Changes in compensation for teams losing players and spending limits on draftees support competitive balance.
Michael Cuddyer, left, and Jason Kubel are free agents and their return to the Twins is uncertain. If Cuddyer, Kubel and free agent reliever Matt Capps sign elsewhere, the Twins would have six of the first 65 picks in the June draft.
The Twins voiced their full support for baseball's new collective bargaining agreement Tuesday, even after reading the fine print.
The new CBA ensures continued labor peace through 2016. It will expand the playoffs from eight to 10 teams, possibly by next fall. It will move the Houston Astros to the American League in 2013, balancing the two leagues at 15 teams apiece. And it will make baseball the first North American professional sport to test for human growth hormone.
But beyond the big headlines, the new CBA also includes stiff penalties for teams that overspend on the draft. This takes effect next June, when the Twins hold the No. 2 overall pick, and they could gain more high-round picks if Michael Cuddyer and other free agents sign elsewhere.
For a team that prides itself on building through the draft, is the devil in the details?
"I think we'll know a lot more five years from now," Twins President Dave St. Peter said. "It's a new system, but I think we're optimistic. We've made some strides [with draft regulations], and ultimately what will result is more competitive balance throughout the game, which is really the main objective."
The new CBA had immediate effects for two of the Twins' three remaining free agents. Cuddyer and Matt Capps were Type A free agents, so any team that signed them under the previous agreement would have lost a first-round pick.
But the owners and players -- while abolishing the Type A/Type B system for future years -- moved Cuddyer and five other free agents into a new category. If the Phillies sign Cuddyer, for example, the Twins still would get two compensatory draft picks, but Philadelphia wouldn't lose a pick. The Twins would gain a pick right before Philadelphia's first-round selection, along with a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds.
To receive draft pick compensation, the Twins have to offer these players arbitration by Wednesday's 11 p.m. deadline. They had no plans to do this with Capps, who made $7.15 million last year.
Now, Capps and four other free agents are in a special category. If Capps signs elsewhere, the Twins will receive a sandwich pick without having to offer him arbitration. And any team that signs Capps won't forfeit a pick.
Jason Kubel remains a Type B free agent, so the Twins still would get a sandwich pick if he leaves. They received no compensation for losing Joe Nathan to the Rangers -- he was neither Type A nor Type B after missing 2010 because of an elbow injury -- but if Cuddyer, Capps and Kubel sign elsewhere, the Twins could hold six of the first 65 picks next June.
By then, there will be a whole new draft calculus. The commissioner's office will make slot recommendations for each pick, adding up how much each team should spend for the first 10 rounds. The spending targets will account for teams picking higher in the draft and those with extra picks, but any team that exceeds its target by more than 5 percent will be taxed 75 percent on the overage and lose a future first-round pick.
Harsh as that might sound, the Twins believe the advantage is that their draft picks will know limitations up front. The new CBA also forbids teams from signing drafted players to major league deals, something the Twins never did, so this should simplify their discussions with the No. 2 overall pick.
"The one thing you've gotta remember in any draft is we're trying to make it so the teams with the worst record get the best players," Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. "That's what they're trying to do with this agreement."
The average fan isn't overly concerned about the draft. What matters most is that MLB has put so many messy labor battles behind, including the strike that led Commissioner Bud Selig to cancel the 1994 World Series. Baseball hasn't had a work stoppage since.
"I think history will be very kind to Commissioner Selig," St. Peter said. "We've certainly learned our lessons over the years relative to what work stoppages can do to a league, to players, to an overall brand.
"I don't think many people would have predicted back in '94-'95 that in 20 years, MLB would be viewed as maybe the most stable of the professional sports."
|Minnesota||1||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Cincinnati||2||Top 4th Inning|
|Los Angeles||6||Bottom 2nd Inning|
|Oakland||0||Top 1st Inning|
|Arizona - T. Cahill||2:10 PM|
|Colorado - J. De La Rosa|
|Washington - G. Gonzalez||2:45 PM|
|San Francisco - M. Bumgarner|
|Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson||3:37 PM|
|Toronto - M. Buehrle|
|Chicago Cubs - J. Samardzija||6:05 PM|
|Pittsburgh - F. Liriano|
|Detroit - J. Verlander||6:05 PM|
|Cleveland - U. Jimenez|
|NY Yankees - H. Kuroda||6:05 PM|
|Baltimore - J. Hammel|
|Seattle - B. Maurer||6:05 PM|
|LA Angels - C. Wilson|
|Philadelphia - C. Lee||6:10 PM|
|Miami - K. Slowey|
|Boston - C. Buchholz||7:10 PM|
|Chicago WSox - H. Santiago|
|Kansas City - J. Shields||7:10 PM|
|Houston - J. Lyles|
|St. Louis - T. Lyons||9:10 PM|
|San Diego - B. Smith|