The drop in earning power for middle players – veterans whose production could possibly be replaced by a novice – may be accelerated in this deal. There are always unintended consequences. But there seem to be some aspects that would make the game better.
Teams often keep outstanding job prospects in minors in an effort to squeeze an extra year of service time from them before they hit a free agency. Now, if a player places in the top two votes for Rookie of the Year, they get a full year of service time, regardless of when they were promoted. that’s fair. So is the number of times a player can be selected during a season, and the merit pool of $50 million is distributed to players who are not yet eligible for arbitration.
The owners pushed for an international draft, a complex issue that many Latin American players, such as San Diego shortstop Fernando Tates Jr., enthusiastically opposed. It took some time, but the university reasonably agreed to allow the union to study the matter and make a decision by late July, tying its passage to the revocation of the eligible offer, a limitation of free agency.
Perhaps most encouraging: the creation in 2023 of a joint committee, including four active players, a referee, and six people selected by the MLB, to consider rule changes such as larger rules, pitch clocks, shield transitions and an automatic strike zone. The committee can decide to change the rule and implement it within 45 days – again, a reasonable solution that gives players a voice in the rules of their workplace.
There are other logical wrinkles, like the world-designated hitter (no one wants their favorite pitcher to hurt themselves swinging a bat or running the bases) and sweepstakes for the top six in the draft, so the team itself can’t guarantee itself a top pick by staying shoddy for several years.
Advertising uniforms is a cliche, and we have to see how the expanded match field plays out in practice; From here, it seems like 12 teams is quite a lot. But if all of this comes together to make the game better, the sharpness will be worth it. The league and the players gave themselves a chance to reclaim baseball’s place in the patriotic spirit. Please, do not blow.
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