Baseball is back!
MLB and the Players’ Association agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement on Thursday so we won’t have to deal with this bullshit until after the 2026 season. You can read everything about the deal at The Athletic
if you subscribe or USA Today
if you don’t.
I’m going to through the interesting changes that are coming with the new CBA and what it means for the Blue Jays…
It’s going to be easier to make the playoffs
A key concession that the players gave to the owners was increasing the post-season field from 10 to 12 teams.
There had been talks about a 14-team field, but the two sides met in the middle on 12. It looks like this new format will involve the top two division winners in each league will get a bye to the divisional round while the other four teams in each league play a three-game wild-card series.
This, of course, is advantageous to the owners for obvious reasons, in that playoff games are extremely lucrative and adding an extra round of games means a whole bunch more revenue. Back in 2020, the post-season was expanded to 16 teams in order to help offset the revenue that was lost due to most of the season getting wiped by COVID-19.
The arguments against the expanded post-season field largely comes down to not wanting to water down the meaning of a 162-game season. I fully understand the argument and don’t necessarily love the idea of letting mediocre teams into the post-season, but I also cheer for a team that’s trapped in the American League East, so I’m not complaining.
This is a win for the Blue Jays, who finished sixth in the American League last year.
An International Draft might replace International Free Agency
This was a major sticking point over the final few days of the negotiation.
The owners badly wanted to scrap the International Free Agent system and replace it with a draft, which the players opposed because it ultimately means that international players will be losing some of their agency when it comes to choosing where they want to play.
The concession that the owners gave up in order to get the players to agree to an International Draft is removing the qualifying offer and tying free agents to compensatory draft picks. As we’ve seen many times in the past, teams will shy away from signing a free agent because they don’t want to give up a draft pick, so this will help the players earn more as free agents.
This part of the deal hasn’t been reached just yet. The two sides have until July 25 to agree on the terms around an International Draft that would start in 2024. If no deal is reached, International Free Agency and the qualifying offer system will remain in place. So, don’t worry, the Blue Jays will still get comp picks for Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien.
Assuming a deal is reached and with the information we currently have, this would be a win and a loss from Toronto’s perspective.
From the free-agent side, not having to lose a pick to sign a quality player is great for the Blue Jays if Rogers continues to spend as they have in the past few off-seasons. But, on the other hand, it’s also a loss because the Blue Jays have done very well in International Free Agency because they’re a desirable destination, so they’re losing a system where they’ve had success in the past.
For example, if this was a thing in the mid-2010s, there’s no saying if the Blue Jays would have wound up with Vladdy Jr., as he would have gone into a draft.
The luxury tax threshold is going up
Teams are going to be able to spend more money under MLB’s soft salary cap. The new luxury tax thresholds in the CBA increased to $230 million in 2022, and rises to $232 million, $236 million, $240 million, and $244 million throughout the agreement.
, only the Dodgers, Yankees, and Mets went over the luxury tax, while the Blue Jays were about $50 million beneath it.
This is obviously a win for the players, as the league’s richest teams, such as the aforementioned Yankees and Dodgers, will have even more cash to throw around, and other teams who come close to the maximum but don’t want to pass it, such as the Padres and White Sox, will have a bit more room to work with.
On the other side, it’s a loss for small market teams because it puts them even further behind the big spenders. For example, if you’re the Colorado Rockies, your ultra-rich divisional rival in Los Angeles has even more room to throw money at high-quality talent while your other rival in San Diego has more wiggle room to work with before having to worry about getting taxed.
For the Blue Jays, it could be a win depending on how willing Rogers is to spend money.
The Blue Jays are most certainly not a small-market team, so we don’t have to sit here and cry that the Yanks and Sox can spend even more cash to get good players, because Rogers has the money to compete with the big boys. But if Rogers doesn’t open the wallets, this ultimately just means the Blue Jays are falling a little further behind the likes of New York.
Go and sign Freddie Freeman, you cowards!!!