Stark On CBA, Rays, Lidge, Rockies

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark makes the case that Justin Verlander is the MVP of the American League before providing a new set of rumblings from around baseball. Here they are…

  • MLB and the players' association hope to announce the details of a new labor deal before the World Series ends, but they have some major issues to work out before then. Stark hears that the draft, including spending and compensation, could be an ongoing source of tension this month.
  • The sides have discussed a reverse luxury tax that would penalize teams that spend well under the average payroll.
  • MLB executives are impressed by the way the Rays have resisted rushing young pitchers to the Major Leagues to ensure they're prepared for a full season of work once they arrive. Tampa Bay executive Gerry Hunsicker says it's "not rocket science."
  • One rival executive thinks James Shields is staying put this winter. It won't be surprising if the Rays listen on Shields, since he would have through-the-roof value as a trade chip.
  • Brad Lidge, who has pitched well since returning from the disabled list, will listen to offers from teams that are interested in him as a setup man this offseason, according to agent Rex Gary. There's no indication that the Phillies have discussed a new deal with Lidge, though he is open to returning to Philadelphia (the team will decline its $12.5MM option for 2012). 
  • The Rockies will try to lower payroll by $4MM or so to the $83-84MM range this offseason and they may get partway there by dealing Chris Iannetta.
  • Stark heard from rival executives who expect Albert Pujols to stay in St. Louis, Prince Fielder to join the Nationals and Jose Reyes to sign in San Francisco.


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