Baseball killed the World Series in 1994, but with the signing of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, we are guaranteed 21 years of labor peace. An unheard of stretch in the modern era of the game.
Labor peace is nice, but we’re Royals fans here. We want to know how this version of the CBA affects our team. The short answer: It’s not good. Not good at all.
The most sweeping change that will be discussed has to do with the draft.
Each team will have a bonus pool for the first 10 rounds of the draft. Their bonus will be unique given the number of picks they hold and all picks will be assigned a dollar amount. According to Jeff Passan, the total money that will be in the draft pool for next year will be around $200 million. Baseball has longed for a “hard” slot system. For them, this is the next best thing. And this time, the penalties have some serious teeth.
-0-5% over bonus pool – 75% tax on overage
5-10% – 75% tax on overage and loss of 1st round pick
10-15% – 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st and 2nd round picks
15%+ – 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st round picks in next two drafts
This neuters the Royals and Dayton Moore. Chop!
Baseball likes to talk about their competitive balance (Look! The Yankees didn’t make the World Series!) but the reality has always been an uneven playing field. That’s not to say there aren’t other ways for teams to compete. Tampa has been Exhibit A about how to draft and develop talent (and how to use that talent to add.) Since Dayton Moore arrived, the Royals have become much more savvy about the draft and have certainly used the system to their advantage, frequently going above slot to sign their draft picks.
The new system with the stiff penalties, effectively levels the playing field that has been the draft.
Last year, the Royals top 10 picks were slotted at $4.8 million. The Royals – powered by the $7.5 million bonus paid to Bubba Starling – powered right through that number. By the time the dust settled, they handed out checks to their top 10 picks totaling $11.4 million. They went over slot by just 249%. If the new system had been in place last summer, the Royals obviously would have received the harshest penalty. They would have forfeited their first round picks in 2012 and 2013 and paid a 100% tax on the overage, which would have amounted to a bill of $6.6 million.
Suffice it to say, I don’t think the Royals would have been that aggressive had this system been in place.
By comparison, the Yankees spent a total of $6.3 million, which was about middle of the pack. Why? Obviously, they don’t hold high draft picks, so the extreme cash paid out in the first handful of picks isn’t an issue. But it’s also because they choose to spend their money on free agents and Derek Jeter. That’s how they build their ballclub. And that’s why this system is bad for baseball and bad for the Royals.
The Royals can’t compete on the free agent market with the large market teams. Duh. But under the old system, they were about to outspend and outdraft those same teams through a savvy allocation of resources. Now, with the stiff penalties in place for going over suggested slot, that old advantage is gone.
I thought I had buried the old “David Glass is cheap” meme, but after the cancellation of FanFest, and now this, I’m thinking of bringing it back. Mainly because I see him gleefully accepting this new draft system. Why? Because it benefits his pocketbook. He’s not going to be able to sign that bonus check for $11 million dollars next year because there’s zero chance the Royals go over the collective slot. As an organization, that would be akin to slicing your own throat, given the forfiture of draft picks. Of course we’ll never know who pushed for what, but in my cynical mind, I can just see David Glass cozying up to Bud Selig and having a good laugh at the extra cash now lining our owner’s pocket.
This new draft system just saved the Glass family a whole lot of cabbage.
The byproduct is that it’s handcuffed Dayton Moore and his scouting department. No longer are the Royals going to be able to find premium talent after the first two rounds (thinking Wil Myers) because that talent isn’t going to fall to them. And even then, if they do fall, because of the “pool” there’s now more incentive to head to college. No way around it… This is just an atrocious system for the Royals.
One thing I don’t buy is that this new system will chase talent to other sports – specifically football and basketball. If this system had been in place last summer, would Bubba Starling be at the University of Nebraska right now? I suppose. But baseball has been hemmoraging talent to football and basketball for decades. As great as Starling’s signing bonus was for him, he’s now going to be riding buses to the small towns spread throughout the Midwest League, Pioneer League or wherever he begins his professional career. A $7.5 million bonus doesn’t mean much to the citizenry of Idaho Falls. By contrast, had he gone to Nebraska, he would have been treated like a rock star and if everything had gone right, he’d be suiting up on Sunday afternoons in about four years. There aren’t any minor leagues or bus rides or ham sandwiches on the road to the NFL or NBA. Kids play the game because they love it. Given the amount of work it takes to succeed, you have to love it to keep going. (Maybe I’m an idealist, but I believe this to be true. For a large majority of players.)
Yes, the money is a huge factor, but they wouldn’t be in that kind of position if they didn’t already love the game.
Other draft highlights:
— A similar signing bonus pool will be assigned for international signees.
Again, this hurts the small market clubs in that the penalties for exceeding the budget are extremely harsh.
— Drafted players may only sign Minor League contracts.
I don’t see this as a huge deal. Of the top 15 bonuses paid out in draft history, only six included major league contracts. The only Royal to be drafted and handed a major league contract was Luke Hochevar. Maybe this helps prevent clubs from making mistakes.
— There will be a Competitive Balance Lottery.
The name makes me laugh.
This is a confusing system, so I’ll just lay out the guidelines below:
A. For the first time, Clubs with the lowest revenues and in the smallest markets will have an opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery.
B. The ten Clubs with the lowest revenues, and the ten Clubs in the smallest markets, will be entered into a lottery for the six draft selections immediately following the completion of the first round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning the lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage.
C. The eligible Clubs that did not receive one of the six selections after the first round, and all other payee Clubs under the Revenue Sharing Plan, will be entered into a second lottery for the six picks immediately following the completion of the second round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning the lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage.
D. Picks awarded in the Competitive Balance Lottery may be assigned by a Club, subject to certain restrictions.
Known as the “Throw the GMs a bone” clause. I guess this is supposed to make up for the bonuses leveling off.
This smells “Made For TV” to me. The cool thing about this is it would seem these draft picks can be traded. Subject to certain restrictions, of course.
— The signing deadline will be moved forward.
It’s scheduled to land sometime between July 12 and 18, depending on the date of the All-Star Game. This is an excellent change. We know all too well that the top signings go down to the deadline because there’s no incentive to get the deal done early. My moving the deadline forward, this assures no one misses out on a (half year) of development time.
Some other nuggets…
— The percentage of players with two years of service who will be arbitration eligible will be increased from the top 17% to the top 22% in terms of service.
If you thought Eric Hosmer was close to Super Two status, he’s now a dead solid lock. And now the Super Two status of Mike Moustakas is in play. Under the old system the 2011 cutoff range was at 120 days of service time. This past year, Moose accumulated 111 days of service time. By pushing the percentage up by five percent, if Moustakas remains in the big leagues, he will certainly be on the cusp of eligibility. If he develops the way we hope, this will ultimately make Moustakas a few more million dollars.
2016 just got a little more expensive for the Royals.
–Major League will increase from $414,000 in 2011 to: $480,000 in 2012; $490,000 in 2013; and $500,000 in 2014; COLA in 2015 and 2016.
That’s a large jump, but I’m on board with this.
— Participation in the All-Star Game will be required unless the Player is unable to play due to injury or is otherwise excused by the Office of the Commissioner.
This means Derek Jeter will be in KC in July. If Chairman Bud had the stones to stand up to him.
— All Players will be subject to a policy governing the use of Social Media.
Great. Just when Danny Duffy fired up his Twitter account.
— Instant Replay will be expanded to include fair/foul and “trapped” ball plays.
I’m not a fan of instant replay, but I realize I’m in the minority here. Having said that, if you were going to expand the current system, this is the expansion that makes the most sense.
But this creates an interesting situation… What happens if Chris Getz loops a ball down the right field line (this is a hypothetical) and the ball is called foul. Obviously, everything stops because the ball is dead. Now the umpires will check the video and what happens if they change the ruling on the field. How do they decide how many bases to give the runner? There will be a few ejections on this rule.