Less than 24 hours ago Major League Baseball’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was finalized. Although us plebes are still not made entirely aware of the specifics of the agreement we do have some information on the basic changes. I’ve taken a look at a few of these more important changes, to see if/how they’ll affect the Seattle Mariners. For a little bit of context: The CBA was last changed in 2011 and the major changes included the addition of two Wild Card teams, the Astros move to the AL West in 2013 (hey thanks for that), lots of fussing about draft pick compensation, and a newly instituted signing bonus pool for international players. To look at more expansive information about the CBA check out these helpful pieces from Jayson Stark here and here and from Michael Baumann here.
*Disclaimer: Though I am prone to arguments I am not a lawyer, and therefore these changes have been interpreted in a highly simplistic way. Certain elements of the CBA that seemed too complicated and/or unnecessary to discuss in detail have been ignored (here’s looking at you, bizarrely complicated draft pick compensation rules).
- The luxury tax threshold is changing. In 2017 it will be $195 million, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020, and $210 million in 2021.
What this means for the Mariners: Very little. Given the current payroll (which will absolutely change within the day, nevermind the next few months), the Mariners would only have to worry about the luxury tax if it was somehow 2006 all over again.
- There will be no international draft, as previously threatened. Instead, there are new caps for international player signings. According to Jon Heyman they will range anywhere from $4.75 million to $5.75 million. If a player wishes to sign without any financial restrictions he must now wait until the age of 25 (up from 23). Interestingly, this is the first time the union has agreed to institute a hard cap in any area.
What this means for the Mariners: Honestly, not much. My greatest baseball interest is centered around international players and, selfishly, Dipoto’s lack of involvement in the international market has been my biggest complaint with his regime thus far. Sure, he signed Dae-Ho Lee and Guillermo Heredia, but of the 27 teams who signed international players this year, only three other teams signed fewer prospects. Maybe this cap will change Dipoto’s approach? Otherwise this is a pretty unfortunate decision for many international players who rely on those bigger bonuses
- The minimum DL stay will be cut from 15 days to 10 days
What this means for the Mariners: This is good. In the event that a starting pitcher, say, tore his fingernail off, he could feasibly only have to miss one start. Think of this decision as the consolation prize for what could have been the Willie Bloomquist Memorial 26th Man spot. It’s probably for the better since that extra spot likely would have just meant another guy in the bullpen, and science has thus far not progressed to the point where we can clone Nelson Cruz.
- The winner of the All-Star game will no longer determine home field advantage for the World Series
What this means for the Mariners: After the American League wins another All-Star game (because the AL has a Mike Trout and the NL does not) we, as fans, can stop making tired jokes about how Seattle will now host the first game of the World Series. When the M’s do get to the WS it’ll be because they had the better regular-season record than the NL pennant winner.
- Teams will no longer have to give up a first-round draft pick when signing players who were given a Qualifying Offer. Teams that exceed the luxury tax will have to give up both a second and fifth-round pick, while other teams simply forfeit the third-round pick.
What this means for the Mariners: Jerry Dipoto and Andy McKay have made it clear that rebuilding the foreclosed-upon farm system Jack Z left behind is a priority for the organization. This move doesn’t affect the org hugely, since Jerry seems to prefer trades to major free agent signings, but it could potentially open him up to a greater willingness to go after premium FAs without the risk of losing an important draft pick.
- In 2018 the regular season will extend from 183 days to 187 days, and those four extra days will become additional off days.
What this means for the Mariners: As the annual winner of Most Miles Travelled in A Single Season, these extra off days will come as a huge benefit to the M’s.
- During Spring Training travel players will each get two seats on the buses.
What this means for the Mariners: Now that Dae-Ho is no longer on the team this is less significant, but still good for ensuring comfort. This does not, however, apply to minor leaguers in any way, but is as good an excuse as any for your daily reminder that the life of a minor league baseball player is far from ideal and often involves riding (two to a seat) on buses with no air conditioning in the middle of the summer in southern California.
- Smokeless tobacco is officially banned for all new major league players
What this means for the Mariners: MORE BUBBLEGUM
Really, the most important part of all this is that a new CBA was agreed-upon, baseball can continue, and we do not have to endure Lockedout Landing: Volume 2