Highlights From The New CBA

The effects of Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement can't be described within one post, even one as long as this. It will take a while for teams and players to adjust to the game's new conditions, but here's an early look at ten highlights from the CBA (in no particular order):

  1. Playoffs may expand in 2012 – If Commissioner Bud Selig gets his wish and MLB playoffs expand next year, more teams than ever will have a realistic shot at contention.
  2. Good news for middle-tier free agents – Teams will only offer arbitration if they're prepared to pay a one-year salary that matches or exceeds the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players from the previous season (likely more than $12MM). Middle-tier free agents won't see offers of arbitration and will hit the market uninhibited as a result.
  3. Draft limits may curb rebuilding efforts –  Teams will face draft spending ceilings in the $4.5-11.5MM range. Clubs like the Pirates, Rays, Indians, Nationals, Blue Jays and Mets had been spending aggressively on the draft, but will have to slow down or face steep fines and lose future selections.
  4. Earlier signing deadline – The draft signing deadline will now be in mid-July, which means a) teams can get a longer look at players who sign late b) teams can trade players from the previous year's draft before the July 31st trade deadline and c) college coaches will be able to set their fall rosters with more time to spare. 
  5. The trade market for elite free agents shifts"Only players who have been with their clubs for the entire season will be subject to compensation," according to the CBA. In other words, teams won't be compensated for losing players acquired in midseason trades.
  6. Some draft picks can be traded – If a team wins a pick in the competitive balance lottery, it can assign the selection to another club under some circumstances.
  7. International spending restrictions – The restrictions on international spending appear to make it harder for teams to build a competitive advantage internationally.
  8. More super twos – More players than ever will be arbitration eligible before obtaining three years of MLB service. This won't stop the annual service time manipulations for top prospects, but it might delay them until later in the summer. The cutoff will now be earlier than ever, which means teams may wait until the end of June before calling top prospects up.
  9. Earlier deadlines speed offseason up – Going forward, teams have to decide whether to offer arbitration to free agents soon after the World Series, instead of in late November. The sides also moved the tender deadline for arbitration eligible players up to December 2.
  10. Expanded rosters for doubleheaders - Though the sides didn't announce any reductions for September roster sizes, they did agree on one change. Teams will be allowed to expand their rosters to include 26 players for some doubleheaders.