MLB's New CBA Is Finalized, Meets Mixed Bag Reaction

Baseball's new CBA was just announced Tuesday afternoon, and some of the new changes have fans up in arms.

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Baseball's New CBA Makes Life Difficult For Rays, Small-Market Teams

Major League Baseball and the MLBPA just announced the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) at 1pm, and there’s been a large amount of outrage on Twitter about the details of the plan. The full list of things the CBA includes is too long for me to include here – check out MLBTR for that – but there are some details to the plan that should specifically impact small-market teams like the Tampa Bay Rays.

For starters, there will be a significant tax placed on the MLB draft. If a team pays its draftees 5% or more than what MLB says they should be spending for those players — i.e. going overslot — then that team will be hit with the tax. Here’s the breakdown on the penalties:

Teams that spend more than 5% over-slot on the draft will face a 75% tax, according to Passan (all Twitter links). Teams that go over slot by 5-10% face a 75% tax and the loss of a first rounder. Teams that go over slot by 10-15% face a 100% tax and the loss of a first and second rounder. Teams that exceed slot by 15% or more face a 100% tax and the loss of two first rounders. (MLBTR, with original information from Jeff Passan)

As a part of this change to the draft, new draftees will only be able to sign minor-league deals. This further eliminates the amount of money and benefits that draftees can receive. There will also be a hard cap placed on international signings, set somewhere between one and five million dollars depending on the year.

All of these rules are expected to shrink the amount of amateur talent coming into MLB via the draft. If a top athlete has a choice between getting drafted by the Rays or the Buccaneers, why would they choose the path that offers less money and no major league contract? This will likely reduce the high-end talent available in the draft, which will have a trickle down effect on the teams picking lower in the draft.

In other words, not much changes for the Rays. They have never been big spenders on the draft, so these rules changes mostly mean that they will simply have to been better than ever at evaluating young talent. There will be weaker pools of amateur talent, so the Rays' margin for error just got even smaller.

To look on the bright side, though, these rule changes also mean that large market teams like the Yankees and Rangers can’t rake in talent through the draft and international market merely by outspending everyone else. By essentially forcing teams to pay slot money for draftees, they are preventing the Yankees from going overslot without hurting themselves in the draft in future years.

In the end, it all depends on how much these rules affect the depth of talent available in the draft. If there is little to no dropoff, then small-market teams should view this as a win since it puts large-market teams on the same footing as them. If there is a large dropoff in talent, though, then this change will make things considerably more difficult for small-market teams to climb out of the cellar.

How exactly will things break? Will this new system be as detrimental as many people expect? Well, we have five whole years to find out.

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Bud Selig: Two Wild Card Teams To Be Added In 2012

After finally approving the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane — part of the deal involving the Astros moving to the AL — baseball’s owners could move on to another important topic: the playoffs and competitive balance.

Baseball has struggled with the issue of competitive balance for years, and the recent surge by the Tampa Bay Rays has caused a big problem. With only one Wild Card spot per league, the Rays have been stuck in an unenviable situation; they must somehow outperform one of the Yankees or Red Sox on a yearly basis in order to make the playoffs. It doesn’t matter if they finish with more wins than the division leaders in both the AL Central and West; there are only two possible slots for the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, giving the Rays the herculean task of slaying Goliath not once, not twice, but every single year.

In order to ameliorate the situation, Bud Selig announced today that baseball would be adding one more Wild Card team per league, hopefully as soon as in 2012. The two Wild Card teams for the league would then face each other in a one game playoff, and the winner would go on to the playoffs like normal. This gives division winners a clear advantage in the playoffs, but it also provides the Rays with an alternative route into the playoffs. The change should also add an extra dose of excitement to the end of the season, as more teams can potentially be in the race for the playoffs.

For more on this change, see Baseball Nation and DRaysBay.

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Houston Astros Sale Finalized, Moving To AL After 2012

It's official. The Houston Astros are moving to the American League after the 2012 season, requiring more interleague play.

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