Yankees, Mets, trade rumors, free agents, off-the-wall predictions and other MLB musings.
The new CBA, Mariano Rivera's vocal cords and tonight's arbitration deadline
The word I used in my news story, to describe the number of changes, was "dizzying." There was so much stuff that I feltl ike I couldn't cover all of it, even in two newspaper stories.
So that's why we have the blog, which I'd like to use this morning as a supplement to the news story and column. Here are some additional thoughts - more depth on subjects I did cover and some items I didn't get to at all.
1. Draft compensation. It's going to be much more simple, starting next year, but there's also going to be some additional intrigue, in some cases.
The way it'll work is that all free agents - no more Type A or Type B - will be offered a one-year contract for a salary that is the average of the top 125 salaries in the game. This year, that figure would've been around $12.5 million.
For most free agents, teams will say, quickly, "Nah." For others - Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson this year, for instance - teams will quickly say yes.
The intrigue comes with someone like, let's say, Nick Swisher next year, as my friend Joel Sherman of the New York Post pointed out yesterday when we were conversing with Michael Weiner. If Swisher's 2012 is similar to his first three Yankees seasons, then the Yankees, given their resources, will probably say, "Sure, we'll offer him a one-year contract for $13-ish million." And then Swisher - a very good player, but not a great one - will see his value dragged down by the attachment of the draft compensation.
If we were to look at last year, the Yankees did not offer Derek Jeter compensation because they didn't want him accepting it and giving himself leverage for an enormous, one-year take of well over $20 million. Under this new system? They absolutely would have offered him the one-year deal for $12.5 mil. That would have further diluted Jeter's value to other teams, which already was low.
The other component that interests me is that teams losing free agents will no longer draft directly in place of the team that signs them. For instance, if Reyes signs with Florida, then the Mets will get the Marlins' second-round pick (ninth in the round) in 2012 as well as a selection in the sandwich round between the first and second rounds. That's because Florida's first-round pick, ninth overall, is protected by the rules of the old CBA.
Under the new rules, in this scenario, Florida would retain its ninth overall pick and would forfeit its second-round pick. The pick would just disappear. The Mets would receive one compensation pick, rather than two.
That pick would come in the new "sandwich" round. The order of the sandwich round used to be (and will be, for '12) determined by the quality of the player that has been lost. In other words, if St. Louis lost Pujols, then it would get the first pick in the sandiwch round. Now, that order will be determined by the record of the team that lost the free agent. If the Mets lose Reyes and Milwaukee loses Fielder under the new rules, then the Mets would draft in front of the Brewers, because the Mets would've had the inferior record.
Got all that?
Oh, and one more thing with draft compensation: The July trading deadline will feel some reverberations, too. When you were acquiring an impending free agent, you did so knowing that you were getting not only the talent for two months, but also the compensatory draft picks if the player wound up signing elsewhere for the subsequent season. That factored into how much you gave up for the player.
Now? Only free agents who spend their walk year with one team will be subject to draft compensation..Teams looking for midseason help, when determining what they're willing to give up, can think only of the short-term benefits. There won't be any long-term benefits.
As it turns out, we saw a test case of this last year, when San Francisco gave highly regarded Zack Wheeler to the Mets for Carlos Beltran - even though Beltran couldn't be offered arbitration. So it certainly won't shut down July. But the Giants are a particularly aggressive team. I bet others proceed with more caution.
2. "Reasonable cause" for HGH testing. Both Weiner and MLB's chief negotiator Rob Manfred stressed that reasonable cause has long been part of the CBA. Both sides have to agree to what constitues reasonable cause, and an independent party settles any disputes on this matter.
Nevertheless, it gained attention because they put it in the press release. Weiner stressed that the threshold would be very high for this. It wouldn't be, "Hey, Player A looks much more muscular this spring. Let's test him!" it would be something more like the Jason Grimsley case, when the former reliever was caught receiving a shipment of HGH.
3. Expansion of rosters for doubleheaders. Any doubleheader that is played with more than a day's notice will feature 26-man rosters.
So if a West Coast team plays at an East Coast team in April, and the Wednesday night game is rained out, and there's no better option than holding a doubleheader on Thursday because the West Coast team isn't scheduled to return? No 26th player, because - the thinking is - the West Coast team wouldn't have time to get the extra player there in time.
With all other scenarios? You'll see a 26th player.
Overall, I can't give the agreement very high marks, just because I think the spending limits on the draft and international talent are driven solely by owners' greed and lack of self-discipline and can only hurt the sport.
But what's fascinating to me is that the two sides get along so well now that they could really tackle a lot of ground. Get into some of these minor details which would've been left untouched in prior agreements because they'd be fighting over the larger items.
--Odd story about Mariano Rivera, who says he's concerned about his vocal cords. We'll see if more information comes out today.
--Midnight tonight is the deadline for teams to offer their Type A and Type B free agents. As you can see here at MLB Trade Rumors, many of those free agents have seen their status change as a result of collective bargaining. None of those free agents are Yankees or Mets.
Here in New York, the Mets will obviously offer Reyes arbitration, and he'll obviously turn it down. The Yankees, meanwhile, figure to offer Freddy Garcia arbitration, and it's not inconceivable that Garcia will accept. Arbitration would lock him in to a nice raise from last year's salary of $3.35 million, and I'm not sure he'll be getting multi-year offers from any club.
--Check back later for a giveaway contest.