Will New Major League CBA Screw the Twins?

If you’re one of those people salivating over the extra high draft picks that the Twins were going to get in return for losing free agents Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, that salivation might be a bit premature.

The good news is that reports coming out of Milwaukee, where MLB General Managers are meeting this week, indicate that the league and the players’ union are very close to agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). That means baseball fans won’t be going through the nonsense that we saw last summer with the NFL and are continuing to see with the NBA.

The bad news is that the new agreement could cost the Twins at least one of those compensatory draft picks in next year’s amateur draft… and possibly all of them.

As has been well documented by now, the Twins have three members of 2011’s roster that are classified as either Type A or Type B free agents. Under the current CBA, that means that they would receive one or two compensatory draft picks if those players sign with another team, provided the Twins offer them arbitration.

Michael Cuddyer

Cuddyer and Matt Capps both fall in to the Type A category, which would bring the Twins both a supplemental round “sandwich” pick (so named because the supplemental round is conducted between the first and second rounds of the draft) as well as either the first or second round pick of the team that player ultimately signs with (depending on that team’s record in 2011).

Kubel is a Type B free agent, which means the Twins would get one of those supplemental “sandwich” picks, but the signing team would not forfeit any of their picks to the Twins.

The conventional wisdom is that the Twins will not offer arbitration to Matt Capps because he would certainly accept it and would end up being awarded a 2012 salary that’s probably at least double what he’s likely to get on the open market. That means the Twins will get no compensatory pick for Capps.

But the Twins certainly would be planning to offer arbitration to both Cuddyer and Kubel.

Media reports, including one from NY Post columnist Joel Sherman, indicate that the owners may have traded away much, if not all, of the free agent compensation system during CBA negotiations in order to rein in the escalating salaries of draft picks AND that the changes to the system may take effect this offseason.

Would owners really change the rules in the middle of the offseason? To get what they want in terms of restricting salaries for unproven draft picks… absolutely. A formal announcement of the terms of the agreement could come yet this week.

Sherman’s sources tell him that the compensation program for the top Type A free agents (such as the Mets’ Jose Reyes) would not be changed, but that Type B compensation would end effective with the current offseason. Other media reports indicate that the new agreement will reduce the percentage (currently 20%) of players at each position that constitute the Type A category, as well.

Jason Kubel

If these reports turn out to be accurate, it means the Twins: (a) would get no compensation for losing Jason Kubel; and (b) COULD end up getting no compensation for Michael Cuddyer, either, if his ranking by Elias falls below whatever the newly negotiated cut-off line is for Type A players in the American League 1B-DH-OF category.

If you were hoping the three supplemental picks were going to go a long way toward helping Terry Ryan boost the organization’s minor league talent level sooner, rather than later, this turn of events is not good news.

If you’re the Twins GM, would the lack of compensation for losing Kubel and Cuddyer make you more likely to consider re-signing either or both?

- JC