Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed on their new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) this week, which means baseball labor peace will continue uninterrupted through 2021 and the current offseason can really get going. However, there were some changes to the rules, as there usually are with a new CBA, so we should start getting used to them now and thinking about how they might affect the Oakland A’s.
First, here are a couple links for all the info on the new changes:
- MLB Trade Rumors has a great roundup of reports from many of the top national insiders
- Grant Brisbee has things to say
- Jeremy F. Koo on the A’s loss of revenue sharing
- John Shea of the S.F. Chronicle, also on revenue sharing
Following are some of the main points as they pertain to the A’s.
1. A’s lose revenue sharing
For the full story on this, you should read Jeremy’s and Shea’s columns above. The short version is that, over the next four seasons, the A’s will be phased out of receiving revenue sharing. Their parents were sending them money until they could rent a nicer place, but now they’re getting cutting off.
There are all kinds of potential ramifications, but really we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. One positive scenario would be that this serves as a wake-up call and the A’s get a stadium deal hammered out quickly. Indeed, their recent leadership changes make it seem like that’s the result they want too.
2. The 10-day DL
I think this will help the A’s. The likely result of this is teams being a bit quicker to use the DL for a player with a minor bangup, rather than playing with 24 players for eight games while he sits in a day-to-day limbo. The A’s probably rely on their full 25-man roster a bit more than most other AL teams, since they employ platoons and specialists to make up for the star power they usually don’t have. Adding any amount of roster flexibility should give the biggest boost to the teams who rely on creativity.
Furthermore, the A’s tend to be one of the teams who finds ways to exploit the nuances of the system, and so any kind of tweak to the status quo is another chance for them to gain a temporary edge before the rest of the league catches up. That doesn’t mean the A’s will necessarily be the first to break this particular DL rule change, but they will at least have the opportunity to do so.
On the other hand, the new CBA does not include a 26th roster spot, which was one idea being floated. For the same reason, I think that would have helped the A’s.
3. International free agents
Teams will be hard-capped to around $5-6 million per year for spending on young international free agents, more or less (details are still coming in). The exact amount depends on the team’s revenue, so presumably the A’s will generally have a bonus pool on the higher end. They can trade away bonus pool money, but can only acquire up to 75% of their own original pool. In other words, the days of $31 million for 20-year-old Yoan Moncada are gone, though you could see a big contract for an older professional (like when Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Abreu, or Rusney Castillo came over).
This one could go either way, but it seems like it’s slightly negative for Oakland. The A’s have never been afraid to spend in Latin America, and outside of the rare mega-prospect like Moncada who truly breaks the bank they don’t mind splurging a few mill for a top name. Lowering spending caps probably just reduces the opportunity to act like a financial bully in the one arena small enough for the A’s to do so; it levels the part of the playing field where Oakland could afford to act like kings.
On the bright side, the next time a truly special talent comes along, the kind who would have sparked a bidding war between the Dodgers and Red Sox, perhaps the A’s can at least get in the conversation. Other clubs can’t offer more money anymore, but the A’s can still use promises of bigger playing opportunities to sway youngsters.
Of course, none of this matters for the next couple years. The A’s overspent in the current signing period to get Lazarito, among others, and the penalty is essentially sitting out the next two signing periods ($300K cap). That penalty is grandfathered into the new deal, so they won’t be able to truly participate in the new leveled market until July 2019.
4. Qualifying offer system
The unpopular QO system is being watered down, by reducing the draft picks teams lose for signing big free agents. I was in the small minority who didn’t mind the QO and thought it did a decent job, but upon first skim I don’t dislike the new version either. It’s just annoying that it’s so complicated now. I’ll wait until next winter to fully figure it out.
The A’s actually never participated in the QO system. They never issued one, and they never signed a player who had rejected one. They also don’t tend to go big in free agency at all. The only way this will likely affect them is in terms of losing their own big free agent after a season in which they were competitive enough to have not traded him at the deadline.
The situation will be similar to before. If the A’s have a free agent who they don’t think will accept the offer of a big one-year contract (or if they don’t mind bringing him back on such a deal), then offer him a QO. If he signs elsewhere for over $50 million, they get an extra draft pick after the first round, similar to before. If he signs for under that amount, they get a pick after Comp Round B (after the second round).
We’ll find out next winter if the new system results in more QOs being offered or fewer. It could turn out to be more — since it hurts the player less, he’s more likely to reject it, which would make teams more likely to offer it to steal a draft pick. Or it could go the other way — the team has less to gain on those midlevel guys who might only net them a late second-rounder, so they don’t bother risking the offer (or they just trade him at the previous deadline due to the reduced opportunity cost of QOing him, like the A’s already do). Again, though, either way I don’t think it’ll affect the A’s much.
5. Minimum salary goes up
The A’s usually have at least like 10 guys on the minimum salary, and it’s going up by nearly $50K when all is said and done. That means an extra half-million on Oakland’s payroll!
There’s some other stuff — the All-Star Game no longer decides home-field for the World Series, the luxury tax got tweaked, and so did the PED rules. But the big ones are the ones listed above, with more details still emerging as time goes on.
All in all, I suppose you have to call the new CBA a loss when it includes a section that specifically singles you out by name and takes something away from you and only you. That’s, like, pretty harsh, man. Otherwise, the biggest effect might just be the shorter DL stints, which will at least make things more fun by reducing the instance of a 24-man team with a day-to-day injury case on the bench.