed their Signing Bonus Pools will be subject to penalties as follows:
Excess of Pool Penalty (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)
• 0-5% 75% tax on overage
• 5-10% 75% tax on overage and loss of 1st round pick
• 10-15% 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st and 2nd round picks
• 15%+ 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st round picks in next two drafts

Oh crap.

Well, we have reached the point where people are freaking out. Under previous rules, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent more money on the Amateur Draft than any other team in baseball over the last 4 seasons. The draft, along with the International market, were essentially the two things that they could actually exploit to their favor.

Under these new rules, the Pirates and other teams who do similar things, are heavily penalized for spending over what MLB says they “should spend.” For one, the tax is significant. And second, the fact that you lose draft picks the next season basically means that there is no way a team who relies to build through the draft can exploit it any longer.

This right here is really not good news. Teams like the Rays, Royals, and Pirates who can’t afford to sign big time free agents who relied on spending money in the draft simply will not be able to do that anymore, thus taking away one of the only things they could actually do that puts them on an even playing field with the “big boys.”

The ten Clubs with the lowest revenues, and the ten Clubs in the smallest markets, will be entered into a lottery for the six draft selections immediately following the completion of the first round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning the lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage.

Oh yay. More draft picks that crappy teams can’t spend any money on. However, these picks CAN be traded.

For each signing period after 2012-13, Clubs will be allocated different Signing Bonus Pools, based on reverse order of winning percentage the prior championship season (i.e., the Club with the lowest winning percentage the prior season shall receive the largest Pool).

Beginning in the 2013-2014 signing period (July 2, 2013 – June 15, 2014), Clubs may trade a portion of their Signing Bonus Pool, subject to certain restrictions.

Clubs that exceed their Signing Bonus Pools will be subject to the following penalties in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 signing periods:

Excess of Pool Penalty (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)
• 0-5% 75% tax

• 5-10% 75% tax and loss of right to provide more than one player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $500,000.

• 10-15% 100% tax and loss of right to provide any player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $500,0000.

• 15%+ 100% tax and loss of right to provide any player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of $250,000.

This tweet basically sums it up:

It really is a shame. Basically, most International prospects who are living in poverty and essentially have one thing that can save them and their families to get out of that poverty is baseball. Baseball is now taking that away as teams will be unable to spend what they used to on amateur talent.

One good thing here is that teams can trade their money in their pool to teams that actually do care about this facet of the business of baseball.

But the one constant throughout these labor agreements is that the MLBPA really did those who are not yet in their club any favors.

Commencing in Spring Training 2012, all players will be subject to hGH blood testing for reasonable cause at all times during the year. In addition, during each year, all players will be tested during Spring Training. Starting with the 2012-2013 off-season, players will be subject to random unannounced testing for hGH.

That’s cool.

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