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Chat: Maury Brown

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday May 29, 2012 3:00 PM ET chat session with Maury Brown.


Catch up on the business beat with BP's bad, bad Maury Brown.

Maury Brown: Hey all, hope you got to enjoy a long weekend. Let's get this (chat) party started. As a reminder, my first in a series on MLB's new CBA ran today. Make sure and check it out. Here... we... go...

Greg (San Jose): Oakland. San Francisco. Territorial rights. Discuss. Does something get done while Bud Selig is still commissioner, or does he want to pass this off to the next guy? When, if at all, does contraction or relocation to a third city (Las Vegas? Portland?) get on the table?

Maury Brown: I think this is still something on Bud's watch, but it's a very difficult issue. Realizing that the vote to approve a move into San Jose requires 75 percent of the owners to go along with it makes this more than a "Bud" issue. There's going to be some owners that are thinking about their own self interests, not just those of the A's. As to whether relocating out of the region, I think it's hard, if not impossible. The only way that really works is if the league goes the Expos route and purchases the club with the intent of relocation. Just too hard for markets to mount funding for ballparks while thinking what's really happening is being leveraged.

Dave (Chicago): Hi - do you have or have you seen an estimate of what the qualifying offer will be this offseason based on the top 125 salaries?

Maury Brown: Good question. Right now, I have not done the calculations. And, it's not as easy as it sounds. Here's what I have out of my article today on how that all works:

This "Qualifying Offer" works as such:

During the Quiet Period, the former Club of a Qualified Free Agent may tender the Qualified Free Agent a one-year Uniform Player's Contract for the next succeeding season with a guaranteed salary that is equal to the average salary of the 125 highest-paid Players each year.
A separate attachment in the CBA describes how that salary average from the 125 highest-paid players is derived:

1, The 125 highest-paid Players initially shall be derived from all Players on a 40-man roster or 60-Day Disabled List on August 31 of the most recently completed season ("Eligible Players").
2. In determining the 125 highest-paid Players, each Player's salary for the season at issue ("Salary") shall be calculated by adding the following: (i) the Player's base salary for the year at issue as set forth in Joint Exhibit 1 (adjusted pursuant to any salary escalator effective for that season); (ii) a prorated portion of any applicable signing bonus; (iii) a prorated portion of any buyout associated with the first Club or Mutual option year of the Contract (or a deduction of the amount of the buyout if the option was exercised as described in Addendum A); and (iv) any bonuses that were earned by the Player as of the conclusion of the championship season. If any portion of the Player's earnings in items (i)-(iv) of this paragraph is deferred, his Salary shall be discounted pursuant to the formula set forth in Addendum A.

comish4lif (Alexandria, VA): Maury, have you heard anything about the Nationals opening up their agreement with MASN and the resulting negotiations? What kind of increase could the Nats expect? What would they be worth on the open market? You know, if Selig hadn't given the Nats TV rights to the Orioles?

Maury Brown: There's currently a process as part of the Orioles and Nats agreement with MASN over what are called "reset" fees. In that, currently the Nats pull in about $29 million annually. But, that could change based upon how they have been performing on the field. The wierd thing is, after the Nats get an increae, the way the deal works, the Orioles would get a "reset" as well. In other words, MASN has to really up the pay for both clubs. As to the end of your question.... that was the deal with the devil. No MASN. No Nats in DC. Such is the political dance that goes on. The deal with the two has often been cited as an example as to how to bridge issues such as we're seeing in the Bay Area with the A's trying to relocate and the Giants not really happy about it.

MA (Athens, GA): Hey, Maury; really enjoyed meeting you at that PDX event (feels like so many years ago). At that time, there was still discussion of the possibility of MLB in Portland; now, I believe there isn't even a AAA club there. Why did minor league baseball leave Portland, and what are the chances of it returning?

Maury Brown: It was a great time, and yes... it was many, many years ago. It all boils down to having a ballpark for a minor league club to play in. Attempts to get short-season ball in the area has, so far, bumped into issues. For those looking at the A's and asking about Portland as a viable alternative. As a matter of transparency, I worked with the city in 2000-2002 to bring MLB to Portland. I don't see it happening now due to the lack of an interim ballpark and a political and business environment that is likely not in a position to jump out in front of an MLB to Portland effort today.

19braves77 (Pensacola, FL): Do you think we will see the majority of the first round draft picks sign rather quickly or are we still going to see signings two minutes before the deadline ?

Maury Brown: Yes. In that I mean, we should see signings a bit sooner with the way that the new CBA has set up the draft. But, there are always going to be those last minute nail-biters. Kinda makes it "fun"

Bill (New Mexico): In the new language, what counts as a "qualified free agent"? One who has pulled down one of those 125 top salaries the previous year? ANY free agent who reached that status through the end of a contract? Something in between? I'm confused.

Maury Brown: CBA defines a "Qualified Free Agent" as follows:

The following provision shall apply only to each Player who
becomes a free agent under this Section B after having been continuously
under reserve (without interruption) to the same Club (either
at the Major or Minor League level) since Opening Day of the
recently completed championship season ("Qualified Free Agent").

kenny285 (Brooklyn, NY): Scott Boras had thrown the idea out there that the amateur draft signing bonus pools should have been done for a five year period instead of a one year period to allow for team flexibility. What are your thoughts on this and why do you think MLB and MLBPA didn't go this route?

Maury Brown: I'd say that Boras was thinking abou this somewhat selfishly, which makes sense. In a 5-year period, it would allow clubs to spend far over slot for a given year, and then they'd have to pull back. In fairness to Boras, you could easily make a case that not all draft years provide the same level of talent, and therefore, spending more in a given year based upon availability makes sense.

But, I'll get back to why I think this really didn't come about and that's to keep clubs in a position of control somewhat over agents and players in signings. You open up the pool to more than a year, you open up agents backing clubs into corners on how they sign. If the Luxury Tax on total player payroll was really about the Yankees, the pools and tax on draft bonuses was done to control agents, and maybe just Boras.

tigerdog (Orange County, CA): Any reaction to the comments by Jayson Stark about MLB ready to expand replay for the 2013 season?

Maury Brown: Yeah, the league and the PA were ready for it and the umpire's union got in the way, or we'd be having this as a given already. I'm highly in favor of it.

comish4lif (Alexandria, VA): Maury, re: the new draft budgets. The Nats have a draft pool of $4.436M. If the Nats spend a measly $5.102M, they will have exceeded the MLB assigned pool by more than 15%. They will incur a cash penalty of $665K (a drop in the bucket), but would lose their next 2 first rounders. Wow. Did the clubs know that they'd be getting into this?

Maury Brown: Yes, I think they knew exactly what they were getting into. The slots were something that the league very much wanted out of negotiations and if they couldn't get hard slots, the soft-cap via Luxury Tax is a compromise. It's "measly" in relationship to past signings. We may have to redefine what "measly" is going forward. Agents aren't exactly happy with the changes. You now see why.

Bill (New Mexico): Thanks for the QFA clarification; very helpful. In practice, is that definition, combined with the compensation rules, likely to lead to more signings that create compensation (seems unlikely) than in recent years, or fewer, or no significant change?

Maury Brown: Hard to say. Being honest here, I'm waiting to see how the clubs and agents react to all the changes as they are substantial. I go back to the quotes from the club exec and agent in my article today. Everybody is kind of feeling it out. This year is especially odd in some of the changes were laid down upon the framework of the prior agreement. It's almost like two CBA: the transition agreement that goes down this year. Then, next year with realignment and a possible international draft. All those that clamored for baseball to get with the times... well, careful what you pray for.

comish4lif (Alexandria, VA): I understand why the "League" (AKA Selig) wanted hard slots, but why would 30 MLB execs go along with this. The Nats and the Pirates, for example, have spent money and rebuilt through the draft. Now, they cannot do that as easily. Why would they go along with that?

Maury Brown: Why not? If I'm a GM, I go, "Here's our budget. Even if we want to go over pool, we're going to get dinged 'this much'." From there, you're going to get agents and players that are either going to walk or take offers. I know that one big concern is multi-sport talent. Is this system going to drive some athletes away from baseball and into other pro sports? It's a possibility.

tigerdog (Orange County, CA): Follow up on the replay issue: Maybe if the system implemented had a few extra jobs for umpires to review calls, the umps union would soften their position a bit? Sounds like the NHL method of reviews taking place at a remote location is what they're looking at.

Maury Brown: Maybe. IMO there should be an "eye in the sky" -- a command center for the "head" umpire that reviews the calls upstairs. Somewhat like we see in other sports. This thing where the umps leave the field and review... kind of cumbersome. Umpires are worried about their jobs. I get that, to an extent. Make better calls, you keep them, right?

comish4lif (Alexandria, VA): Regarding Boras' 5 year pool. For example, a team could blow through their 2012-2123 years worth of pool money, and then trade some of the 2013 picks for major or minor league talent. And then be in good shape for 2014.

Maury Brown: Maybe. But, that gets into all kinds of scenarios that could be "bad." Look, part of this system, I believe, is policing owners. League will likely disagree with me on this, but on the face of this, it's about how more money is going to untested talent and there's been a decision that says, "We want to get cost containment." The PA could have fought this harder, and I know that they have concerns, but... it was collectively bargained, and so... here we are.

comish4lif (Alexandria, VA): Probably not on your plate, but have you seen anything about the breakdown of next years Interleague Play Everyday schedule? That is, X Interleague games, Y in Division, Z in League? Would they dare go to a single league balanced schedule with no divisions?

Maury Brown: Here's exactly how Interleague will work going forward, as defined in the CBA:

D. Interleague Play
Each Club may be scheduled to play up to 20 Interleague games during
each championship season. In each Interleague game at an
American League park, the Designated Hitter shall be used; at each
Interleague game at a National League park, the Designated Hitter
shall not be used.
E. 15/15 Realignment
Beginning with the 2013 championship season, the Office of the Commissioner
will prepare a schedule based on the following criteria:
(A) There will be no more than 20 Interleague games. The bulk
of Interleague play will be based on a rotating division format, but
may include no more than one series against a prime inter-league
rival unless they play two two-game series. In the years when the
corresponding divisions are scheduled for Interleague play, two
series of three or fewer games against the prime inter-league rival
may be played.
(B) Each Club will play no fewer than 17 games against each
Club in its division if the schedule is 181 days or more. Each Club
will play no fewer than 18 games against each Club in its division
if the schedule is 180 days or fewer.
(C) The original schedule may contain one home split doubleheader
for each Club.
(D) The All-Star break will contain four days for all Clubs.

comish4lif (Alexandria, VA): Personally, I'd like more instant replay. But, in its place, I'd like to see more umps willing to get help. You look at some of these high profile incidents, like Helton off the bag vs. the Dodgers, and you see Mattingly say "He was off the bag" and the ump responds "No, he wasn't" Perfect opportunity for the 1B Ump to get help. The ump was in the right spot but got blocked off; not his fault. Someone else had to have a better view.

Maury Brown: Reviews of the games are done, but I'm wondering how the umps would do if those reviews were turned into a report that was given to the league and the players... even the public. I think umpiring baseball is the hardest job of its kind across the sports. NBA is a bit of a joke, and the NFL has so many checks and balances with instant replay that the refs rarely become the story. We're seeing some change, but as is often times the case in baseball... slow to arrive.

dianagram (VORGville): Hi Maury ... thanks for the chat. Will there ever be a tipping point for MLB to drop/modify the burdensome blackout rules for TV/cable broadcasts?

Maury Brown: Yes, when hell freezes over. Either that or when the day comes that so many consumers are ticked off that they begin to see a severe drop off in MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV Premium subs. With the advent of MLB.com's At Bat, you're going to have a harder time with that. It's pushing sub levels up. Silly MLB... one thing that the league does that is truly "awful." Wish that wasn't so.

Nick Johnson (Rehabbing): Mixed League, who gets the better of Adam Dunn/Felix Hernandex for Prince Fielder/Ervin Santana?

Maury Brown: Hmmmm..... I'll say Fielder/Santana....

By the way, folks, about 15 mins. left in the chat. Keep them coming! For those interested in reading the new CBA (which does not include the drug agreement, that comes out later), it can be found here:

The 2012-16 MLB CBA

Bill (New Mexico): Any predictions for what will be in the drug agreement when it does make it out? In particular, will it align more closely with the minor-league agreement, where there have been a lot of drug-of-abuse suspensions? (Hope this doesn't take 15 minutes to answer. ;-) )

Maury Brown: Well, hGH testing, for one. Going to take up a large part of the doc. Also will be interesting to see if the adjustments in the wake of the Braun ruling get in there.... It's not (ever) going to be the same as the MiLB agreement. Not unless the minor league players decide to get unionized (I think I just heard Bud Selig faint). There are protections as part of that. But, the substances being tested for are inching closer together. It's really boiling down to the "what" and "how much". On when it's out... Could be as early as this week.

Maury Brown: Well, that about wraps this episode of "As Maury's Chat Turns." Tune in next time where Maury will try dive into a small glass of water. Reminder, here's Part 1 of my series on MLB's CBA: Inside the 2012-16 CBA: The Luxury Tax Meets the Draft Have a great one!

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