I'll make things clear, first off - this will not be a 500-word rant on why baseball should have a salary cap.
I'll make things clear, first off - this will not be a 500-word rant on why baseball should have a salary cap. I won't deny that I'm in the boat that endorses a salary cap in baseball, but I think we all can agree that, under current leadership, it simply won't happen.
However, parts of this new labor agreement that Major League Baseball has agreed upon confuses me. Parts of it almost make me wonder if baseball is looking out for the best interests of the league or if they're just catering to their mega-million love affairs with the Yankees and Red Sox.
Certain parts of the deal are acceptable and welcomed. The revamping of the free-agent compensation method has been needed for quite some time, as some players (especially relievers) found it hard to find work because they were classified as a Type A free agent, which meant that the signing team had to give up their first (or second) round draft pick in the upcoming draft.
HGH testing is another big thing that needed to come along. It's something that should help deter more young players (and experienced, washed-up veterans, too) to get to the major leagues the right way and not hulk up with needles and destroy the integrity of the game. And I will say that I am for the Houston Astros' move to the AL West - though I am against the circumstances in which it arose (through the new owner stating that it had to be done in order for him to buy the team).
The draft issue is what I'm concerned about. While I do agree that draft pick salaries have needed to be put in check for quite some time. Many of the agents - well, might I say, Scott Boras - have been demanding exorbitant amounts from teams to sign their rookies, claiming that they are "the next big thing." But the problem is, no one knows that. The players themselves don't even know that. Look at Brien Taylor, back in 1991. Boras got the Yankees to spend $1.55 million on him, the most at the time. The year previous, Todd Van Poppel, with help from Boras, got $1.2 million from the Oakland Athletics, and while Van Poppel reached the majors, he posted a career ERA of 5.58 - certainly nothing to write home about.
Recent picks have been even more absurd. In one of the more notable draft snafus, the Philadelphia Phillies wouldn't select J.D. Drew in 1997 because Boras wanted over $10 million in signing bonuses. And Stephen Strasburg - another Boras client - got over $15 million from the Nationals before he ever threw a pitch in the major leagues!
This luxury tax that the MLB has now imposed won't deter agents from asking for the moon for their "stars." It certainly hasn't done that with the free-agent luxury tax - the Yankees and the Red Sox continue to throw money to whomever they please. If you want to stop the draft bonuses, you have to set hard limits for how much a pick can make. A first round pick would still make more than, say, a sixth round pick, but they wouldn't be making $10 million a year. If they start performing like a superstar, then a team has all the power in the world to pay them like one.
In essence, this rookie tax does nothing to stop the egregious demands agents like Scott Boras are making. It just puts small-market teams, like the Twins and the Pirates, in more of a bind, and instead forces them to throw more money at over-priced free agents (many times, represented by the same agent). That's another issue I won't get into. But the new MLB is focusing heavily on drafting and development and this luxury tax does nothing but stunt that movement.
And, in all honesty, one thing fans across the nation are clamoring for is a competitive balance. This CBA does anything but bring a competitive balance. So prepare to be force fed more Yankees and Red Sox, because apparently that's all Bud Selig cares about.