Details are slowly emerging about baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, which will be formally announced Tuesday according to various sources. The sport has already confirmed a major change with Houston moving to the American League West in 2013 to create two 15-team leagues. That means year-round interleague play, but the number of games is unknown and rumored to be anywhere between 18 and 30.
The Associated Press reports of two details in the new CBA that will especially be pertinent to the Phillies:
1. The minimum salary will increase from $414,000 to $480,000. This is a minor development. But the Phillies will likely have at least five pre-arbitration players (John Mayberry Jr., Vance Worley, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, David Herndon, etc.) on their roster. They all just received higher raises than expected.
2. The current luxury tax threshold of $178 million will not increase in 2012 as it had in the previous CBA. The average yearly increase was $8 million in the old agreement.
Does that mean the Phillies' payroll ceiling is $178 million? Probably not. Team officials, including president David Montgomery, declared a willingness during last season to do what was needed — even if it meant going over the tax limit.
And while the luxury tax is this mythological status to avoid at all costs, it's really not debilitating. Teams who exceed it for the first time (and we are 99 percent certain the Phillies did not exceed the limit in 2011, but it's possible) must pay a tax of 22.5 percent on the amount they are over.
So let's say the Phillies' payroll is $180 million in 2012. They would be taxed on the $2 million and have to pay $450,000, or the equivalent of almost one minimum salary, to Major League Baseball. Again, if that's separating the Phillies from a deadline acquisition, it's not a huge impediment.
It's also possible that the actual tax is less under the new CBA in return for maintaining the same threshold.
The guess here is in 2012, the Phillies become the first National League team to ever pay luxury tax.
3. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that draft-pick compensation for free agents will change dramatically, but the final details are still a mystery. MLB will abolish the Elias rankings system that determines Type A and Type B free agents beginning (sort of) with this winter. Only the top free agents — and Rosenthal defines them as Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins and David Ortiz — will be tied to compensation.
The eight remaining relievers who are Type A free agents — including Ryan Madson — will no longer hold that status. Instead, a team that signs them will not surrender their first-round draft pick. However, the team that loses said reliever will receive some sort of compensation pick that is probably not in the first round.
But the Phillies will not be granted those rules because they have already signed Jonathan Papelbon. Rosenthal reports the Phillies, like in the old system, must surrender their 31st pick in the first round to Boston as compensation.
Granted, if Rollins signs elsewhere, the Phillies could recoup that first rounder. For losing Madson, they will likely be awarded a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. In the past, he would have netted them a first rounder.
Obviously there are more details to come plus plenty of words to be written about the implementation of HGH blood testing. But there is labor peace in baseball for five more years, and that is something to celebrate.
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