UPDATE: Let’s not call the new collective bargaining agreement a success just yet

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UPDATE:  I need to walk this one back quite a bit, as many new details emerged about the new CBA after I posted it.  Here are some of those details which change my assessment of this quite a bit.

12:37 PM: At 1PM Eastern the MLB Network will have the news conference announcing the new CBA.  MLB.com is probably streaming it because they tend to do that. Go check it out if you’d like. If not, read this.

As we’ve noted several times, there aren’t CrazySexyCool changes afoot here. Very little in the new CBA is going to impact the lives and baseball-viewing enjoyment of the casual fan.  The realignment of the Astros to the AL starting in 2013 and the addition of a wild card team are both big obvious changes, but beyond that it’s a lot of inside baseball.  UPDATE:  Ken Rosenthal is reporting now that the new CBA will have some expanded replay for fair/foul calls and “trapped” balls.  We’ll have a post on that when we see the details.

The most comprehensive treatment of these changes I’ve seen can be found over at Bless You Boys, where Tigerdog1 — I think that’s a German name — breaks them down item-by-item.  I thought about just plagiarizing his work and calling it an homage or a remix, but that would be wrong.  Go check his post out for the nitty gritty.

The larger takeaway: while the advent of HGH testing and the realignment stuff will get the most attention, the most significant changes occur with respect to the amateur draft and international free agent signings.  In each case, a luxury tax was implemented, penalizing teams — fairly sharply, it appears — who choose to go over bonus limits set by the league. This will effectively serve as a salary cap for amateur signings, even if it’s not a hard cap.  And it will really change the way teams with low big league payrolls build.  Before they could plow money into the draft even if they couldn’t snag a big free agent.  Now: it won’t be easy.

I still don’t understand why Major League Baseball pushed so hard for that. Overall costs associated with the draft and signings are dwarfed by the main player payroll for each team and thus the savings there will not be dramatic overall, even if they do work pretty significant change in isolated situations.  Oh well. You get what you can get in a negotiation and the owners got it.

Anyway, as we said yesterday, the key here is less the specific changes — we only care about things like free agent compensation picks and Super Two eligibility for a couple cold months of the year — than the fact that the deal is done and it was done without blood on the floor or rancor in the air.

Indeed, by the time this contract expires, you’ll be able to get a legal beer with someone who wasn’t alive the last time baseball had a work stoppage.  And that’s pretty cool.

The Nationals sign Kevin Jepsen

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Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports the Nationals have agreed to terms with free agent reliever Kevin Jepsen.

Think of this as the latest in what will likely be a series of no-risk bullpen additions. The Nats, basically, collecting as many almost free arms they can find in an effort to fix their bullpen woes without having to give up anything valuable at the trade deadline. Just like the K-Rod signing earlier this week or the Edwin Jackson signing two weeks ago.

Jepsen pitched for Tampa Bay and Minnesota last year, posting a 5.68 ERA with the Rays and a 6.16 ERA with the Twins, appearing in 58 games in all. He went unsigned this past offseason.

Eh, it might work. It probably won’t, but it might.

Rival Executives Expect Justin Verlander To Hit The Trading Block

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About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.

As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.

The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.

On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.

The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.

If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.