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Breaking Down Winners and Losers of MLB Labor Deal

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There is a new collective bargaining agreement, with plenty of new wrinkles, but unless you count the personal chefs now required in each clubhouse, there will be no dramatic changes to the game of baseball as we know it.

The rich will stay rich, the poor will stay poor, the marquee free agents still will financially set every branch of their family tree up for life, and the pitch clock will stay unplugged in the closet.

The New York Yankees, who might be the biggest winners in the new agreement, vowed Thursday to restrain themselves, at least until the 2018 free agent class when they try to sign everyone from Bryce Harper to Manny Machado. The Los Angeles Dodgers, thanks to severe luxury tax penalties, will still spend like the Dodgers, shopping at Walmart instead of Neiman-Marcus.

And the Oakland Athletics, with no more subsidies from their rich neighbors, will be even more broke, watching their best players win World Series and MVP awards for other teams.

It will take time, of course, to fully digest baseball's new CBA, with the owners expected to vote on it Dec.13. But after listening to grumblings by agents, players and owners, it sure looks like an ideal agreement.

Here's a look at the winners and losers of baseball's new labor agreement -- guaranteeing an unprecedented streak of 26 consecutive years of labor peace.

Winner: The Yankees. Sitting in the country's No.1 market as America's marquee team, they no longer are required to pay a multiplier in revenue sharing, where they paid an extra 15% more than other teams. Oh, and as a bonus, they can fully deduct expenses from their new ballpark from the revenue-sharing bill. All in all, one Yankees official revealed, it could be an annual savings of $15 million to $20 million.

Loser: The Dodgers. If they don't slash their payroll by the 2018 season, they can be hit with a tax rate of 92% -- 50% for being a repeat violator and a 42% surtax for being at least $40million over the threshold, which starts at $195million next year. You're talking about a potential tax bill of about $70million.

Loser: The Athletics. They not only are stuck playing in a dump, but now they don't have anyone to pay their mortgage. The A's, who had been receiving about $34million in revenue sharing, now won't get a dime within three years since they reside in one of baseball's biggest marketplaces.

Winners: Chicago Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta and every other marquee free agent in the Class of 2017. Teams no longer are required to surrender a first-round pick to sign free agents and can't lose more than second- and fifth-round picks, even if already over the luxury tax. Kansas City Royals stars Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain quickly will learn how much money is out there for their services for free agency after 2018.

Loser: Jose Bautista, along with perhaps Mark Trumbo, Ian Desmond and others who rejected the $17.2million qualifying offer. The CBA came along a year too late for them. Why surrender a first-round pick for these guys now when you can wait a year and not sacrifice any? Players no longer can be subjected to qualifying offers more than once in the new CBA -- a stipulation that came a year too late for Desmond. So do these players take a one-year deal now and hit the market again?

Winner: Japan. The Japanese leagues not only can hang on to their stars until they're 25, but they get rich themselves in posting fees. They also might have a nice influx of young talent. Considering young Latin American amateurs no longer can receive contracts in excess of about $5million, several agents predict an exodus to Japan, where they can hone their crafts and get that huge payday after proving themselves there.

Loser: Shohei Otani, Japan's version of Babe Ruth with his 1.86 ERA and 22 homers. He tentatively was planning to leave Japan and come to the USA after next season. But with international rules requiring professional players to be at least 25 if they want unrestricted free agency, he will now wait until 2019, when he can hit a $200million jackpot rather than be limited to a $6million bonus. It's possible the rule could be tweaked for Otani with a new posting deal, but it's unlikely.

Winner: Established major league players tired of watching teams throw away money on amateur players who turned out to be busts. Say goodbye to those $72.5million deals that Rusney Castillo got from the Boston Red Sox and the $31.5million signing bonus the Red Sox paid to Yoan Moncada. The way the union figures it, the money saved in the amateur market will now be paid to veteran major league players.

Loser: The international amateur market and its agents, who made a killing in free agency. Teams now have the first international salary cap in CBA history and are restricted from spending more than $4.75million to $5.75million a year on foreign amateur players, depending on market size. The San Diego Padres spent about $35million on international amateur players last year.

Winner: The July31 trade deadline. Now that teams no longer can receive first-round picks by hanging on to their free agents until the end of the season, there will be a stronger urge to trade them at the deadline.

Loser: The tanking philosophy. Teams no longer can lose games on purpose for the goal of getting the No.1 pick and receiving a huge bump in draft dollars than having the No.2 or No.3 pick. The difference between last year's first pick and third pick was $2.5million. Those days are over with the slot-money allocations now flattened.

Winner: Foodies. For the first time in baseball history, every home clubhouse must employ a personal chef. The clubhouse attendants will gladly pass their cooking aprons to professionals.

Loser: The All-Star Game. The players spoke, and MLB listened, abolishing the 14-year experiment that the winner of the All-Star Game would determine home-field advantage. Now, home-field advantage will be determined by the World Series team with the best regular-season record. Every winning player in the All-Star Game will instead get cold, hard cash. We'll see if it affects the game's competitiveness.

Winner: Tony Gwynn's legacy. Gwynn, who died of salivary cancer after using smokeless tobacco during his Hall of Fame career, would be thrilled seeing the first ban of smokeless tobacco at the major league level. Veteran players are grandfathered in, so within 15 to 20 years there won't be a soul chewing tobacco in a major league uniform without risking penalty. Go ahead, call it the Tony Gwynn Rule.

Gwynn, whose family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a tobacco company, would be proud.

And so would Michael Weiner, the late union executive director who helped mend the ugly wounds between management and players years ago, clearing the way to make this agreement as peaceful as possible.

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December 2, 2016
 
 
 

 

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