Uncertainty over CBA could slow off-season
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.— With baseball’s collective bargaining agreement set to expire Dec. 1, trade talk and freeagent signings could go slowly this off-season.
Major league general managers gathered Monday for the start of their annual meeting, in the shadow of Camelback Mountain, with guitar music playing over speakers and the smell of mesquite in the hotel courtyard.
There is an extra level of uncertainty.
“We don’t know what rules we’re playing yet under,” Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. “Knowing some of that’s important, because I don’t really know what we’re dealing with, and you wouldn’t want something thrust upon you that surprised you — that there were penalties attached that you may not like or you may like.”
Negotiators for owners and players have been meeting since spring training and talks were set to continue this week in Arizona.
The sides have not reached agreement on many of the contentious issues, including management’s desire for a draft of international amateur players, the threshold where the luxury tax will start next year or whether there will be changes to the draft-pick compensation system for premier free agents. Baseball has not had a work stoppage since 1994-95, and commissioner Rob Manfred expresses confidence there will be an agreement by December.
“There’s certainly uncertainty until they do,” agent Scott Boras said. “I’m sure they’re going to want to know the impact of it. Why wouldn’t you?”
With teams operating under the rules of the old agreement, Toronto sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, and New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and second baseman Neil Walker were among 10 free agents to receive $17.2 million qualifying offers Monday. The others: Chicago Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler, os Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen and third baseman Justin Turner, Baltimore outfielder Mark Trumbo, Texas outfielder Ian Desmond and Philadelphia pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.
Players have until next Monday to accept. For free agents who decline and sign elsewhere, their new team loses a high selection in next June’s amateur draft and their old club gets an extra pick after the first round.
Approximately 160 major league free agents can start discussing money terms with all teams on Tuesday. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he already reached out to the agent for Aroldis Chapman, the hard-throwing closer who helped the Chicago Cubs win the World Series after a July trade from New York.
Cashman met Friday with Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner to discuss payroll budget.
“I’m not going to tell what the number is, but he gave me a number,” Cashman said.
The luxury tax threshold was $189 million for each of the last three seasons, and a record six teams are projected to pay this year: the Yankees ($27 million), the Los Angeles Dodgers ($25 million), Boston ($6 million), Detroit ($3.9 million), the Cubs ($3.7 million) and San Francisco ($3 million each).