UPDATE: MLB will announce the terms of the new CBA on Tuesday, rather than Monday.
Per Ken Rosenthal on Twitter, news of some of the terms of the agreement on free agent compensation are:
Source: Top Type As - Pujols, Fielder, Reyes, plus former MVPs Ortiz, Rollins and others - still will carry draft-pick compensation this year. All remaining Type A relievers - Madson, K-Rod, Bell - will NOT be subject to draft-pick compensation this off-season. Teams that sign those relievers, and certain other Type As, will not forfeit picks. Teams that lose those players will still get them.
New rules take effect next winter. Elias rankings gone. Top FAs subject to comp if teams make them qualifying offers north of $12M per year. To those asking whether
#Phillies will still lose their first-round pick for signing Papelbon, the answer is YES. #Phillies, however, still stand to gain top picks if they lose Madson and Rollins
On Monday, Major League Baseball will have a big announcement to make. I’m not talking about Justin Verlander being named the American League’s Most Valuable Player, although that would be much bigger news than anything I’m writing about here. The terms of a new agreement between Major League Baseball (MLB, the owners) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) will be officially announced on Monday, and there will be some significant changes. Quite a few of those have bee floated by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal already.
What impact will these changes have on the Detroit Tigers?
First and foremost, just reaching an agreement is good news. This collective bargaining agreement (CBA) will be a five year deal, and by the time it has run its course, we will have had over two decades of labor peace in Major League Baseball. Twenty-one years without a strike or a lockout. The two sides are smart enough to see what the last major work stoppage did to the game, how it took years for fans to come back to baseball, and now they are all reaping the rewards of an enterprise that is growing and thriving. Attendance is up every year, ratings are up, profits and salaries are on the rise.
Beyond that, the big change is that the Houston Astros are moving to the American League West Division, most likely in 2013, giving each league three divisions of five teams each. The owners approved the sale of the Astros on Thursday, and part of the agreement is that Houston moves to the Junior Circuit. Not only does this mean that the Tigers have a new opponent in their league that they will play between six and twelve times per year, but it also means that there will be some interleague play all season long. The odd number of teams in each league (15) guarantees that. The new schedule will have more balance, with teams in each division playing the same opponents each season.
There could be an increase in the number of interleague games from the current 18 per season up to 30 per year, which would mean 15 games per season in national league parks, instead of just nine. The Tigers will have to get creative to keep Victor Martinez, Alex Avila, and Miguel Cabrera in the same lineup for those 15 games. If teams continue playing each division opponent 18 games per year, that would reduce the number of Tiger games vs other American league teams in the east and west divisions to just six per season. This change would also begin in 2013.
The MLB will also formally announce that they are adding one wildcard team to the playoff format in each league, meaning that five teams in each league will qualify for the playoffs. The Tigers, along with every other team, will have increased odds of making the playoffs in a given season. The two wildcard teams will have a one-game playoff. This is actually not a "play in" because this is part of the playoffs, rather than the regular season. The added playoff team figures to make more games meaningful in September.
The new playoff format will mean that winning a division becomes that much more important, as division winners essentially have a bye in this first one-game round. Since the wildcard teams are likely to try to set up their ace pitchers to start the one game do-or-die playoff game, they may only be available for one game of the five game division series, giving a further advantage to the division winners. The new format could begin as soon as 2012.
There will also be changes to the compensation system for teams that sign and lose free agent players. The details of the changes are not clear, but from what has been reported, it is likely there will be fewer players who will be classified as "Type A" free agents, requiring their new clubs to surrender a draft pick to sign them. Clubs that lose Type A players will still be compensated, probably with a supplemental first round draft pick. There may also be fewer "Type B" players that will bring their former clubs any compensation. It is thought these changes will begin immediately, but some sources have said this will not begin until next fall.
The Tigers have to be rooting for this change to begin immediately. That would mean that Kelly Johnson (stats) Toronto’s free agent second baseman who was classified as a Type A free agent, could likely be signed without the team having to give up it’s first-round draft choice. Other free agents who could be on the Type A bubble would include outfielders Josh Willingham and Michael Cuddyer, pItcher Roy Oswalt, and relief pitchers Octavio Dotel and Matt Capps. Only the "elite" free agents, if any, will require their new clubs to surrender a draft choice to sign them.
The Tigers may lose the possibility of receiving compensation for their Type B free agent players, Magglio Ordonez and Wilson Betemit. The Tigers may not have offered arbitration to either player in any case, so this may not matter. Again, the details of the new compensation system have yet to be announced, but we do know that changes are coming, and they may apply to the current free agents, and to the June, 2013 draft. Just having a clear set of compensation rules should spur some activity on the free agent market.
Some other changes are expected in the areas of the "competitive balance tax" also known as the "luxury tax" that wealthier clubs pay for exceeding a "soft" salary cap. Only one or two clubs per season have paid that tax under the current agreement. The Tigers paid a luxury tax in 2008.
Selig will apparently not get the "hard slotting" system which would set a fixed bonus for each player drafted, but there will be an overall spending cap on bonuses given to drafted players and possibly on international free agents. "Slotting" was being sold by the owners as a way to reign in spending by wealthier clubs, but the players weren’t buying that idea. Many clubs in smaller markets have relied on spending in the draft as a way to build their teams, since they can not compete with wealthier clubs on the free agent market. This issue was the biggest point of contention in the latest round of bargaining.
Regardless of the details of the terms in the new CBA, which I will update as they are announced, Tiger fans and baseball fans everywhere can rejoice in the fact that there will be baseball, without interruption, for another five seasons.