New CBA Could Minimize Free Agent Compensation and Hurt The Mets

An article by posted on November 1, 2011

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports shares some details about the new Collective bargaining Agreement which is expected to be announced very shortly and possibly before the official start of free agency on Thursday.

Unlike past negotiations between the owners and the Players Union, things have been going quite smoothly under the circumstances and both sides seem committed to getting this done so that many new elements can go into effect this offseason.

Free Agent Compensation

In any case, the more significant modification in the new agreement — at least from the fans’ perspective — will be the change in draft-pick compensation. The union is concerned that all but the elite Type A free agents — players such as left-hander CC Sabathia and first basemen Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder — are devalued by the current system.

Draft-pick compensation was designed to reward teams that lost free agents, not inhibit the movement of such players. But clubs now value draft picks to a greater extent than they did when the system was created, making them less willing to sacrifice picks for certain free agents.

While the players who suffered the most harm in recent years were middle-inning relievers who achieved Type A status, sources say that the union also wants to protect certain others in this year’s free-agent class, including designated hitter David Ortiz, who is about to turn 36, and shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who is about to turn 33.

One obvious solution is to make the compensation for Type A picks similar to the compensation for Type B picks. Teams that lose such players receive a supplementary choice between the first and second rounds, but the signing teams do not forfeit picks.

My Thoughts – This would be a big blow to the Mets this season if suddenly they were to get just one sandwich pick for Jose Reyes instead of also obtaining the signing team’s first round pick or second round if their first round is protected.

Another change that is being discussed is that to receive a pick under the new plan, one source said, “a team might be required to make its free agent a qualifying offer — perhaps a set amount, perhaps a certain percentage more than his previous salary”.

That would mean making a competitive offer which is far more substantial and financially taxing than simply offering the free agent arbitration as is currently the case. Usually the free agent rejects the arbitration which allowed the team to get the draft pick compensation.

Now, there’s a chance that if you want the compensation, you must first make a competitive offer to re-sign him and for more money than his last contract. That sounds pretty extreme to me and exactly the kind of change the Players Union would lobby hard for. It changes everything.

I’m not sure how much of this will actually come to fruition, but Rosenthal writes that a new labor agreement is expected by the time the free-agent market opens at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, enabling certain new rules governing free agency to take effect. If that’s the case, we’ll all get the final details soon enough.

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