Baseball now has a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in place for the next five seasons. And there are a number of changes in the new CBA that could have a big impact on the Rays, and most are negative. Let’s take a look…
More Wild Card Teams
Each league will now have two Wild Card teams (although this might not start until 2013), that will compete against each other in a one-game, win-or-go-home playoff game for the right to face one of division winners.
Adding a Wild Card team now means as many as three teams from one division can make the playoffs. That’s good news if you are playing in the same division as the Red Sox and Yankees. But it also means the Rays season could be over sooner if they don’t win the division. Most big payroll clubs are better suited for one-game playoffs as they almost always have at least one $20 million super-pitcher.
Typically players become eligible for arbitration after three years. However, a small group becomes eligible if they are close to the three-year mark. These guys are called Super-Twos. And whenever the Rays wait until June or later to promote a player, it is often because they are trying to avoid Super-Two status down the road.
Well, now more players will be eligible for Super-Two status. That means the date for promoting players and avoiding the Super-Two label will be even later in the year, possibly as late as August.
So, will the Rays just say “screw it” and promote their top prospects earlier in the year, or will they wait until the end of the season now? Our heart wants the former, but our gut says the latter. And in hindsight, the Rays may have known this was coming, and that is why Desmond Jennings was called up so late this season.
Free Agent Compensation
Remember this past summer when the Rays had 12 of the first 89 picks in the draft? Well, that is not going to happen again as the compensation system has been almost entirely eliminated except for the most elite free agents (starting next winter).
In addition, even elite free agents won’t have compensation if they are traded during the season prior to free agency. So there is even less hope for the Rays trading for a superstar during the season, as there will no longer be two draft picks coming with that player.
Limits on Draft Spending
All teams will now have a limit on the amount of bonus money they can give to draft picks each year. Teams that pick higher in the first round will be allowed to spend more than teams picking later in the first round. If a team goes over budget, there is a heavy tax and the possibility that they will lose draft picks.
This one could really hurt the Rays who like to over-spend in the draft. This is especially true after the first round where they can entice high schoolers to forgo their college scholarship. After all, overspending in the draft is a lot cheaper than overspending in free agency. So now, the top players in the draft may end up in the hands of the big budget teams more than ever as those teams won’t fear the tax.
There won’t be a tax on teams falling below a salary-floor, but there are now stricter limits on exactly how teams can spend their revenue-sharing money (e.g. money can’t be used to pay off debts). Also, teams must now provide more specific details on how the money is being spent. In other words, gone are the days of teams receiving revenue-sharing and just sticking it in their pocket.
More importantly for the Rays, a team’s payroll must be 25 percent higher than the amount of revenue sharing received. This could potentially impact the Rays in some years. If the Rays revenue-sharing take is $35 million (a rough estimate), their payroll would have to be at least $44 million. Last year it was $41.9 million.
Also, teams can only receive revenue-sharing if they are one of the 15 smallest markets. The Rays are safe here.
Replay will now be used to determine if a ball was fair or foul and also to determine if a player caught a ball. This will hurt Rays fans simply because that means fewer animated and entertaining arguments by Joe Maddon. We’ll miss those.
Teams may soon start scheduling double-headers as a way to shorten the season and keep the World Series out of November. And as a result, teams will be allowed to add one player to the active roster for double-headers. This will be a welcome relief for the Rays who often have to play roster roulette in order to work in a starting pitcher from the minors.
- No international draft, and a limit on bonuses for international players.
- No more major league contracts for draft picks. This was used by the teams to spread out the money spent on a draft pick and by the players as a quicker route to the big leagues (uses up minor league options sooner).
- Player are now required to attend the All-Star game unless injured.
- There is now HGH testing, although it sounds pretty weak (requires just cause).