Thoughts on the CBA

I haven’t seen the entire CBA but I feel I have seen enough of it to get a pretty good gauge. A good summary of it can be found at MLB Trade Rumors.

In that article it breaks the CBA down into 9 components. I am going to take a look at those 9 components and see if they help or hurt the Pirates or make little difference at all.

Draft Pick Compensation:

The Good

  • In all likelihood the Pirates will not have to worry about surrendering a draft pick in order to sign a free agent

The Bad

  • The Pirates will likely receive very few compensation picks. Teams now must offer free agents a one year tender worth the average salary of the top 125 players in the league. With the possible exception of player like McCutchen the Pirates are likely to avoid taking this risk.
  • Compensation can only be gotten by a team if a player was with the team for the full season. This means should the Pirates ever find themselves in a position where they would have a reason to trade for a rental player they would not be able to receive any comp picks for him at the end of the season. On the flip side should the Pirates try to trade a player like McCutchen during his last season he loses value because the team receiving him will not also be trading for the possibility of a draft pick.

The Indifferent

  • Type A free agency has been changed for this season. This will likely have no effect on the Pirates. They are not likely to sign a Type A free agent and have no Type A free agents themselves.


The Good

  • The playoffs will expand to 5 teams per league. Personally I am not a big fan of this idea but it does help the Pirates by giving them a better chance to make the playoffs.
  • The Astros will be leaving the NL Central meaning the Pirates only have 4 teams to compete with instead of 5. Again I don’t like the fact that Inter-league play will now be a constant but the elimination of a team does help the Pirates playoff chances.

Amateur Draft Spending Limits

The Good

  • The agreement is at least smart enough to include a sliding scale where the teams that pick at the top of the draft are allowed to spend more money than those at the bottom. I feared these two sides might even botch that up
  • The draft signing deadline will be moved up a month meaning most players should now be able to start playing the year they are drafted instead of waiting for winter ball or even the following season.
  • The penalties for overspending should be a strong enough deterrent  to make sure high revenue teams do not decide to start spending ape-crazy in the draft.

The Bad

  • Draft spending limits are going to be in the 4-11.5 million dollar range. This means no more spending 17 million dollars in one draft. Although bonuses after the 10th round do not count against this total unless they exceed 100 thousand dollars.
  • The Penalties are severe. A 75% tax for spending up to 5% over slot. A 75% tax plus forfeiting a 1st round draft pick for going 5-10% over. A 100% tax plus forfeiting a 1st and 2nd round draft choice for going 10-15% over and if a team goes more than 15% over slot they will face a 100% tax and will forfeit their next two 1st round picks. Obviously this makes going over slot not worth it for the Pirates
  • With this setup if there is a team that decides just to spend for the sake of spending it is likely to be a team at the bottom of the draft who is a big revenue team. Think about what hurts the less, the Pirates overspending and losing the 6th overall pick or the Yankees overspending and losing the 28th overall pick in the draft.

The Indifferent

  • No MLB deals for draft picks. This is neither good or bad because it is both. It is bad because a MLB deal would be a way to circumvent the system but it is good because the Pirates will not need to rush a player to the majors.
  • Lost picks will be handed via a lottery where the lower record and revenue teams will have a better chance of winning. Taxes that are collected will be distributed to teams that did not overspend via revenue sharing. I don’t foresee this coming into play much so that is why I call it indifferent.

Competitive Balance Lottery

The Good

  • Every year the Pirates are likely to have a good chance at winning an extra pick. The 10 teams with the smallest revenues and the 10 teams with the smallest markets (yes there will be overlap) are eligible to win one of 6 picks that will be added to the end of Round 1. Teams not winning a pick there will join the other teams that qualify under the revenue sharing plan in a lottery where 6 will win a pick at the end of the 2nd round. The chances of winning the lottery will be dependent on the previous season winning percentage.
  • These awarded picks are allowed to be traded. This is good because the Pirates will likely win one in quite a few seasons and will have another asset that can be traded.

International Spending

The Good

  • Starting in the 2013-2014 season teams will be allowed to spend a certain amount of international free agents. Eventually the numbers are supposed to be the teams with the worst records can spend up to 5 million and the teams that make the World Series may only spend 1.8 million. I like this because it should give the Pirates, for now at least, an advantage in most international markets (more money to spend).
  • Non-spent money is allowed to be traded. Like the additional draft pick any time the Pirates get an extra asset they can trade it is a good thing.

The Bad

  • Cubans 23 and over and Japanese players who are posted are excluding from this cap. Obviously these players tend to be the most polished and major league ready. Not having these types included in this hurts the Pirates chances of acquiring them.
  • An equal spending limit this season of 2.9 million. This just doesn’t make too much sense to me. Why not implement a sliding scale for this season.

The Indifferent

  • The punishments for going over are rather severe. Overall I like the cap but I know there is likely to be some instance where going over the amount makes sense but with penalties such as not being allowed to sign any player for over 500K or for over 250K the following season it probably would not be worth it. But then again it should prevent big revenue teams from spending like crazy.
  • A world-wide draft seems like a strong possibility. I’m not sure where I stand on this. It will hurt the Pirates because the current system with spending limits that allow them to pay more favor them right now. On the other hand though it will make the whole system more structured and will allow the Pirates to have exclusive negotiating rights with a player they like.


The Bad

  • The Super 2 cutoff will raise from 17% to 22%. This obviously means the Pirates will either have to wait longer to call up a player or risk paying them four years of arbitration rather than three. Neither is an ideal situation.

The Indifferent

  • The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players has been moved up to December 2nd. I personally like this but as far as the Pirates are concerned I don’t think it has much impact.

Drug Testing

The Indifferent

  • HGH blood testing will occur in the off-season but is not permitted during the season unless there is reasonable suspicion. I like that they are starting to test for HGH but I would like for it to be in season. Overall though I really don’t think this will have a huge effect on the Pirates.

Revenue Sharing and Luxury Tax

The Good

  • By 2016 the top 15 markets will not be eligible for revenue sharing. Obviously having fewer teams eligible should mean the Pirates get more money.
  • The luxury tax percentage will go up to 42% in 2012 and 50% in 2013. hey at least it is going up.

The Bad

  • The luxury tax threshold is being raised to $178 million. The best scenario was for it be lowered.
  • The punishments for exceeding the luxury tax threshold are not nearly as severe as exceeding the draft or international thresholds. Seems to me the strict penalties should be across the board.


The Good

  • Rosters for double headers will expand to 26 players. Meaning a roster move to call up an extra pitcher will not be needed. Having to send down a player for a spot starter was very illogical so its good to see baseball fix this.


  • Instant replay will be expanded to fair/foul balls and also trap plays. Personally I like this but I understand why some don’t so I am not calling this good or bad.
  • Minimum salary is rising to 480K and veterans who sign minor league contracts and do not make the major league team will receive a 100K bonus and will be allowed to opt out on June 1st. This is a very minimal amount and should have little to no effect on the Pirates budget.

At first glance this deal appeared downright awful for the Pirates but upon further inspection it appears a little better than I had first thought. Make no mistake this is by no means a good deal for the Pirates but it is better than my initial reaction allowed me to believe.


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