Some thoughts on the new CBA
Well, first off, it means that baseball is changing. A lot. While the new, five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement ensures things will remain constant with regards to labor peace for at least 21 straight years, it means a lot of things about the game we know and love will now be different.
Here are some thoughts …
* Astros fans may not like it much, but their move to the American League West makes plenty of sense — it creates those six five-team divisions, gives them that natural rivalry with Texas and creates an avenue for the additional Wild Card teams.
* I love the additional Wild Card teams, but as I’ve said before, I’d prefer that it be a best-of-three scenario between the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds, not simply a one-game elimination.
* I don’t mind Interleague Games being played all year long. Interleague play has lost its luster through the years — like all things that grow old — so no biggie. It’ll be interesting to see how they shape the schedule, though. If you’re going to make winning your division more meaningful, you ought to give teams more games against their division rivals.
* I’m still trying to get my head around the elimination of Type A and Type B free-agent status. It seems this greatly benefits those middle-tier free agents, who end up being classified as A or B without having really earned the distinction. Teams will now be less willing to offer them a deal — in this case, the average of the 125 highest-paid players in baseball — in order to get Draft picks, and they’d have more suitors. Wouldn’t make much difference for the big-name FAs, though.
* The players won in a lot of ways here. There will be a lot more Super IIs, and the Major League and Minor League averages continue to rise.
* But it’s not a good time to be an amateur ballplayer. The signing deadline is now a lot earlier (some point between July 12 and 18, instead of Aug. 15), and there is now a cap on spending on the First-Year Player Draft and the international pool.
* MLB and the MLB Players Association continues to seek competitive balance, and a lot of this CBA promotes that — including the new “competitive balance lottery,” where clubs with the lowest revenues and smallest markets have a chance to obtain additional draft picks. But competitive balance certainly isn’t promoted with regards to spending caps in the draft. Over-spending on the Draft is how teams like the Pirates and Nationals have been trying to make themselves better, not teams like the Yankees and Red Sox. If there was a spending cap, and an earlier deadline, you think the Nats have Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper right now?
* HGH testing, bans on smokeless tobacco and several other mandates — all signs of players and owners being on the same page.