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.