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


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.

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.