The big news from yesterday was that Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association agreed to a new, five year collective bargaining agreement. All baseball fans should be thankful that the process went smoothly and quietly, and that the sport did not suffer the same fate as the NFL, NBA and NHL all have recently. Still, the new CBA has its good points and bad points, many of which impact the Mets. With that, here is a brief summary of how the major elements of the new CBA will impact the Amazins (details on the new CBA can be found on MetsBlog, which summarized the CBA here, and ESPN New York, which printed the actual press release here).
As I wrote back in July, an expanded playoff system benefits everybody. With more teams getting a shot at the playoffs, teams will be in the postseason hunt further into the season. As a result, fans should stay more interested and hopefully watch more games in person and on TV, leading to increased revenue. While it’s true that the end of the 2011 regular season was phenomenal and a result of the old playoff system, this type of thing doesn’t happen every year. More teams fighting for that extra spot will generate plenty of excitement, in addition to the one game playoff between the two wild card teams. Anything that will give the Amazins a better chance to make the playoffs is fine with me.
Realignment and Scheduling
In 2013, the Houston Astros, who entered the National League the same time as the Mets, will relocate to the American League West, creating two fifteen team leagues, each with three divisions of five teams. Exact scheduling details haven’t been released yet, but it is known that interleague games will be sprinkled throughout the schedule as opposed to during a specific month. This change doesn’t mean a lot until it is decided if teams will play a balanced schedule. If so, then that is in the Mets favor, since it would mean fewer games against the Phillies and Braves.
No More Elias Rankings
Fortunately, the elimination of Type A free agents won’t occur until next offseason, meaning the Mets can receive compensation if Jose Reyes signs elsewhere. This change makes sense because the rankings were arbitrary, and instead, a new system (detailed in the links above) will be put in place, in which teams are only compensated if they offer its free agent a “one-year contract with a salary equal to the average salary of the 125-highest paid Players from the prior season.” As a result, there will be less compensation (fewer teams will want to take the risk), which should help the Mets when they are able to spend money on big-name free agents again (it would’ve surely helped the Omar Minaya regime). Another important change is that “Only Players who have been with their Clubs for the entire season will be subject to compensation,” preventing another Billy Wagner ’09 situation.
This area is where the CBA most hurts the Mets. Essentially, teams face a restriction on how much they can spend on draft picks before being penalized, either with a tax or a tax and loss of draft picks, possibly for two seasons if a team really spends over-slot. This change wouldn’t really have impacted the Mets in past years. However, now there is a front office in place that understands the importance of signing draft picks, which sometimes requires going over-slot. The $6.425 million spent by the Mets on the 2011 draft class was the most in recent franchise history, but now spending this much money might cost the Mets some additional dough, or worse, draft picks. It seems like teams will get penalized for trying to rebuild through the draft, with teams that don’t overspend getting a chance to receive additional revenue and/or draft picks through a “Competitive Balance Lottery.” The new rules also provide less incentive for younger amateur players to enter the draft, since teams won’t be able to spend as much without being penalized.
Like the draft, international spending received an overhaul as well. Each team will be receive a Signing Bonus Pool, which will all be equal during the 2012-13 signing period and then adjusted in future seasons based on winning percentage (the teams with the worst records will receive the largest pool). Also like the draft, teams will be penalized, either through a tax or a tax and a restriction on spending during the following season. Recently, the Mets have been big players in the international market, signing talent such as Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores and Fernando Martinez. These restrictions will hinder the team’s ability to spend on international players.
New Deadline to Sign Draft Picks
The new deadline to sign draft picks will be moved from August up to mid-July (depending on the date of All Star game). This move benefits everyone: teams get more of a chance to evaluate players in the year that they are drafted while players get a chance to play and develop their skills. In 2010, Matt Harvey signed at the deadline and didn’t get to pitch for the organization at all that year. This past year, Brandon Nimmo signed at the deadline and received 44 plate appearances. It would be interesting to see where each player, along with several others, would be if they had another month or so of minor league experience under their belts.
There are other important points in the new CBA, such as the expansion of instant replay and HGH testing, but the points listed above are the ones that most impact the Mets. Most notably, their effort to rebuild through the draft might be hampered, although that might be slightly augmented by the addition of the second wild card team (think about it: with a second wild card team in 2011, maybe the Mets don’t trade Beltran and make a playoff run?). It might take a few years for the impact to become apparent on the field, but the new CBA will play some role regarding the Mets going forward.