With a few hours to spare, they got it done.
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association verbally came to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday night, beating the midnight deadline at which the old CBA was set to expire.
The deal, which has not yet been officially announced, is expected to be for five years, extending the streak of prolonged labor peace – which began in 1996 – to 2021. According to Bob Nightengale, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is scheduled to brief owners regarding details of the agreement Thursday; owners and players must still ratify the deal.
Draft-pick compensation for free agents and the implementation of an international draft were among the most contentious topics requiring consideration in the new CBA. The MLBPA saw the current qualifying offer system as a considerable detriment to players who had accrued the required six years of service time for free agency, yet consistently saw their markets soured by draft-pick compensation attached to their services.
For small market teams, however, it’s a competitive balance issue. Teams who lose marquee free agents would suffer from the removal of some form of compensation from the team who signs them. According to Jon Heyman, the new CBA will still include compensation for teams who lose qualifying players to free agency, but the price will no longer be a first-round pick.
According to Jayson Stark, teams with payroll in excess of the luxury tax threshold would forfeit second and fifth round picks after signing qualifying free agents. These clubs would also lose $1 million in international bonus money, according to Ken Rosenthal. In an attempt to assuage competitive balance concerns, teams with payrolls below the luxury tax threshold will reportedly only surrender a third-round pick. These changes should incentive teams to more freely pursue qualifying free agents who, in the past, have sometimes gone unsigned until late in the offseason.
Another significant change includes limiting the compensation picks depending on the value of the contract the qualifying player signs, according to Ken Rosenthal.
Team that loses QO free agent will get pick only if player signs contract of $50M+. Pick it gets will depend upon that team’s market size.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 1, 2016
The alterations, however, will not go into effect until the 2017-2018 offseason. Terms for draft-pick compensation from the previous CBA will apply this winter for players like Dexter Fowler, in whom the Cardinals are rumored to have interest.
Compared to the previous system, the new terms seem to slant in favor of wealthier clubs, as the gap between the penalty for high payrolls and the benefit from free agent compensation appears to be narrowing. As for the luxury tax threshold, it is expected to gradually increase over the life of the new CBA. At $189 million this year, the threshold will increase to $195 million in 2017, and continuing increasing each year until it reaches $210 million in the final year of the deal, 2021.
The international draft – a concept both sides in the negotiations found potentially favorable, but international amateur prospects vehemently opposed – was not implemented under the new CBA. Instead, Heyman reports, international spending will be capped at $5-6 million per year.
Roster size was another element many expected to change under the new agreement, but it will reportedly remain the same. Talks of expanding the 25-man roster with a ‘healthy scratch’ option while limiting September call-ups were tabled for this round of negotiations.
More details will emerge as the deal is finalized, but with the new CBA intact, the Winter Meetings in D.C. next week should include a flurry of player movement. This could be the week the Cardinals clarify their roster for the upcoming season, as the club could enact minor tweaks or sweeping changes.
St. Louis enters the week with its primary area of focus in improving the outfield. Though players like Fowler and Carlos Gomez remain options in free agency, the Cardinals have ample firepower to improve their roster through the trade market. With numerous players like Jaime Garcia, Michael Wacha and Jhonny Peralta rumored to be on the trade block, the Cardinals roster could look radically different by the end of next week.
Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.