Collective Bargaining Agreement Rumors

Dolan On Indians, Hernandez, Sizemore, Free Agents

Indians CEO Paul Dolan recently spoke to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer about a number of topics concerning business both on and off the field…

  • Dolan wasn't "shocked" to hear about Roberto Hernandez (a.k.a. Fausto Carmona) living under a false identity, saying that the team had heard an unsubstantiated rumor about the situation last year.
  • Grady Sizemore will miss at least one month of the regular season after undergoing minor back surgery, but Dolan doesn't regret re-signing the outfielder.  "It's disappointing that he got hurt again," Dolan said.  "But we thought it was worth the risk because no one else on the [free agent] market had even close to Grady's upside for that price."
  • Though recent long-term signings like Sizemore, Travis Hafner and Jake Westbrook have suffered injuries, Dolan said he is still open to signing players to such deals, though not without some caution.  "If Chris [Antonetti] and Mark [Shapiro] comes to us with a long-term deal they want to make, we will seriously consider it. They have not done that [lately]," Dolan said.  "We will remain open, but in totality, how successful have those kind of deals been? More often than not, they have been failures."
  • Dolan disputed a recent Forbes article that claimed the Indians made a $30MM profit in 2011, arguing that while the club "made a little bit" of profit, that money went back into the team.  Dolan said the MLB Players Association cited the Indians as a franchise that was properly using the league's revenue sharing system.
  • Dolan was surprised when GM Chris Antonetti approached him about the Ubaldo Jimenez deal last summer.  "Like most fans, I'm used to us trading for prospects — not trading some of our best prospects," Dolan said.  "I was happy to see us take that approach and try to win."
  • It doesn't concern Dolan that the Indians don't have any players under contract past 2013, as the CEO notes that the team has control over many of its young stars like Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis for years to come.
  • Dolan didn't address rumors that the team was looking to sell cable network Sports Time Ohio, but said, "We are always looking to add revenue on the TV side of things."
  • It doesn't sound as if Dolan was totally satisfied with baseball's new collective bargaining agreement.  "We achieved labor peace," said Dolan. "But we didn't address the fundamental problems [such as a lack of a salary cap]."
  • Dolan said that there have been no "serious buyers" interested in purchasing the team during his ownership stint.  He would possibly have interest in a minority investor, should such an interested investor come forward.
  • The Tigers' signing of Prince Fielder dwarfed the Tribe's modest payroll increase of $50MM to $70MM.  "I understand that makes us look bad," Dolan said. "I don't understand the foundation of what they are doing … OK, in the short term, I do understand it, but long term …"  The Tigers' desire to win now makes them "operate much different than most franchisesEven the teams in major markets tend to operate as we do — they spend what they take in and don't go way above that."

Veterans On Minors Deals In Line For $100K Bonus

In recent years, several teams have included player opt-out clauses when signing veterans to minor league contracts.  Generally these contracts allow the player to opt out of his deal or ask for his release on a given date (usually before Opening Day or sometime in May or June) if he is not on a Major League roster by that day.  Some of the veterans on such contracts last season included the likes of Russell Branyan, Miguel Batista, Dave Bush, Eric Chavez and Brett Tomko.

These opt-outs are usually included as a sign of respect for veterans and a gesture towards giving them opportunity to sign elsewhere, rather than possibly spend a season in the minors for a team that has no plans or room for them.  A clause in the new collective bargaining agreement, however, has made such arrangements mandatory for veterans who have accrued a certain amount of playing time, and also gives these players a financial boost for their troubles.

Matthew Eddy of Baseball America outlines the situation for these "Article XX(B) free agents," or players who had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season and who have at least six years of Major League service time.  If such a player signs a minor league deal, the signing team must make a decision about his fate by five days before Opening Day.  The team can either put the player on the 25-man roster (thus guaranteeing his minor league deal and in most cases raising its value), release him outright (costing the team nothing) or, if the club chooses to send him down to the minors, the player receives a $100K bonus and an automatic opt-out date of June 1.

The $100K bonus may seem small by the standards of baseball salaries, but keep in mind that most of these minor league deals are worth well under $1MM in guaranteed money.  Eddy quotes one executive who says the bonus could make low-level Article XX(B) free agents "too rich for our blood," since the automatic opt-out clause means the player could just leave and the club will have gotten no real return for that $100K.  Teams are looking for the lowest possible expenditure for these low-cost veterans, if a team is weighing whether to add a player with 6+ years of service time or one with less than six years of service time, that possible $100K outlay could be the tiebreaker. 

Thanks to Eddy for compiling this list of 32 players who could be waived on March 30 (five days before this year's officially-designated Opening Day), or who could receive their $100K bonus and opt-out clause if they're not on their club's Major League roster.

Red Sox: Aaron Cook, Vicente Padilla

Yankees: Russell Branyan

Blue Jays: Omar Vizquel

Indians: Cristian Guzman, Jose Lopez, Dan Wheeler

Angels: Jason Isringhausen

Mariners: Kevin Millwood

Rangers: Brad Hawpe, Conor Jackson

Mets: Miguel Batista

Phillies: Juan Pierre, Joel Pineiro

Nationals: Rick Ankiel, Chad Durbin, Jason Michaels

Cubs: Rodrigo Lopez, Trever Miller

Reds: Jeff Francis, Willie Harris

Astros: Zach Duke, Livan Hernandez

Brewers: Cesar Izturis, Corey Patterson

Pirates: Juan Cruz

Cardinals: Alex Cora, Scott Linebrink

Dodgers: Josh Bard, John Grabow, Jamey Wright

Giants: Ramon Ortiz

The New Trade Market

MLB players and owners agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement this offseason and they’re set to announce expanded playoffs starting in 2012. These changes will affect the mid-summer trade market in the following ways:

  • More buyers, fewer sellers – Those who followed this week’s NHL trade deadline know that fewer teams consider themselves truly out of the playoff mix when more spots are up for grabs. It’s already common for MLB teams to wait until they’re clearly out of contention to make players available, and the additional Wild Card spots figure to delay the moment at which teams are comfortable selling while reducing the number of teams willing to part with MLB assets. I won't be surprised if the market develops later than usual this summer. 
  • Prospective free agents traded midseason will no longer be eligible for draft pick compensation – For example, if the Padres trade Carlos Quentin for prospects midseason, his new team wouldn’t be able to obtain a compensatory pick in 2013, even if they make him a qualifying offer when he hits free agency following the season.
  • Increased asking prices for star players – Don’t be surprised if the asking price on available talent rises midseason. Let’s say the Cubs make Matt Garza available in early July, before many teams are truly out of the mix. There would be many buyers at that point and few alternatives in terms of quality starting pitching.
  • New market for non-elite players – Teams could previously hold onto non-elite players such as middle relievers and obtain draft picks by offering arbitration to those who qualified as Type B free agents. The new CBA eliminated the Type A and B classifications, so teams stand to lose players for nothing unless they’re prepared to offer them one-year salaries in the $12.5MM range. Most players aren’t worth that kind of cash, so teams might flip them to buyers for prospects to obtain long-term assets. That said, there’s definite value in fielding a respectable team, so it’s not as though GMs will be handing second-tier players over for nothing.

MLB, MLBPA To Talk International Acquisitions

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced that they formed a committee to discuss the development and acquisition of international players. Sandy Alderson of the Mets, Andrew Friedman of the Rays and Kim Ng of MLB join MLB executive VP Rob Manfred, while Tony Clark, Stan Javier and Rick Shapiro of the MLBPA join Michael Weiner, the association’s executive director. The committee will meet by January 15, 2012, according to the recent collective bargaining agreement. 

Here’s a summary of the primary issues the committee will consider:

  • How to proceed should MLB decide to implement an international draft. International players could be included in the current amateur draft or selected in a separate draft (or drafts).
  • Which players from Puerto Rico would remain eligible for the Rule 4 draft if MLB implements multiple drafts.
  • The age at which it’s appropriate to sign international amateurs to professional deals.
  • Ways of revising the agreement between MLB and the Mexican League to provide players with an smoother path to MLB. 
  • Ways of revising agreements between MLB and the Korean Baseball League, the Japanese Baseball League and the Taiwan R.O.C. League to accommodate a draft.
  • Development opportunities for undrafted and unsigned players in Latin America. New leagues and/or teams are possible in Latin America.
  • Regulations for representation of international amateurs (for example, the role of so-called independent trainers). 
  • Possible safeguards for international bonuses.
  • How to treat amateur Cuban players given the legal and political landscape.
  • Country-by-country plans for development of players who aren’t yet draft eligible. 
  • Education and acculturation programs at teams’ international academies.

13 Teams Eligible For First Competitive Balance Lottery

The new collective bargaining agreement calls for a competitive balance draft pick lottery beginning in 2013, and's Jonathan Mayo has details.  13 teams will be eligible for the first lottery based on their market size and revenue: the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Indians, Royals, Athletics, Pirates, Padres, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Marlins, Brewers, and Cardinals.  The lottery gives each of these teams the chance to win one of six extra picks in the 2013 draft, which will come after the compensation picks for free agents.  The odds of winning a pick will be based on each team's winning percentage in the previous season.

There will be another group of six picks after the draft's second round.  The teams in the mix for these will be the ones that did not win a pick in the first lottery, as well as any other team that receives revenue sharing.

Mayo says lottery picks can be traded, but only once by a team and only during the regular season.  The picks cannot be sold for cash.

A third lottery will be held for picks forfeited by teams that exceeded their bonus pools.  Teams that did not exceed their pools will be eligible, with odds based on a formula of revenue and winning percentage.  Got all that?  There will be a quiz tomorrow.

CBA Links: Michael Weiner, Draft

Details are still emerging about baseball's new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Here's the latest on the agreement coutesy of Baseball America's Jim Callis, as well as a Q&A between ESPN's Jayson Stark and MLBPA head Michael Weiner…

  • The draft was "perhaps [the owners'] most aggressive objective" said Weiner, adding that they wanted to achieve competitive balance. The union heard from GMs and other executives that weren't in favor of some of the proposed changes.
  • "We look to the agents for assistance and for ideas," said Weiner. Scott Boras and "other agents who have been active in advising players in the draft" were consulted during the collective bargaining process.
  • The players pushed for HGH testing, but left it up to union to make sure it was done the right way. They were uncomfortable with the collection process (blood withdrawal), which is why there is no in-season testing at the moment.
  • The draft has been reduced from 50 rounds to 40 rounds, and any attempt to circumvent the draft pool (i.e. an under-the-table agreement) is strictly prohibited. 
  • Teams get an extra year of protection for compensation picks, meaning if a team fails to sign the player they took with a pick they received for failing to sign a previous pick, they will get another compensation pick the following year.

Quick Hits: Harper, Storen, Mets, Moore

It was on this day in 1953 that the Dodgers promoted their Triple-A manager to take over the Major League job on a one-year contract.  Walter Alston remained in the Dodgers' dugout for the next 23 years, winning 2,040 games and leading the club to four World Series titles.

Some news from around the Majors as everyone lets the turkey settle…

  • The new Super Two regulations in the new collective bargaining agreement shouldn't have much impact on Nationals uber-prospect Bryce Harper, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
  • Drew Storen will only become more valuable to the Nationals as the price of closers continues to rise, opines Ben Goessling of, though "there's a logical argument to be made for moving Storen at the height of his value."
  • The Mets are "still in [the] exploratory stage" of their offseason moves and "aren't close on anything," reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (via Twitter).
  • Royals general manager Dayton Moore tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that he doesn't think his team will be negatively affected by the new CBA.  Dutton notes that the Royals spent much more than usual on draft signings and international prospects in the last year since the club was anticipating both avenues to be limited under baseball's new labor rules.

Padres Notes: Quentin, Bell, Baker, Scouting

The Padres have Carlos Quentin "on their list of possibilities" for an offseason trade, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  It seems like a good match, given that the White Sox are thought to have Quentin on the market and the Padres are looking for a corner outfielder.  Center mentions elsewhere in his chat with readers that given the Padres' difficulty in luring free agent hitters to Petco Park, a trade would be the club's best chance to add that desired corner outfield help.

Quentin has posted a .257/.352/.505 line over the last four seasons in Chicago, though it remains to be seen how his bat and his glove (a career UZR/150 of -9.3, though this metric also shows Quentin was an above-average defensive right fielder in 2011) would play in spacious Petco Park.  If Quentin was acquired, he and Cameron Maybin would play every day, with Center including Chris Denorfia, Jesus Guzman, Kyle Blanks, Mark Kotsay and Will Venable all in the mix at the other corner outfield spot.

Some other news about the Friars…

  • Also from Center, GM Josh Byrnes is "actively talking trade with a number of clubs."  Center lists Maybin, Nick Hundley, Mat Latos and Anthony Rizzo as "the only players who I believe are close to untouchable."
  • Former Padres GM Jed Hoyer tells Tom Krasovic of Inside The Padres that the new collective bargaining agreement played a big role in the club's decision to keep Heath Bell at last summer's trade deadline.  "We checked with MLB several times to make sure the compensation system wouldn't be eliminated after the 2011 season," Hoyer said.  "The value of the picks was the crux of our decision not to trade him in July or August. In our minds (and many people were involved in the decision), we never were offered anything all that close to the value of the draft picks in return."  If Bell turns down San Diego's offer of arbitration and signs elsewhere, Bell's modified Type A status means that the Padres would receive a first-round pick in a slot directly ahead of Bell's new team, plus a supplementary round pick.
  • Writing for Fangraphs, Mike Axisa thinks the Padres got the better end of the recent John Baker-for-Wade LeBlanc trade.
  • The Padres' willingness to spend on their international scouting and development system is paying dividends, writes Dan Hayes of the North County Times.

Heyman On Rangers, Phillies, Draft

The latest from Jon Heyman of (all links go to Twitter):

  • Other than the Indians, the Rangers were the only team that told Grady Sizemore he’d play center field, according to Heyman. The outfielder re-signed in Cleveland today for a base salary of $5MM with up to $4MM in incentives.
  • The Phillies were a “strong option” for Sizemore, but they wanted him in left field, Heyman reports.
  • Heyman has future slot recommendations for amateur draft picks. MLB recommends a bonus of $7.2MM for the first overall pick and the recommendations decrease to $6.2MM, $5.2MM, $4.2MM, $3.5MM and $3.2MM for picks #2-6. The final selection of the first round will have a recommended bonus of $1.6MM. Given the penalties for teams that surpass MLB's recommended bonuses, Stephen Strasburg's $15.1MM deal will probably remain a record for a while.
  • MLBTR has details on, analysis of and reaction to the CBA.

CBA Reactions

Yesterday, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith broke down ten key aspects of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.  More reactions to the changes…

  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly commented to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Is this everything the Pittsburgh Pirates hoped it would be? No.  But we don't subscribe to the notion it was aimed at us."  Even so, the Pirates' large draft expenditures of the last several years will be curbed in years to come.
  • The Nationals helped create the new landscape with draft spending limits, writes Ben Goessling of
  • Many free agents became more attractive to the Red Sox with the new CBA, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, as they are loathe to surrender draft picks.
  • Franchise values are reduced by the draft spending limits, agent Scott Boras tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
  • Bubba Starling's name came up multiple times during bargaining sessions, writes Yahoo's Jeff Passan, as the union was concerned teams will no longer be able to buy players out of other sports.  The Royals lured Starling away from football for $7.5MM this year.
  • One GM sees "massive problems" created by the new CBA, telling Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, "Competitive balance is going to get progressively worse." 
  • There was some shock among GMs at the $2.9MM cap on international signings, writes ESPN's Buster Olney.
  • Dave Cameron of FanGraphs says MLB reduced the chances that small-market teams will be able to build long-term winners because it made winning "a lot more about Major League payroll size than anything else."
  • Though Danny Knobler of gives players and owners credit for completing the CBA peacefully, he believes the new regulations surrounding the draft and international amateurs are a minus.