While the draft is pretty much the same, there are a couple of big changes as to how much and when teams can sign their players. One of the big differences that teams now must sign players taken in the draft only to minor league contracts. The signing deadline is also accelerated, and players must be signed by mid-July.
A bonus slotting system was also implemented. Teams will get a pool of money based on industry revenue, and that pool of money can then be used for signing bonuses for picks in the first ten rounds or players in later rounds that are given more than $100,000 (I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot of $100,000 signing bonuses in those later rounds). If teams go beyond that pool of money, they can incur both a monetary penalty and the potential loss of draft picks.
If they go up to five percent over, there's a 75 percent tax on the amount spent over their pool. If they're between five and ten percent over the pool, they pay the 75 percent tax and lose a first-round pick. If they go 10 to 15 percent over, they incur a 100 percent tax and they lose a first- and second-round pick, and if they are more then 15 percent over, they pay the 100 percent tax and lose two first-round picks.
Bonus pools will be determined by the order the team is in the draft as well as the number of draft choices that team has. The tax money goes into a revenue-sharing pool that's split between the teams that didn't exceed their pool, and those teams will also pick up the draft picks lost by the offenders through a weighted lottery based on their record.
New York Times columnist Richard Sandomir penned a really nice piece on the New York Mets and their precarious financial situation. He talks about the large amount of debt the team carries as well as the debt load some of the other business entities related to the Mets, such as their sports network, SNY, also carry.
I've always thought Mets' owner Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have Frank McCourt to thank for them getting this long to sort out their financial mess. Wilpon and Katz are camp-Selig guys, and that helps, but things seem to be spiraling out of control and only a worse financial situation in Los Angeles has kept them out of the spotlight.
At this point, the team seems to be holding it's hat on finding minority investors to raise $200 million. Still, this has been a long time coming, and it's funny that nothing has materialized yet.
In other Mets' news, the team is cutting out of the Gulf Coast League. They've always had one more short-season team than most of the other MLB teams, but no longer.
Fox Sports won its ruling in its bankruptcy case, and that now puts the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers in jeopardy. McCourt was hoping to have a locked and loaded television deal in place so he could command top dollar in a prospective upcoming auction, but that may not happen.
Fox Sports has claimed it has exclusive negotiating rights on a television deal through the end of 2012 while McCourt claimed their negotiating rights went out the window when the team went into bankruptcy. Now a Delaware judge is saying that Fox Sports' position has merit.
This puts the sale on hold until at least a Jan. 12, 2012 hearing. If Fox Sports wins the case, the Dodgers have a tough decision. They can let things go as is or they can appeal, but then they're probably not going to have the sale done by the April 30 deadline.
You have to love the rumors. Word is swirling that the Oakland Athletics are close to getting permission to move to San Jose, and it could come as early as February. MLB is staying mum on the rumors, but the move is expected to be one of the big subjects talked about at the owners meeting in January. I guess we'll have to wait until then to know for sure.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.
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