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.

Super-Two Arbitration

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.

Revenue Sharing

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.

More Replay

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).


  1. Matt says:

    Wow, these new rules really will hurt the Rays. I do like the double header rule as we can get those young pitchers in there easier and the revenue sharing 25% rule means that we have to spend more, but otherwise these new rules hurt the philosophy the Rays have had.

  2. Dustin says:

    The new draft and compensation rules seem designed to reduce competitive balance, and that seems crazy. What is the rationale behind the changes?

    • ttnorm says:

      I think you have been reading too much of the guys who carry Scott Boras' water (Callis, KLaw, etc.). The new draft rules hurt the Red Sox far worse than the Rays. The TBR Front Office will adapt and be fine.

    • ttnorm says:

      The rationale is to decrease the leverage that the draftees possess. This will make it a bit more likely that the teams picking first will actually get the best talent. The extra picks for the small market teams do as well. The big market teams have always had the ability to outspend the small market teams and the Red Sox routinely outspend the Rays.

      The new rules will help the ability of the lower teams to outdraft the better it should be.

      • Dustin says:

        Duly noted that the Rays and other small-market teams are not the only ones spending money on the draft ( It is also worth noting that the ratio of spending on the draft versus payroll or free-agency would, obviously, favor the big-market teams in a big way.

        The point, I think, is that small-market teams like the Rays have been willing to (perhaps) over-pay for talent in the draft because they know that doing so is generally cheaper than over-paying on the free-agent market. A team can, or rather could, offer a signing bonus of a couple million dollars over slot without breaking the team's overall budget. With good scouting and number-crunching, this was--or so the thinking goes--a way for teams with budgetary constraints to gain a competitive advantage against teams with deeper pockets.

        Never having been a baseball executive myself, I can't speak with any real authority on the subject, but the analysis presented here ( as well as in the above blog-post seems plausible to me. I'm not sure how or why that means I'm carrying water for Boras or KLaw or Jim Callis. I'm also not sure why you'd suggest that doubts about the changes to the CBA means, ipso facto, support for Boras or his clients, other than a desire to make a rather feeble ad hominem argument.

        Here's how things seem to me. The Rays have built an inexpensive and competitive team in large part because they've drafted and developed good players. The new caps on spending for draft picks--to say nothing of the changes to the free-agent compensation rules--impede the Rays' ability to continue to do this. The changes may not hurt the Rays in the long run, but they will force the Rays to adjust. Adjustments usually take time and entail making mistakes. The Rays, as a small market team, deal with limited windows of opportunity and cannot afford to make many mistakes. As such, it is difficult to imagine that these changes to the CBA won't hurt the Rays in at least the short-to-medium term.

        I'm not sure how the new rules "will help the ability of the lower teams to outdraft the better teams." (Additionally, it's not really clear what you mean here by "lower," "better," or "outdraft.") A number of monetarily constrained teams have, for several years, been overspending (relative to the suggested caps) on draft picks in order to lock up talent they'd never be able to afford on the free agent market. And several of these teams have significant personnel improvements to show for it. Now, with draconian penalties instituted to punish teams that "overpay" for draft picks, this strategy is no longer viable. Can you clarify how, exactly, this helps small-market teams?

        • Joe says:


          You make good points, but let me throw this out there to you. In golf, the best golf courses make you play every club in your bag. To build a championship level club, you got to build your team with ALL means possible, i.e. trades, Rule V, draft AND free agency. Now, yes, you will argue the Rays do get free agents, but they are getting that second tier or third tier rebound/castoff type, and admittedly, they do have a fair record with those. You can't do it all or put all your eggs in one basket. I contend that the Rays aren't a player in the free agent market, they are telling their players we won't compete to keep you.

          I just think there is a stigma here, and its sticking, and the players themselves know it. Hey, I am not raining on the Rays' front office parade, but I am trying to illustrate that you have to be able and willing to take risks and bite the bullet at times.

        • ttnorm says:

          I agree with Joe. You make some very good points.

          A few things, I never said that you are carrying Boras' water. I said that Callis and Law do. That is to be expected. They need to side with Boras and the other agents in these matters to get their inside info. They tick Boras off then suddenly Boras and all of his players don't take their calls. They have no such worries about ticking off Selig because the owners know that the players are the story and every bit of press is $$$ in their pockets. The owners can not shut out the media without shooting themselves in the foot.

          The big market teams all have the ability to outspend the Rays in all areas including the draft. It is not blind negligence which causes some to not do so - in spite of what you read at FanGraphs. It is pretty funny to read over there - you would think that every one of them would be a better general manager than Ken Williams and Jerry Dipoto.

          You make an excellent point that the Rays have to play the draft lottery because that have not reasonable way to play the FA lottery. You are not crediting the obvious point that with leverage removed from the draftees and the extra picks to the bottom teams, the better amateur players are now more likely to sign with the weakest teams - as it should be.

          You are also missing out big on what the Rays can score on - that is the internationals. They Rays have never gone pricy on the internationals in spite of doing some great scouting work in the area. Now, with the Intl cap, there is a much better chance that the Rays can land a top guy than ever before. This should be cause for optimism.

          If you are a Rays fan, you will see what you have always see. The Rays front office will adapt to the new rules and then do what they do. Or you can sip the Fan Graphs Kool Aid and declare that the new rules make it impossible for small market teams to compete even when in the big picture, this is a rather small item.

  3. Ken says:

    I read somewhere else that "ALL" players on each team plus player invites will be HGH tested during ST in 2012. Then starting in the spring of 2013 there will be random testing along with testing for "just cause". Is that not true? I read the players were in favor of this because they wanted an even playing field and wanted to improve their PR with the fans. MLB is saying they are the first major sport in North America to have full HGH testing (since the NFL still has not performed any tests even though it is in their most recent CBA).

    • Ken says:

      On the website, The Biz of baseball, they are saying this about the new CBA.....


      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. The

      parties have also agreed on a process to jointly study the possibility of expanding blood testing to include inseason


  4. Joe says:

    So, we all know that we need certain peices like a 1B, DH a RP or 2 but the top priority, to me, anyway was making sure Matt Moore made the team out of ST and this new Super Two stuff does not make that likely. So yeah, I think the guy who was making his 2nd career start and it was in the playoffs where he went 7 shutout innings allowing 2 hits, I think that dude is going to Durham.

  5. Ryan says:

    I disagree on many aspects of this negative post on how it negativley effects the rays

    More wild card teams is good for the rays and will make the regular season more interesting for many teams

    Free Agent Compensation. you forgot to mention the part of how the small market teams will get an automatic entry into a compensation lottery to make up for it. Also the compensation for traded free agent was always already regarded for while making the trade. which means the trading price of those free agents will go down which overall wont hurt the chances of the rays making a trade.

    Limits on Draft Spending.
    The standards and expectations of rookies will go down as well and so will the overall spending and spending requirements so this shouldn't effect the rays, will just allow them to spend less...

    More replay is always good to keep the game fair and competitively decided by the players on the field and not the umpires

    • Drew says:

      In no way does the lottery draft pick system help the rays in the near future. Read the "Competitive Balance Lottery" section of this
      Loading up on draft picks in the first 2-3 rounds is no longer a possibility, even if we have a poor winning percentage in the previous season.

  6. Joe says:

    Is Tampa Bay one of the smallest 15 markets? If by television market, its a top 12-15 market, not a bottom half. Is "market" based off of television? I believe most metrics has Tampa Bay in the top half, not bottom half

    Can this be explained a little further?

  7. Rome says:

    The extra playoff almost guarantees Boston and New York every year in the playoffs. Imagine it this way: Boston would have made the playoff this year. The only drama would have been could the Angels have caught the Rays for the last playoff spot? In '10 the Red Sox would have been been in the playoff as well as the Yankees in '08. Let's not call this a victory for the little guy, rather than a doorway big enough for a fat cat to walk in.

  8. Joe says:

    Rome, you are DEAD ON.....

    This is the issue and will remain an issue, MLB has a horrible perception problem and they refuse to really address it. You have a chance for a balanced schedule which will take the weight of the heavyweights of the AL East and distribute that pressure equally amongst the Central and West and some of Interleague, but NOOOOOOOOO, STU AND BUD want THEIR REVENUES!!!!!!! A balanced schedule is the only artificial way to ensure the percentages of playing with perennial powers are distributed out of the equation.

    I will ask this too, why is winning the AL East more difficult than winning the World Series? This is a loaded question, but one that may have many different answers, including full disagreement. But the fact remains, you tell me the next time you will have the following standings in the East: 1) Baltimore, 2) Toronto, 3) Tampa Bay, 4) Boston, 5) New York.....If these were EVER the final standings, Bud or whoever the Commissioner is would hemorrhage instead of CELEBRATING TRUE BALANCE.

    I find the Jayson Starks of the world to be a complete joke and asinine. As it stands, whenever the Rays succeed to me still its nothing short of a miracle. But besides of obvious inpetitiude and some bad luck, why can't Baltimore and Toronto make the next step? Pittsburgh and Kansas City appear to be in that rut, and Oakland has jumped into the "revenue abyss" artificially because Bud told Lew Wolff to pocket his money.

    MLB is the biggest joke with morons who spew baloney to spread falsehoods. Yet I love the sports passionately. I am not a fan of propaganda and lies when I can see that like in most things in life, you are only restricted by your own ambition.

    I wish I had a national forum where I could drop some intellectual pipe bombs on some media honks who drive home pure lies about MLB REVENUES and what teams like the Rays do with it and REFUSE to even ACKNOWLEDGE free agency. (Yes, I know the Rays struck out with Pat Burrell, but to me those are necessary and controlled risks that are the part of doing standard MLB business). It's a shame on so many levels.

    To all, a VERY Happy Thanksgiving. I am sure I will be back later to debate and show my love of Tampa Bay 🙂 My best!!

    • Rob says:

      Baltimore won't win as long as Angelos runs the team the way he does. No amount of luck can override the systemic problems of that once proud organization.

      Would you rather have the dopes in the NBA running things? They don't have many problems yet they're having another lock out. That's who the media should me blasting.


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