Astros: A look at how the new MLB CBA affects the Stros

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Nov 8, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow during the MLB general managers meeting at the Omni Scottsdale Resort. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 8, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow during the MLB general managers meeting at the Omni Scottsdale Resort. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Looking at the new CBA through the eyes of an Astros fan.

Good morning Astros fans! Are you still hung over from all the Edwin Encarnacion rumors a couple of nights ago? I’m sorry to report that there has been no deal (yet) for the slugging first baseman. With all the reports being thrown around recently, it’s hard to know what is really going on. However, there was some real news.

After reportedly being reported as far apart by Ken Rosenthal, the MLB owners and the MLB Players Association agreed on the new CBA. This agreement came before the Midnight end of the old CBA on November 30th. Luckily, we have avoided any interruption in normally baseball operations for the next five years.

While I am not a lawyer like my Talking Stros co-host Brandon, I wanted to try to break down the new CBA. While the CBA governs the entire league, I wanted to try to let you know how it will affect your hometown 25. As a teacher, the term CBA is normally something that makes students cringe. In education, it means a benchmark test. However, in business terms, it stands for a Collective Bargaining Agreement.

There will be labor peace for the next five years. Hopefully, in that time, the Astros would have won their first World Series. Before I tell you about the items that were agreed upon, let’s look at the notable items that did not get added. Let’s look at some of the highlights of the new CBA from Jayson Stark’s article.

Didn’t Make the CBA

May 17, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (10) in the dugout between the second and third inning while playing against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
May 17, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (10) in the dugout between the second and third inning while playing against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

What I thought could have helped the Astros was the proposed 26-man active roster. Especially if the Astros add a ‘big bat,’ they could have carried an extra player on the roster such as Tony Kemp. The Astros like to carry 13 pitchers. This would have allowed them to carry 13 hitters. Part of the proposal also would set a roster with a max of 29 players during September callups. While it’s nice to have the extra players, too many players on the active roster can slow games down.

Also, there was a proposed international draft that would have replaced the current system. This was something the owners wanted to save money by drafting players instead of bidding for them. I didn’t look too much into the details, but I’m sure the signing bonus would be based on the slot they were drafted. Needless to say, the international draft was not well received by the MLBPA. This issue was one of the biggest struggles between both parties.

It’s all about the luxury-tax threshold.

According to Stark, teams seeking the premium free agents will no longer have to worry about losing a first round draft pick. If a team goes over, they will give up a second and fifth round pick. This will not hinder players who were offered a qualifying offers ability to sign with a new team. This happened this year with Jeremy Hellickson. The draft pick attached hurt his value. He accepted the qualifying offer. There are many more details that were changed, but that would be a separate post.

In other words, the Houston Astros will not have to give up a first round pick next offseason if they sign a top free agent. They would give up a third round pick instead as a team under the threshold. Unless there is a drastic change in plans, the Stros will most likely not have to worry about going over the threshold.

Speaking of the luxury-tax threshold, it will rise incrementally over the next five years. This means the rich will continue to get rich, but it wasn’t the raise that the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox were expecting.

The Rising Threshold.

There is some belief that while the threshold is increasing, it will still limit what the big payroll teams will be able to do. Let’s look at the increases in the thresholds over the next five years. Stark outlines the increases below.

2016 – $189 million

2017 – $195 million

2018 – $197 million

2019 – $206 million

2020 – $209 million

2021 – $210 million

Home field for World Series via All-Star game no more.

Also important to the Astros is what determines the home field for the World Series. It will no longer be which league wins the All-Star game, which was a joke. The Cubs were clearly the better team this year, but instead, the Indians got it. Now, the team with the better record will get it. Sorry Bud Selig, this is the right call.

10-Day DL

Also new, when Charlie Morton goes on the DL (sorry, just an example), it will no longer be a 15-day stay. The new CBA drops it down 10-day DL. This will help the teams make decisions quicker on putting a player on the DL, instead of waiting a few days.

More from Climbing Tal's Hill

Remember how Lourdes Gourriel had to wait till he was 23-years-old to get more money. He would have now had to wait until he was 25-years-old under the new rules of the CBA. This will make some international starts to wait a little longer to try to come to America.

Tobacco is banned.

Smokeless tobacco has been banned from baseball unless the player is currently a major leaguer. Any player that has played in the majors will be grandfathered in. This seems like a step in the right direction for those against using tobacco.

However, let’s say that an Astros rookie comes up to the big leagues and has his locker next to a veteran player. The rookie is recovering from breaking his addiction to dipping, but the veteran next to him gets to use it near him. It doesn’t seem fair that one player gets to do something while another doesn’t. This is coming from a guy who has never smoked or dipped in his life.

Next: Astros sign Aoki for $5.5 million for the 2016 season.

There were some other changes, but these were the primary issues. With the lockout averted and the Winter Meetings ready to launch in a few days, let’s finish what we started. Jeff Luhnow has been aggressive, so don’t stop now. Baseball took a while to recover from the1994 strike; both sides wanted to avoid a work stoppage.

***Most of the information, unless stated otherwise, comes from ESPN’s report on the agreement on the new CBA.***

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