Should the Mets Get an Exception to the Rules?

It’s January 29th and Michael Bourn is still a free agent. While Scott Boras is known for pulling late-winter rabbits out of his hat, the new free agent compensation system is proving to be a significant roadblock. As we talked about a month ago, the changes to the draft slot allocations have caused a reaction — an overreaction, perhaps — in draft pick valuations, and teams are no longer as willing to sacrifice a first round pick to sign veteran free agents. Combined with questions about how well his defensive skills will hold up as he gets older and a premium asking price, the result has been a depressed market for Bourn’s services, and no obvious resolution to the standoff.

So, the Mets — likely with some influence by Scott Boras — are apparently considering asking Major League Baseball to declare their first round pick protected, even though it falls outside of the top 10 picks, which were the ones declared off limits to compensation in the CBA. And the argument is actually kind of interesting.

As laid out on page 89 of the CBA, compensation for signing a free agent who declined a qualifying offer is as follows:

(c) Signing Club.
i. A Club that signs one Qualified Free Agent who is subject
to compensation shall forfeit its highest available selection in the
next Rule 4 Draft. A Club that signs more than one Qualified Free
Agent subject to compensation shall forfeit its highest remaining
selection in the next Rule 4 Draft for each additional Qualified
Free Agent it signs. Notwithstanding the above, a Club shall not
be required to forfeit a selection in the top ten of the first round
of the Rule 4 Draft, and its highest available selection shall be
deemed its first selection following the tenth selection of the first
round.

That’s pretty clear – only the top 10 picks are protected. The Mets pick 11th. By a strict reading of the CBA, their first round choice is their “highest available selection”, and should be forfeited if they signed a free agent to whom compensation was attached. The letter of the law is pretty clear, and doesn’t leave much room for the Mets appeal to be granted.

However, the Mets may be able to make an argument that appeals to the spirit of the law. They pick 11th despite finishing with the 10th worst record in Major League Baseball last year, but were bumped out of the top 10 by virtue of the Pirates getting the 9th overall pick as compensation for failing to sign Mark Appel last summer. Had the Pirates signed Appel, the Mets would have a protected pick this winter.

So, is the rule designed to promote competitive balance — as MLB has always claimed — or is it simply a tax on player salaries, designed to drive down the market price for the top tier of free agents? If it’s the former, then the Mets can argue that the spirit of the law is to provide non-competitive teams with an advantage in the free agent market, and that they shouldn’t be deprived of that right simply because of the Pirates failure to sign their own first round pick last summer.

However, if the purpose of the draft pick compensation is to serve as a drag on free agent salaries, then it is performing its function exactly as intended, and MLB would have no real incentive to make an exception to the rules to help Bourn and the Mets find common ground in negotiations. MLB might not want to admit that the compensation rules have little to do with competitive balance and are simply a tax, since compensation has always been sold as a method to level the playing field. Making an adjustment to the language in the CBA to protect the first draft choice of the teams with the 10 worst records would allow Bourn’s situation to be resolved, and the player’s association has already indicated that they would support such an amendment.

So, essentially, this will come down to MLB’s interpretation of the intent of the rule. If the owners simply see it as a tax that they want to continue to enforce in order to drive down player salaries, then they have every reason to deny the Mets appeal for an exception. And, the fact that the language of the CBA is so clear about which picks are to be protected means that they can state that they’re simply abiding by the rules that were agreed to last year, giving them a decent enough cover without having to implicitly state that they want to keep the tax in place.

But, if the idea behind the compensation system was actually to promote competitive balance, then perhaps MLB should immunize the Mets from having to sacrifice their first round pick to sign Michael Bourn. Changing the rules in the middle of an off-season doesn’t seem fair, but the change would be narrow enough that no other team would be affected by the change, as the Mets were the only franchise pushed out of the top 10 by the Pirates failure to sign Appel. No other franchise could claim that the agreed upon rules had a material affect on whether or not their first round pick should be considered their “highest available selection”.

My guess is that MLB will rule against the Mets and declare that their pick is still eligible for forfeit, but it might be a more interesting decision that it seems on its face. If Major League Baseball is serious about continuing the charade that draft pick compensation is for the benefit of losing teams, making an exception for the Mets would be a good way to support that claim.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


171 Responses to “Should the Mets Get an Exception to the Rules?”

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  1. Sparkles Peterson says:

    So if MLB doesn’t make an exception to a very explicitly-worded rule, the entire competitive balance thing falls apart and this is revealed to be all about money-grubbing.

    You know, I pretty much always side with the players and MLBPA on these issues, but that is just absolutely ridiculous.

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    • Dan says:

      He didn’t say that the entire thing falls apart. The entire thing has already fallen apart. It’s just one more thing that pulls back the curtain on the draft.

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    • Blue says:

      It’s particularly cheeky coming from Boras after Matt White and Bobby Seay.

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    • Ashitaka says:

      It’s not ridiculous at all. MLB has always touted this particular rule as being in place to help out teams who finish with bad records. The Pirates not signing Appel should have no bearing on it, if that’s really the case.

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  2. Dan says:

    “My guess is that MLB will rule against the Mets and declare that their pick is still eligible for forfeit, but it might be a more interesting decision tha[n] it seems on its face.”

    The draft is about suppressing player salaries, period. I’l be very, very surprised if they rule for the Mets on this one.

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    • jimbo says:

      All the more reason they SHOULD side with the Mets. As Dave noted, it isn’t like the floodgates would open for other teams to cry “me too.” And it would be a relatively good defense for PR/image control in the future, for what seems to me a fairly small price to pay.

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    • philosofool says:

      It is also about competitive balance, because the two go hand in hand. If everyone were a free agent from day one, the Yankees and the Dodgers financial edge would send the Rays and Royals into permanent irrelevance. Yes, owners have a reason to suppress player salaries, but so do fans and GMs.

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  3. Forrest Gumption says:

    I think only in this specific case with Bourn and the Mets that MLB should let it slide. But they have to use this case to officially add in that addendum for future Pirates/Appel cases that affect other teams in this way.

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    • Jonathan says:

      A part of me wants to say let it slide, but the bulk of me says no.

      It sets a very dangerous precedent and the Mets agreed to this method over a year ago.

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      • AK7007 says:

        What is the dangerous precedent? That MLB should act like human beings run it?

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      • Forrest Gumption says:

        Its hardly a “dangerous precedent” at all. So what if teams don’t lose a draft pick for signing a FA because teams that drafted in front of them didn’t sign their guy? Pretty much all teams view the draft as more important than ever before, no one is going to abuse it by trying to draft a guy they have no shot at getting. Appel is not the norm to begin with, generally college and high school players actually badly want to sign, its the culmination of their lives at that point.

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    • Spike says:

      obviously it’s not going to be changed just for the Mets in 2013. The rule needs to be changed bc the situation is going to occur again.

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    • TKDC says:

      This comment assumes that the rule in place is not exactly what MLB wants. And if they let it slide for the #11 pick, why not for the #12 pick? How about the #22 pick?

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      • Renan says:

        This argument makes no sense. The agreement is that the first 10 picks should be protected. The only issue is whether that should mean the literal first 10 picks or the first round picks of the teams with the 10 worst records. I don’t see how this is a slippery slope argument unless you’re arguing that there’s going to be a year when the entire top 10 doesn’t sign their picks. I’m sure even MLB could handle that eventuality without worrying about some sham “dangerous precedent” or whatever

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      • Rob says:

        The rule could be made to apply only to teams that would have had a top 10 pick but for being bumped out of the top 10 by a teams that failed to sign a player the year prior. Maybe it would be extended to 12 teams sometimes. But doubtful 22 teams. In other words, it’s not a very slippery slope.

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      • B N says:

        And this is why slippery slope arguments are usually incredibly stupid. Is the #25th pick going to end up marrying a dog too? Or is the slope not quite that slippery?

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      • TKDC says:

        The point is the first unprotected pick always seems like a raw deal.

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      • monkey business says:

        they could get around this by increasing the qualifying offer required to grab a sequentially higher pick. i.e. if a player turns down a $100M deal over any number of years, you can take any draft spot when another team picks them up, on down to $13.1M for the #10 spot, and then keep it going with $10M for #11. This removes the focus on the $13.1 and makes it a bit more interesting… want to block them from the Yankees? Offer $3M. Want to block them from the Twins? Offer them money that can’t be counted but must be weighted instead.

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      • TKDC says:

        I’m honestly surprised this got voted down. My only point was that any arbitrary endpoint would seem unfair. How is the fact that the Mets were pushed to the first team out any less fair than another team that would be there by virtue of winning one more game than the Mets? It wasn’t a slippery slope argument but you did let B N sell you that it was (perhaps you just thought his joke was funny, which it was).

        As for allowing multiple qualifying offers, I don’t think that would work. I think a better argument would be based on the free agent signing. something like, if the deal is for 3 or fewer years at less than the qualifying offer amount, all first round picks are safe. Perhaps you could even tier it more, such as if you sign a one year deal for less than 10 million, the team doesn’t lose its pick.

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  4. Pat says:

    Isn’t it true that the previous CBA would have protected this pick, but the wording was changed in the current CBA? If so, it would make no sense to grant an exemption to a rule that was explicitly changed so recently.

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  5. dday0606 says:

    Methinks the Braves would protest too loudly.

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    • Josh says:

      Why would they care? They’re only getting a sandwich pick regardless of where he goes.

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      • dday0606 says:

        oops. my fault, didn’t know that had changed.

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      • Spencer says:

        They would probably still care, at least a little. That takes one more player off the board in the draft before the Braves pick. It also hurts a bit more because the Braves will see whoever the prospective first round pick is 18 times a year. If the Mets do get an exception, I’d expect the Braves would be getting at least something in return. Probably just cash.

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      • That Guy says:

        You don’t think they’d care about whether or not the Mets (you know, as a division rival) get the 11th pick in this draft?

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      • Spike says:

        and the Braves won’t be getting any sandwich round pick unless Bourn signs with a team before the next amateur draft in June so they do have some skin in the game as far as wanting Bourn to sign somewhere and as of now it appears as if the Mets are the only team even sniffing around.

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  6. Elbo says:

    No impact on the Braves. Either way they get a supplemental round pick. They do not get the Mets pick under the new system.

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    • akalhar says:

      Well, that isn’t quite true, but it might as well be true.

      The Braves get to pick one selection higher (as do many other teams) if the Mets pick is eliminated. Each team gets a slightly higher pool to spend as a result.

      I don’t think the amount or being one pick higher is really that significant to any team after pick #11, so this makes little practical difference to anyone except the Mets.

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  7. nope says:

    The problem in this case in that the Pirates didn’t get that 9th pick by playing horrible, they got it because they failed to sign a draft pick last year. The pirates had the 14th best record and their pick from 2012 is not protected; the system as it is currently is ‘rewarding’ the pirates for their ineptitude 2 years ago, while the Mets lose out on Bourn because it would cost them a draft pick they ‘earned’ in 2012.

    The intention of the rule is supposed to give bad teams a chance to rebound easier. MLB could, and should, make a quick amendment to the rule to ONLY account for draft picks acquired as a result of team record in the past season. Holdovers such as what the Pirates have hurt a weak team further by forcing them to decide on good free agents or good prospects.

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    • Jonathan says:

      But then you’re retroactively mucking with rules that were in place prior to the new CBA. If you change it, you’re screwing the Pirates.

      You basically have to either: screw the Pirates for something they didn’t agree to it (That being letting the Mets keep their pick at their own detriment), or

      Screw the Mets over a rule they agreed to themselves.

      The only other alternative is to let the Mets keep a pick slotted behind the Pirates’ pick, but then you’re screwing every team picking behind them.

      No matter what, somebody’s getting screwed. In the end, the only logical team that should have to suffer is the one that agreed to deal with this in the first place. Sucks to be the Mets here, but this is what they agreed to when they signed on with the new CBA.

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      • Dan says:

        I don’t understand how the Pirates would be getting screwed.

        As for screwing every other team, you’re only doing so slightly, and being pushed down one pick by another pick slotting in, be it a sandwich pick or whatever, is something every team should be very used to by now. It’s not that big of a deal. Grant an exception and then re-write the rule so that from now on it isn’t an exception. Otherwise, Dave’s point stands. The draft could be about both bringing down salaries and providing competitive balance, but I’m sure MLB’s ruling on this will further reveal that it is only about the former.

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      • Spike says:

        the only way that another team would get screwed depends on how they were to “fix” this problem. If they said that all “do-over” picks like the one the Bucs are getting do not get protected status regardless of where it falls (since it was protected the first time in 2012) and thus if the Bucs wanted to sign a Qualified FA this winter, it could cost them their highest pick which might be that one even if it falls in the top ten…

        but more realistically, an accommodation will simply be made to protect the bottom ten finishing teams in addition to whatever do-over picks may need to be slotted. That way, no teams would be hurt by this fix.

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      • AK7007 says:

        How do the Pirates get screwed? Which compensation FA did they sign? All the change would do is give the Mets a protected pick when the spirit of the rules says that they should.

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      • Bad Bill says:

        Even if Pittsburgh had signed a free agent who declined a QO, they would have lost their regular #1 choice, the one they’re supposed to use slot #14 for, regardless of whether they had the extra choice in the top ten as compensation for not signing Appel. The Mets’ situation is basically irrelevant to them, except in the same sense as it is relevant to everyone else, i.e., whether the overall draft beyond slot #11 has one particular player in it (the one the Mets would take with that slot) or not, as Dan’s comment explains. Pittsburgh is not particularly “screwed” if MLB decides to honor the Mets’ request.

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      • zbelair says:

        The Mets do not intend to sign Bourn if it means they lose the pick, so this really isn’t an issue for the rest of the teams in the way you say. This goes one of two ways:

        If the MLB says no, the Mets pass on Bourn and keep the 11th pick. This hurts Bourn of course because he has one less option, and the Mets because it makes it harder to acquire an asset. To some degree it does benefit the rest of the league because they are not affected, so relatively they gain on a competitor.

        If they say yes, the Mets sign Bourn and keep the pick (this assumes they wouldn’t pass on Bourn after the ruling which would make this whole topic pointless). This benefits the Mets and Bourn, and hurts the rest of the league in relative terms again.

        So if a team wants to argue that they get “screwed” because of an increase/decrease in relative competitive advantage, then they should just sign Bourn before the ruling, exploiting their relative competitive advantage over the Mets, who won’t be making a move until after the MLB makes a decision (presumably).

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  8. brian says:

    Yeah let’s just make the rules up as we go. Everyone knew the 10th worst team wouldn’t get a protected pick this year because of the Pirates pick.

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    • Dan says:

      There is such a thing as the spirit of a rule, and sometimes it is fitting that we should use common sense in order to determine when this is. I think it was Bill James who wrote something like: “The rules conform to the logic instead of the logic conforming to the rules”. See the above comment by nope, which explains it very well.

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      • Lukehart80 says:

        But the “spirit of the rule” argument doesn’t really apply here. The previous contract explicitly made compensation picks exempt from the counting on this sort of thing, but the sides agreed to remove that language this time. They’d clearly considered this specific sort of situation, and chose not to keep that protection.

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      • Dan says:

        Yeah, you could be right. That being said, if the spirit of the draft is to promote competitive balance, seems to me that the rule should be changed going forward.

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    • Spike says:

      it seems like it’s late to fix the rule given that all parties did sign off on this language, but it’s clearly a mistake that we’re seeing play out now, not just bc I’d like to see the Mets sign Bourn w/o losing their 1st rd pick, but bc the O’s could just as likely have been the team getting the extra pick for failing to sign their 2012 pick and that would also have nudged the Mets out of protection and the O’s won 93 games last season. What’s fair about that?

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      • Dan says:

        There has to be some flexibility on rules, especially when they’re new. If everyone goes Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia about rules right at the outset, all sorts of silliness is locked into place, and for very little benefit.

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      • Lukehart80 says:

        What’s fair about it is that both sides agreed to it at the last round of negotiations. There used to be language protecting picks like the Mets’ in almost exactly this sort of situation (used to be picks 1-15). That language was actively removed this time around.

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      • Spike says:

        Lukehart:
        you’re right. all the parties signed off on this. So everyone is at fault for letting this fly. That’s prob the biggest/only reason not to make the change now. Aside from that, the rule is just dumb and needs to be corrected.

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      • Anon21 says:

        Drop the rule fetishism. If the rule is bad and no one’s settled expectations are upset by changing it, change it immediately.

        It would be a different case if the Mets were asking MLB to un-protect someone else’s pick. But they aren’t.

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  9. rotowizard says:

    As a Pirates fan, thanks for the reminder that I hate Scott Boras. I had almost forgotten.

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    • MakeitRayn says:

      How ironic, Boras screws himself/Bourn out of some money after trying to save his other client some money (Appel).

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      • TKDC says:

        It’s really hard to understand what he was trying to do with Appel.

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      • The Rajah says:

        It is great that Boras is to blame for this mess. Of course, the way to remove all problems is to make every contract a 1-year deal so that every player becomes a free agent after each season with no team compensation. This makes every player play hard every year and removes the team’s reason for using compensation as a way to control salaries.

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      • Pirates Hurdles says:

        Its not hard at all RE;Boras/Appel. He knew the 2013 draft class was even weaker than the 2012 one at the top. As soon as the slot money fell below $5 million Boras chose to not negotiate and get his guy more money in 2013. Now the intrigue sets in as to whether Houston will draft Appel #1 and low ball offer him to save slot money for elsewhere. It will be interesting to see if Boras is proven right and gets more than $3.1 million that the Bucs could offer. He likely will do so.

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      • Andrew says:

        Out of curiosity, what # do you think justifies Boras as being “proven right?” His client lost some ML development time and may be further from Super-Two status now, etc., and has to undergo a year of injury risk.

        Perhaps I am overstating the negatives, but I’m still pretty sure that number isn’t $3.15 million.

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      • TKDC says:

        Sorry Pirates Hurdles, but even with your explanation it seems like a stupid move to me. He goes into this year with zero leverage. I doubt he gets more than slot money, maybe less.

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  10. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    Are we sure it’s Bourn the Mets want and not Lohse?

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  11. bkgeneral says:

    Does this open the door for either Marlins or Astros? Both teams have incredibly low payrolls, so they would have surplus money to actually front load a contract. A deal for Bourn that looked something like 5/$65 million, with a $20 million signing bonus (no state income tax in both Florida and Texas). Bourn could be offered a limited no trade (2-4 teams), then openly look to deal him anytime after 6/15/13. Trading what at that point is a team friendly contract, while Bourn has gotten a contract of actual cash value right in line to what Upton got. Prospect return would only need to equal $25 million.

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  12. Klements Sausage says:

    Ordinarily, I’d doubt that MLB rules in the Mets’ favor too. However, MLBPA has to be pretty pissed about this and ought to be wielding whatever influence it has to get this rule amended. In hindsight, it seems silly that their pick is unprotected purely because of the Appel situation.

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  13. Eric R says:

    Wouldn’t a change calling a pick like the Pirates got a ‘supplemental pick between the 8th and 9th picks’ solve the problem and not even require a change to the wording in the CBA?

    That said– if you were going to estimate the value of a #11 pick and the #20-30 picks, doesn’t this system already give the best teams from the previous year a pretty big edge in terms of signing FAs over the teams that were below average, but not bad enough to get a protected pick?

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    • Spike says:

      it’s a good point you raise. the penalty for a good team to sign a Qualified FA is much less than the penalty for a bad team like the Mets were. Is it appropriate for the league to effectively have a policy that discourages a team like the Mets from signing one of the better FAs since it means the loss of a high draft pick? as you said, the value of the 11th pick is much higher than the value of the 25th pick, say. but the penalty is applied w/o prejudice whether you have the 11th or 28th pick.

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      • Bad Bill says:

        Is the value of the 11th pick really “much” higher than the 25th pick? By slot #11 we’re already getting to the point in the draft where selections are something of a crapshoot, with worthwhile careers by draftees in that slot being a minority. Only 8 of the 43 guys drafted #11 through 2007 (I exclude more recent drafts where players haven’t had time to make the majors yet) have career WARs above 5, or look like they’re going to reach that not-particularly-lofty standard before they quit. Fact is, a slot out of the top ten — or maybe even top five — isn’t all that valuable.

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      • Eric R says:

        Sure. But increase the sample, by looking at some neighboring picks:

        #12 14/43
        #13 10/43
        #14 13/43
        #15 9/43
        #16 12/43

        #10 16/43
        #9 10/43
        #8 12/43

        I suppose it is possible that having #11 is actually worse than having #12-16, but my guess is that there is some SSS issues there.

        The average #9-13 pick, from the data above, is at a 26% chance [58/215] of being at least a fringe MLBer [25% for picks 11-15]

        The #23-25; 28/215 = 13%

        After doing that, I see BB-Ref has some summary data at the bottom; here are the percentage of picks that made it to the majors and their average rWAR:

        #9: 60%, 7.8 rWAR
        #10: 81%, 10.0
        #11: 64%, 3.4
        #12: 64%, 8.2
        #13: 52%, 10.4
        AVG 65%, 8.0 rWAR per MLBer, 5.2 rWAR per drafted player.

        #23: 47%, 5.1 rWAR
        #24: 54%, 3.7
        #25: 56%, 4.5
        #26: 45%, 4.9
        #27: 54%, 3.6
        AVG 52%, 4.3 rWAR per MLBer, 2.2 rWAR per drafted player.

        Seems reasonably significant to me…

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    • Steve says:

      i like it

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    • Antonio bananas says:

      That’s a great idea actually. I think that the Mets should get the pick protected, but they play in a huge market with a high payroll capacity in the same division as my braves who have the worst tv deal…so fuck them, they don’t get it protected.

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  14. jdbolick says:

    As Baseball America pointed out, the old CBA had language specifically excluding new picks from non-signings from counting against the top 15 threshold. There is no such clause in the new CBA, and taking that out from the top 10 threshold in the new CBA appears to signal intent against precisely that. So it’s probably not a mistake or oversight, and the Mets really don’t have a leg to stand on.

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  15. Spike says:

    the point Dave raised about the rule being at least partially intended to suppress salaries isn’t really so, or it’s a very weak way of accomplishing it. At most, it’s only going to affect the salaries of a few players. And if you take that stance, then the rule is effectively there to protect the owners from themselves…? Teams may have to think twice about making a $13M QO if players may think harder about accepting in the future rather than risk what Bourn and Lohse are experiencing. Heck, there were so few QOs this winter as it is… I bet we see even fewer next winter the effect of which is should be to increase salaries, not the opposite.

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  16. Dennis Abrams says:

    If we stop talking about this will it just go away. Even if the draft pick weren’t an issue, I don’t understand why the Mets would pursue Bourn. They’re a rebuilding with a questionable budget.
    Even a reasonably priced player of Bourn’s ability wouldn’t be a smart buy for the Mets, nor would a reasonably talented player at Bourn’s asking price. He would be nowhere near worth what precious little money the Mets have.

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    • Spike says:

      if Bourn gets a better offer than he may get from the Mets, he’ll go there. Point is he seems to be w/o offers at the moment.

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      • That Guy says:

        Or. He’s fielding his one offer, and Boras wants to open his market up artificially.

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      • Pirates Hurdles says:

        I love how people are underestimating Boras. Did we learn nothing just a few weeks ago when he got Soriano a big deal when it appeared no one wanted him either? Last year about this time in January he pulled Detroit out of a hat for Prince when no one though he woudl get a big contract. Boras will find a suitor and I bet it is someone lying in the weeds.

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      • Spike says:

        it takes two to tango, no?

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      • Breadbaker says:

        Did he pull a Gillooly on Victor Martinez?

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    • zbelair says:

      If the Mets were able to get Bourn at a steep enough discount then of course it makes sense. It wouldn’t suddenly make them contenders, but it would provide an upgrade to probably the worth OF in baseball, and more importantly to the Wilpon’s (sadly) it would “signal” they will spend money and potentially put some extra fans in the seats.

      Even when rebuilding every team should be interested in finding assets at less than market value, and later in the contract it’s possible they could flip him to a contender for new pieces.

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  17. Spike says:

    I say the Mets should just sign Bourn to a minor league deal and let the league proceed to their freak out over it since it would circumvent draft compensation.

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    • TKDC says:

      They would just take their draft pick anyway, and probably quietly and without freaking out.

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      • Spike says:

        If he gets no other offers, then on what basis would the league be permitted to act against the Mets?

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      • TKDC says:

        Signing a minor league deal with a side agreement to circumnavigate the rules is against the rules, and expressly so. You can argue that Bourn has zero major league offers right after you explain to me why the Earth is flat.

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      • Spike says:

        If Bourn had viable offers, do you think he’d be discussing a discounted deal with the lowly Mets and having to appeal to the league to fix this rule?

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      • Spike says:

        and who said anything about a side agreement?

        Point is, why is it even in the cba (that signing a minor league contract absolves a team of draft pick compensation) if the league is just going to smack down a team for doing that? Seems like another blatant problem with the cba, imo.

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      • TKDC says:

        It does seem a bit silly, but really the silly thing is the exception being there in the first place. Since the exception to the exception pretty much swallows it up, it is kind of meaningless.

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  18. TKDC says:

    MLB should rule against the Mets for two reasons.

    1) The rule is unambiguous.

    2) The “spirit” of the rule is not really to protect the worst 10 teams in baseball, but the best ten picks in the draft. There is always going to be someone who is first in line for the cutoff. It just happens to be the Mets, and their is a situation that was very predictable beforehand (a failed draft pick signing, something that happens all the time) that caused it. If the Mets were exempted, the team that is currently drafting #12 would have just as good an argument for an exemption as well. That’s the nature of arbitrary cutoffs.

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    • Spike says:

      wrong. it is intended to protect the ten worst teams so that if they wanted to improve their lot by signing one of the better FAs, they wouldn’t also lose their draft pick.

      if two teams from the previous year failed to sign their draft picks and thus slotted into the top ten and nudged two teams out of protection, the rule fix would have to accommodate that. The point is not to simply have protection go to 11.

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      • TKDC says:

        Odd that you think that when in fact the rules protect the top 10 picks, not the worst 10 teams. If a rules were intended purely for competitive balance, more than the previous seasons W-L record would be needed to determine what, if any, compensation should be included.

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    • Johnhavok says:

      “The “spirit” of the rule is not really to protect the worst 10 teams in baseball, but the best ten picks in the draft.”

      Yes, and the first 10 picks are intended to go to the 10 worst teams. The compensation picks from failing to sign a pick in the previous draft are already protected whether they are in the top 10 or not.

      It’s just one of those things where the wording of the rule doesn’t accurately reflect it’s intent.

      The way the rule is written right now, say there were no picks on the books this year for compensation of failing to sign a pick last year and the 10 worst teams had the top 10 picks, as per usual. If every single one of those teams failed to sign their picks from 1-10, and next year somehow every single one of those teams finished better than the bottom 10, the only bottom 10 team from 2013 that would have a protected pick in 2014 is the team who picks #1.

      Yes it’s an extreme example that would never happen, but it just illustrates the impact of the current wording of the rule and how it doesn’t truly follow the spirit in which it was written.

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      • TKDC says:

        If the top 10 picks are supposed to go to the worst 10 teams, why do the Pirates have a top 10 pick? This wasn’t some odd occurrence. This is after the fact “rationalization.”

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      • Spike says:

        aren’t the first ten picks supposed to represent the worst ten teams?

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      • TKDC says:

        No. teams have gotten compensation picks in the top ten for failing to sign previous picks for several years. If the people who made this rule did not contemplate this, they are incredibly stupid. I don’t understand arguing under the assumption that the rule makers are incredibly stupid.

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      • Spike says:

        what’s the point of protecting the first 10 picks if not to give an assist to the worst teams in the league? Awarding a do-over pick for failing to sign a previous yr’s pick is a questionable practice enough, then to add nudging a team out of protection for it, and it’s that much more dumb. Any rational-minded person can see where this has gone off the rails… even tho all the parties agreed to this.

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      • TKDC says:

        The point isn’t protecting shitty teams. The point is that a team should not lose such a valuable pick just for signing a guy. The agreement sets that value at top 10. The Mets #11 pick is no more valuable than whoever would draft #11 if Appel signed.

        It’s set this way because no one would sign someone if they lost the #1 pick, and the chances of a team forfeiting a pick for a free agent increase from there. #11 was chosen as the arbitrary line for when forfeiting a pick was not so bad a detriment.

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      • Spike says:

        if the rule were merely in place to help the FA market, the why not just protect any 10 teams? what about every third team? that would add up to ten teams also, and thus you have ten teams who aren’t burdened by that pesky draft pick loss. Doh! Of course it’s meant to help the 10 bottom teams. Why else choose to protect them specifically?!

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      • Andrew says:

        That’s not really how it would work, Spike, as if you randomly failed to protect the teams with the top five picks those teams would likely be out of the market. Protecting the top ten picks means that (hypothetically) all teams are in the market.

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      • chuckb says:

        If MLB was adamant that the first 10 picks have to go to the 10 worst teams, they either wouldn’t compensate teams who don’t sign their first round picks the previous year or they’d give them a supplemental pick rather than allowing them to pick in the same spot the next year.

        I think it’s pretty clear that MLB intended to allow teams like the Pirates to pick in the top 10 and that MLB intended to not protect teams like the Mets who end up selecting 11th.

        I’m not making a judgment as to whether that’s right or wrong, but it’s pretty clear that MLB is getting what MLB wanted here…and the players agreed to it at the time. I’d be surprised if this is something that no one thought about ahead of time.

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      • Spike says:

        chuck:
        how could you be certain that “mlb is getting what mlb wanted”?

        Unintended consequences of deals/contracts/agreements happen all the time. I think the question they should have to answer is why would they set up a system where a team with a much better record in the just concluded season could bounce a far inferior team from draft comp protection.

        The practice of rewarding a team with a do-over draft pick is already questionable but doing it in a manner that could royally screw up another team is a pretty egregious application of the rules.

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    • jdbolick says:

      Correct. I don’t know why people are ignoring the point I already made that the old CBA included language expressly addressing this. Courtesy of Baseball America:

      The Regular Draft Choice of the signing Club described in subparagraph (c) above shall not include any selection in the Rule 4 Draft awarded as compensation for failure to sign a Rule 4 Draft selection from the preceding year and shall be assigned as follows. If the signing Club is among the first half of selecting Clubs, excluding selection(s) awarded as compensation for failing to sign a Rule 4 selection from the preceding year, then the choice to be assigned for the highest ranking free agent Player signed by such Club shall be its second choice . . .

      The fact that this clause was removed in the new CBA at least suggests that everyone involved specifically intended for teams in the Mets’ situation not to keep their draft pick.

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      • Spike says:

        I think we get that. The issue is more that did they envision a scenario where a team that may have won 93 games could nudge a team that won just 74 games out of protection and is that how the system should work? If not, then fix it.

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      • jdbolick says:

        Yes, that’s the whole point. They removed that language precisely because this is the result they wanted. The Mets do not deserve or warrant any special consideration.

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    • Evan_S says:

      What would the team that has the twelfth pick’s argument be exactly?

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  19. Michael says:

    Is there an expiration to when you have to forfeit a pick if you sign the player? Say the season starts, does this rule go away and you are free to sign them without a pick compensation? If not, what about if the draft passes and he’s still unsigned, however unlikely that is?

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    • Spike says:

      the next amateur draft. Once that passes, compensation no longer applies.

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      • Michael says:

        That makes sense, but because it says “next” couldn’t that also just mean whatever the next draft is? Like if you wait past this year’s draft the next one is just the 2014 draft then?

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  20. Brendan says:

    The rules have to be followed as written. ‘Spirit of the rule’ arguments should be discussions of how the rules can be changed to more effectively serve their purposes in the future: if you want to talk about rewording this rule to protect against this happening to other teams later, fine. But right now the rule is written very clearly, and the league should NEVER bend a rule to favor one team.

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  21. Johnhavok says:

    Obviously the true intent of the wording is to keep FA salaries in check, but the spirit of the rule is sold as giving the bottom 10 teams a slight bonus for being crappy to try and get back to being competitive.

    I think the issue here is whether or not the protected nature of picks that are awarded for failing to sign a pick in the previous year should also fall into the sme protection category of the top 10 picks.

    To me, the top 10 picks are protected to ensure that the teams of the worst 10 records get the first chance at the best draft picks, plus a chance to spend money without losing a pick.

    A pick is also awarded to a team and protected because they failed to sign a guy the year before. Isn’t that pick already potentially protected for two years regardless of whether it’s in the top 10?

    So what happens in the future if a team fails to sign the #1 pick in 2013? Their pick would be protected for the next 10 drafts if they failed to sign the #2 slot in 2014, or the #3 slot in 2015 etc because all of those would fall in the first 10 picks all the while possbily finishing outside of the bottom 10?

    To me the answer is simple going forward, change the wording of the protection to simply state that the teams with atht worst 10 records get their normal 1st round pick protected, and any other picks that may have been awarded due to failing to sign a pick the year before also remain protected as normal. End of problem.

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    • Ian R. says:

      Unless it was changed in the most recent CBA, the rules say that compensation picks for failure to sign a previous pick are not eligible for further compensation. That is, if the Pirates don’t sign their #9 pick, they don’t get the #10 pick next year. That pick is just gone.

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      • Bad Bill says:

        My understanding is that this is no longer the case, although it was until the latest revision of the CBA. It is claimed that the current version has a two-strikes extension, i.e., this year’s pick would also produce a compensation pick if he goes unsigned, but that’s as far as it goes. Clarification from someone who actually knows the language of the current CBA would be appreciated.

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  22. Eminor3rd says:

    This is a big “no” for me. This would set a major precedent that could lead to the whole system failing due to appeals about the “spirit” of rules like this. If they want to change it, it should happen in the next CBA.

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    • jimbo says:

      then let those appeals come i say.

      when putting together the CBA i would imagine at least SOME of it is about making the league better (who’s ‘better’ is debateable). when every scenario can’t be thought of in advance, but rules still need put in a book, why not make ammendments along the way?

      if both sides agree to a change/exception, then isn’t baseball better off? you’re advocating for the type of strictness that lets bad rules (or badly written rules) drag the sport down.

      if this ‘avalanche’ of appeals does come, sort through the frivolous ones and deal with those that have merit. what’s the downside to that???

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      • Eminor3rd says:

        Because this isn’t obviously a “bad” rule. You have to make the cutoff point exist somewhere. Why is ten instead of 15? Why not twnety? Why not 8?

        They two parties involved negotiated this rule together, and they’ll negotiate again in 5 years. If you set a precedent that any team can protest a rule for its “spirit” solely on the fact that that one team would be better off, you’re going to get get all kinds of garbage with no basis for fairness or not.

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  23. chiefglockandhummer says:

    “Changing the rules in the middle of an off-season doesn’t seem fair, but the change would be narrow enough that no other team would be affected by the change, as the Mets were the only franchise pushed out of the top 10 by the Pirates failure to sign Appel.”

    How is it more fair because only one team explicitly chosen by MLB would benefit? That seems less like fairness and more like large-market exceptionalism.

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    • jimbo says:

      Because they DO have an argument that their 11th pick should be treated as a top 10 pick under the rule. If there were TWO Appel-ish picks then the Mets AND team #12 would have the same argument.

      Since there’s only one Appel, then only the team can make said argument.

      It’s a bit of chicken imo. IF the Mets keep their pick, everyone behind them stays put…nobody is ‘harmed.’ Should they only sign Bourn if keeping #11, everyone behind them still stays put.

      Now if the Mets sign Bourn before getting resolution, and the teams behind them think they’ve just moved up one slot in the draft? Then any decision by MLB would stand to ‘harm’ teams.

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  24. Karl says:

    The true spirit of the entire CBA from an ownership perspective is “oh come on, I guess by law we have to negotiate with these people, but we are going to give them the bare minimum necessary, we will maximize our control and our profits.” The true spirit of the entire CBA from a player perspective is “we have a legal right to negotiate this, and this is a list of all of the concessions we could possibly get in order to maximize player control and salaries, along with a list of all of the rules governing us that we are willing to put up with.”
    The “true spirit” analysis is irrelevant to what should happen in this case. If the old CBA had a provision similar to the one the Mets, Boras, Bourn, and the players want applied now, they obviously knowingly conceded it away for the sake of other provisions in the CBA. The negotiation process is binding when the CBA reflects the intent of the parties.
    Is it silly? Sure, from one perspective. But so are most CBA provisions. Such as, for instance, the Rule 4 draft. Or the limits on international signings. Or salary caps.

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  25. Johnhavok says:

    You can’t ignore the “spirit of the rule” arguements, when that’s exactly what the MLB uses when it rules against contracts or situations that attempt to circumvent the CBA.

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    • TKDC says:

      Like the personal service contracts? Which of those were retroactively nullified or applied for luxury tax purposes? Right, none of them. This is a freaking express rule, and not a difficult scenario to foresee at all.

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  26. glassSheets says:

    I hope that if the Mets get an exception that MLB also changes every pick’s slot value after the Pirates to be bumped up by a picks worth becasue every player in the draft was “really” picked one spot higher. After all, if the Mets really earned the 10th pick, then they really earned the 10th pick’s slot value as well, so on down through the chain.

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    • chuckb says:

      Ahhh…here’s where the situation gets trickier, right? And it’s probably THE reason why the Mets will lose this. Every team will want more $ to sign their draft picks.

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  27. Atari says:

    I have always been more of a “spirit of the law” guy than “letter of the law” guy, even if that opens up more loopholes or arguments or inconveniences. Look I want a society that is governed by law and people that follow the law but there also needs to be room in law for exceptions. If I was MLB I would at least consider it, even if this opened up the floodgates to future petitions.

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  28. henry says:

    doesn’t the rule say that the pirates pick is actually 8b rather than 9? so therefore, wouldn’t the mets be the 10th pick. i might be wrong but i seem to remember it being worded something like “if a team fails to sign a prospect with the 5th pick, they receive pick 5b in the following years draft”

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  29. Owen says:

    While I agree with most people that the rule SHOULD be written in a way that it protects the picks of the worst teams, at this time it isn’t. The people saying it should be overturned due to the ‘spirit of the rule’ are completely off base though. The language of the rule was explicitly changed just last year in a way that makes it very clear that the intent of the rule at this time (at least in the current CBA) is that the top 10 picks are protected, not the worst 10 teams’ picks.

    Personally I think that in the future it should be changed back to the old language/intent, but as of now there is absolutely no reason that MLB should side with the Mets.

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  30. Dave says:

    The whole thing is a ruse anyway. The Mets know they won’t win an appeal to keep their pick, but they can claim they have an interest in Bourn and are “trying” to win in 2013. They have no money. Watch for the firesale between mid-June and mid-August. Santana, Francisco, Marcum, Buck – any veteran who has any trade value will be gone.

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    • Spike says:

      I tend to agree based on hearing mostly lip service from Sandy Alderson to this point…

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    • SeanP says:

      Trading older veterans who are not signed through the following year and who the team doesn’t intend to try to keep is not a firesale. A firesale in the Mets case would be trading players like Wright, Niese, or any other higher-priced player who has value beyond the current year merely to bring down the payroll. That ain’t happening.

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      • Dave says:

        OK fair enough on “fire sale”. The main points are these: a) the Mets have no money; and b) they have no intention of signing Bourn; so c) this whole thing is a sham to make it appear to their fans that they’re trying to do something instead of “punting on 2013″.

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      • Spike says:

        as a very cynical Met fan, I’m with Dave in this one.

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      • Dave says:

        Actually, based on them not trading Hairston last year, we can expect the Mets to not have a fire sale this year even when they’re obviously stinking. They “don’t want to seem like they’ve given up on the season.” Ironically, if they’d traded Hairston last year, not only would they have at least gotten SOMETHING for him, they might have lost an extra game or two and had their draft pick protected. I do see them trading Santana and probably Buck, assuming D’Arnaud is ready for prime time. The rest? We shall see.

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  31. NATS Fan says:

    No way Bourn sits out the season. If MLB says no to the Mets then Bourn will have to go to a team like the Pirates. That is fine by me!

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  32. Forrest Gumption says:

    Attention everyone who wrote “spirit of the rule” in this thread: I hate you.

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  33. SeanP says:

    They need to question the key parties in the original negotiations to …

    1) determine what was the intent of the revised rule and

    2) see if the changed language which protects the top 10 picks rather than the 10 worst teams was intentional or inadvertent.

    You can’t assume that they would have just picked up the language of the previous CBA if the intent hadn’t changed. They had to change the language regardless since the number was changing, so perhaps someone just decided to rewrite that whole section anyway.

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  34. Ryan says:

    This Mets/Pirates/Appel situation isn’t even the ‘greyest’ scenario to consider if you are one of the “spirit of the law” crowd (which I am not). No one talks about the impact of tied records – but what would have happened if multiple teams had tied with the 10th worst record? Only one of those “10 worst teams” would have had a protected pick while anyone else with the exact same record would not. The CBA is very clear on what picks are vs. are not protected…

    If I was the fan of a team that tied for the 10th worst record, but picked 12th due to the MLB tiebreaker formula…I would be considerably furstrated by this pick protection system. At the same time, it strikes me as further proof that MLB explicitly wanted this rule changed to protect 10 picks and not “10 worst teams” – as the inclusion of tied records could easily mean 12-15 teams would have a protected pick in certain years.

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  35. LK says:

    It seems to me this issue is mind-numbingly simple. The Players’ Association wants this. We know the Mets want it. Do the other 29 teams agree the rule should be changed? There’s our answer as to if the Mets should win.

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  36. AV says:

    Am I the only one that sees this as an oversight on the part of the MLB and MLBPA? It seems like they wrote the language protecting the draft picks and wrote the language awarding picks for failing to sign a drafted player but never considered what they should do if a team fails to sign a top ten pick. To paraphrase William Shakespeare in Henry VI, Part II:

    “The first thing we do, let’s [fire] all the lawyers.”

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    • SeanP says:

      A lot of people have suggested it was an oversight. The counter argument by some is that lawyers, being so precise, would not have made such mistakes, and that if they intended the clause to protect the “worst teams” rather than the “top picks” they would have merely picked up the language from the previous CBA.

      However, lawyers are human and not infallible. If could very well be a mistake/oversight. Moreover, enough parts of the previous clause changed that rewriting it from scratch made sense.

      But the only way they will know what the original intent was is to question those parties who were involved in the negotiations at the time. Hopefully this will happen and they will consider a revision as this issue is bound to come up again in the near future.

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      • ron says:

        I really hope it isn’t an oversite. Generally I lawyers look at a template in order to create legal documents. Here you have the previous CBA as a template to review and then change. Discussion about the new labor agreement began creeping up about a year before it was agreed to so they had plenty of time to look this over. It should have been a part of negotiations. that is what makes this so difficult. If it was a part of the process than the union may have agreed to this in exchange for something else. that something else could have been anything in the agreement. We don’t know what happened in the process that is why staying within what is written is best to begin with.

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      • SeanP says:

        The previous rules regarding this had so may changes that it wouldn’t be unexpected that it might be totally rewritten from scratch. And sure, the CBA is discussed well in advance of the final negotiations, but not in terms of the final language.

        It’s easy enough to find out what happened in the negotiations. Just ask the parties who were there. The best course is to make sure the CBA fully reflects the original intent of all parties. I hope someone eventually formally appeals the issue.

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  37. John says:

    I think they will rule against the Mets, but all things being equal they shouldn’t…. Why should they be PENALIZED bc the Bucs didn’t sign their pick last year? They were one of the ten worst, their pick should be protected regardless.

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    • ron says:

      Can we stop with the “penalized” whining. If that is the case all the teams after 10 are penalized for winning too much. The rule is simply to make sure bad teams can sign free agents. It was foreseeable that teams will not sign their picks some years and that the way the rules go sometimes this situation will happen. This is a disadvantage. Is it a penalty that the Astros were bad when the draft didn’t have a great prospect like Harper or Strasburg? No it is bad luck. This is just bad luck. Sometimes things are unfair and maybe this seems unfair but it is hardly a punishment.

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      • Spike says:

        no, it’s more than “bad luck” had it been the 93 win Orioles who got slotted in the top ten and nudged the real tenth worst team out of protection. It’s a serious flaw in the process/rules and that should be fixed so that it makes sense going forward cause this isn’t the last time that a bad team is going to get slammed by this.

        This is not some “exception” to help one team or another or some selective interpretation of the rule by some. Anyone not recognizing that this is a flaw that needs to be addressed is merely hanging onto what the contract language says, not what it *should* say in the sake of equity.

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  38. Andrew says:

    If the “spirit of the CBA” was to guarantee competitive balance, maybe the Bucs should have been able to argue for an exception to pay Appel his asking price as a small-market team that hasn’t had a winning season in 20 years.

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    • ron says:

      I think the spirit of the CBA is to create a framework for the economic relationship between labor and management. The goal is for each side to get as much money or benefits as possible.

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  39. FW says:

    If the system is designed for competitive balance it is an extremely poor one (like the last one)

    The Yankees and Sox are likely to benefit most as they have high priced FAs they can afford to make Qualifying offers to, unlike small market teams who can’t afford this and tend to trade these types of guys pre FA.

    The old system stupidly rewarded movement (ie sign 3 FAs and only lose your third pick) but get them
    Back as FAs leave. There should have been. Forfeit of the picks you received as compensation if you sign a FA

    I think the wording in the (legally binding) CBA is clear too.

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  40. Surrealistic Pillow says:

    “However, the Mets may be able to make an argument that appeals to the spirit of the law.”

    The CBA in question isn’t “the law,” it’s a contract.

    Fortunately for the health of commercial practices in the US, contracts don’t have “spirits” under principles of contract law — they have enforceable terms. If courts had to divine the “spirit” of each contract sought to be enforced, a party to a contract dispute would be free to proffer any intent-based argument that could result in a more beneficial outcome. Winners and losers would be picked based on the whim of a judge’s sentiments.

    There are certain cases where courts can look beyond the terms of the contract; for example, if a particular term is ambiguous. However, where there is no ambiguity — and there is none here — the plain text of the terms controls. There is absolutely no legal basis for looking outside of this contract on this issue.

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    • ron says:

      I tried explaining this on another site and came up against some opposition. The problem is that some people just see these terms as unfair. The answer that many can’t see is that the terms are fair because the process of making the contract was fair. If your a Mets fan it sucks but there is nothing shady or dishonest about this.

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    • SeanP says:

      Except, if both sides agree the original intent was to protect the 10 worst teams as opposed to simply the 10 top picks, then they can mutually agree to change the clause at any time to better reflect that intent.

      Do we know for a fact — as opposed to mere speculation — what their intent was? I would like to hear from the owners side before just assuming no error was made in the write up of the agreement. They could at least clarify what went on in the negotiations.

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      • Surrealistic Pillow says:

        “Do we know for a fact — as opposed to mere speculation — what their intent was?”

        No, we don’t. Which is precisely why we enforce the terms of the contract as written. We don’t get involved in a guessing game with everyone offering his or her opinion on what the intentions of the parties were.

        If the parties choose to modify the terms of the contract, that’s one thing. But until then, the plain terms of the current contract control.

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      • SeanP says:

        Oh, sure, you follow the letter of the “law” initially. Not disputing that at all. But the point I’m making is that some of the parties should and likely will make sure the issue is clarified by some sort of an appeal. The union can appeal unilaterally I believe. If not, they can wait for one of the teams impacted by the clause to appeal the interpretation.

        I’m just saying the issue needs to be clarified and one just can’t assume the current interpretation is consistent with the original intent.

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      • SeanP says:

        IOW, I took issue with those who immediately assume that the way the current rule is written is its original intent, without any oversight having been made.

        And the person I was replying to said: “There is absolutely no legal basis for looking outside of this contract on this issue.” I took this to mean he was saying there is no reason to examine or change the meaning of the clause whatsoever. Even on an appeal.

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      • Surrealistic Pillow says:

        “But the point I’m making is that some of the parties should and likely will make sure the issue is clarified by some sort of an appeal.”

        There is nothing to clarify — the contractual term in question could not be clearer.

        The parties can modify the contract if they are in agreement regarding the modification, but that is something that takes place between the parties and not in front of a court. No appeal process is necessary for a mutually agreed upon contractual modification (at least in the legal sense, I’m not sure what sort of dispute resolution is provided for in the CBA).

        If the parties are not in agreement regarding the modification, however, then a case to modify this contract by one party is an absolute loser in front of any court in this country.

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      • SeanP says:

        Totally disagree. What needs to be clarified is the intent of the parties during negotiations. As many have pointed out, in the past it was always the intent to protect the teams with the worst records, not the highest picks. It seems odd that this would change.

        And no one mentioned a “court.” And, yes, an appeal process may be necessary in this case in order to start the ball rolling. One side has to “appeal” the current interpretation of the rule.

        I really don’t know why you keep mentioning a “court.” This is not a contract in the sense it needs to be litigated. It is essentially a labor agreement. If the parties disagree on the interpretation or intent, then it likely would be decided by an arbitrator OR a panel that included the union, the owners, and an arbitrator.

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      • Blue says:

        Its a contract, SeanP, and that means a four-corners analysis. Intent is irrelevent.

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      • SeanP says:

        No, it’s a labor agreement. Which is a form of a contract, but not an iron clad one. Intent does matter. And any party to the agreement can appeal to have the issue revisited and clarified.

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  41. That Guy says:

    This could all be avoided if they enforced literal judicial doctrines. The individual introducing the case much be literally inflicted by the appeal. The Mets have not offered a contract. They should not get to appeal until they do.

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  43. rory says:

    I agree that, in the future, they should modify the agreement to have draft pick protection based on the team records in the preceding season, rather than having the cutoff be determined by pick number. That said, this is all a mountain of a mole hill to skirt around the fact that Boras is having a tough time getting the money he wants for his client.

    Let’s not forget that he was offered arbitration, and what arbitration means.

    Michael Bourn was a 6 WAR player last year. The Braves offered him arbitration. He could’ve stayed with the Braves at a salary that would’ve been decided by an arbitrator. He declined.

    Bourn/Boras decided to test the free agent market, and there was never any guarantee that he’d get a massive contract. That was a chance they decided to take, and there’s no point in bending the rules to make signing him more attractive to perspective teams.

    The Mets sucked last year. Yeah, they’re right on the cusp of being eligible for having their first pick protected. But, according to the language of the agreement, they’re on the wrong side of that bar, and it’s all to the side of the real issue: Bourn wants a huge amount of money.

    I’m sure if he were willing to sign for 4 years at 7mil a year, the Mets wouldn’t think twice. The issue isn’t whether the Mets will lose a draft pick. After all, very very few draft picks end up being as good as Bourn. The issue is Boras is asking for a ton of money, and they’re looking to MLB to bend the rules as to help sweeten the deal for his client to subsidize the contract.

    You brought up an interesting point, and it’s odd how the signing (or not sighing) of a draft pick from last year has influenced whether the Mets draft pick is protected, but there’s no reason whatsoever that MLB should bend the rules.

    I support the player’s union, but really, there’ve been enough lopsided outcomes of free agent signings lately, that I’d have no qualms whatsoever with seeing a player get burned for their greed from time to time. How many contracts can you think of where a player got a huge contract, failed to perform, and the team ended up getting stuck with a horrible end of the deal? Tons… right? OK… Now how many contracts can you think of where the player signed a contract, and later down the road, it’s clear that they were robbed and really ought to be making much more money? Not as many? I thought not.

    So, here’s a case where a player wanted too much money, missed the boat on the first wave of free agent signings, still wants a ton of money, and now Boras is making noise to cry of the injustice of the draft-protection rule… Sorry guys… Sometimes greed doesn’t pay, and it’s good to know that can still happen from time to time.

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    • Spike says:

      Bourn wasn’t offered Arbitration (salary decided by an arbitrator). He was made a Qualifying Offer, which was approximately $13M to play for the Braves for 2013. So yes he passed up a g’teed contract for one year in order to seek a multi-year deal. He should have been able to get it, but free agency is basically a game of musical chairs and there may not be more than one chair left thereby severely limiting his leverage.

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    • Vern says:

      This is the best reasoning I’ve seen yet on this subject.

      As a Mets fan, it pains me to say that you’re right and they should not be granted an exception.

      But…they should still sign him if they can get favorable terms. I just don’t think draft picks in MLB are that valuable, especially when compared to NFL or NBA.

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  44. tommy says:

    They just need to change the wording. The intent is to protect the top ten picks, but I imagine the idea is to protect the top ten teams picking. In the event something like the pirates get 2 picks b/c of something that occurred in the prior year, through no fault of the Mets, the Mets pick should be protected, as the first ten FRANCHISES picking should have their picks protected. Terrible foresight by MLB here.

    This should be changed for the future, but for now the Mets should have to suck it up and forfeit the pick (if they sign bourn)those are the current rules.

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    • Spike says:

      I disagree. If they are going to change the rules then why should it skip a year? *If* it needs to fixed (which has to be determined), then fix it so no one gets screwed. Fixing it later just screws the Mets if they do intend to sign Bourn (or Lohse). If it’s not going to get fixed now, then don’t fix it at all.

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      • Andrew says:

        Playing huge devil’s advocate here, and perhaps it’s too far-fetched, but how do we KNOW there isn’t some team that has built its late-winter strategy around signing Bourn for below market because the current agreement states that the Mets have to give up a first round pick?

        On a related note, why didn’t the Mets issue this grievance the day after the regular season ended?

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      • Spike says:

        Andrew:
        it’s obvious that the Mets see some market inefficiency in the fact that Bourn is still available and hope to get him for well below what his original asking price was… there is no secret about that. For them, there’s r=no harm in seeking clarity for this part of the cba while they’re considering making an offer to Bourn.

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      • tommy says:

        spike – because it is an oversight, yet it is already written in stone. again, lack of foresight plays a huge role here. if the mets, or any of the other 29 teams didnt consider this scenario until they’re actually facing it, then they are trying to make the rule solely to benefit themselves.

        i am under the idea of course, that the first 10 franchises were the point of the rule, not 10 picks with some team getting multiple picks w/in that 10. if that is not the intent, then there is no rule change and too bad for the Mets.

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  45. bourbon says:

    Is the Pirates pick the 9th pick in the draft, or is it identified as #8a, according to the convention (that I remember) for previous compensation picks? It seems like this distinction might be some sort of way around what seems to be a narrowly worded rule.

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  46. Steelrogue says:

    There is a right way to write this rule.

    Worst 10 teams from prior season get the top 10 picks.
    Compensation picks starting with #11 would be the picks (1-10) not signed from the previous season. Worst case scenario, if the top 10 picks do not sign from the previous year, they would be 11-20.
    Remaining teams picks would follow.
    Remaining missed picks from the previous year fall to the Supplemental 1st round.
    Top 10 picks + Compensation Picks are protected.

    What does this do?
    1. Helps somewhat level the playing field for the worst 10 teams the previous season.
    2. Saves the compensation picks from the teams who could not sign their pick the previous season, but moves them down in the next draft. This is incentive for teams in 1-10 to pick players they can sign and to get the deal done.

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  47. This is all legalese wrangling.

    The very clear purpose of protecting 10 picks is to help the worse teams, and the Mets is considered part of the worse teams, the bottom 10. Because of an error in the wording of that section, it appears to have missed the possibility that a team might not sign someone and push one of those 10 teams out of the top 10 picks.

    Then again, the language that would have saved the Mets from this appeal used to be in the PRIOR CBA, so it can be implied that this result is what IS intended by the new CBA. That is probably the way the MLB will go, therefore.

    I also imagine that the MLB feels no pity for the Mets, letting the Madoff mess screw up the team, one of the major market areas for the MLB, so that would also lead me to think that the MLB will rule against the Mets.

    Then again, NY is a major area, so it does them no good if the Mets are not improved in some way.

    Overall, the Mets are in no position to really compete in the East, with the Nats, Braves, and Phillies looking more likely to win the division. They should just give up on Bourn, as he won’t make them competitive for the title, just better, so that they get a better draft pick in 2014 as well, cause they can expect to get beat up with those three teams battling hard, neck to neck. Pick up a nice first round prospect in 2013 and 2014, and hopefully by 2015, they can start graduating some of their prospects into starting roles and start to be competitive again.

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