Commissioner of Baseball Selig gestures to the crowd after throwing out the opening pitch before the start of Game 5 of the MLB National League Divisional League Series baseball playoff in Milwaukee

New CBA to result in less talent for baseball, more money for mediocrities

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The MLBPA had held out for so long in not selling out those entering the league. That all changed in recent weeks.

Tuesday’s newly announced CBA doesn’t technically cap draft spending, but it will severely punish any team that exceeds MLB’s proposed slot caps. Teams that go 10 percent over slot will be taxed by 100 percent that amount and lose future first- and second-round picks. Teams that go 15 percent over slot will face the same tax and lose two future first-round picks.

The CBA also eliminated major league deals for draft picks, which might well have allowed teams a workaround for giving prospects extra bonuses.

MLB owners now have pretty much the draft they’ve already wanted. Reportedly, there are even provisions to go to a worldwide draft by 2014, cutting further into the already reduced bonuses Latin American prospects are now facing.

For baseball as a whole, this is a gloomy day. Yes, labor peace is nice. So is having the best talent possible playing in MLB. Part of what made baseball so tempting for two-sport athletes all this time is that they can cash in right after high school. Now that the bonuses are going to be smaller, the next Carl Crawford or Matt Holliday may well opt for football. Also, it’d be no surprise if we start seeing the occasional high-profile Latin American prospect and major league draftee choose to begin his pro career in Japan.

And where will that extra money go? To Juan Rivera, of course. It’s players like Mark Ellis, Rod Barajas and Javier Lopez that will take advantage. That middle class of free agents, whose portion of the pie had gotten smaller as the last decade went along, is starting to see a big rebound now. Those teams that blanch at the idea of spending $20 million per year on a superstar never see the problem with spending $4 million-$5 million per year on a player who might be 10 percent better than a guy making the minimum.

Which is great for the MLBPA, as it’s presently constituted. The players looked out for No. 1 and will definitely benefit in the short term. The game itself, though, is a little less healthier than it was a month ago.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:

Tony Clark responds to Rob Manfred’s claim that union had a “lack of cooperation”

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.

Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.

Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”

“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”

“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”

“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”

Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.