The rule hardest for the Bucs to swallow will be the draft cash limit; you can bet that no small revenue team is willing to pay a tax on the draft. There will be start-up problems - how will teams deal with Scott Boras when he asks for the whole ten-round ball of wax for one player? - but all in all, it will just create a new set of rules to work through, and the FOs around the league will.
* A raise in the minimum salary from $414,000 this year to $480,000 in 2012, and eventually $500,000+. It's the MLBPA version of a COLA.
* Blood testing for human growth hormone as early as next spring, with a 50-game suspension for a first failed test. So now HGH is considered a no-no along with PEDs.
* It changes the draft-pick compensation for the signing of free agents. Type A and Type B ratings are eliminated, and teams can only get draft pick compensation if they offer the player a guaranteed one-year contract with a salary equal to the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players from the prior season.
* Active rosters can increase to 26 players for double-headers to allow for the call-up of a minor-league starter.
* Internationally, teams will be given caps for the amount that they can spend on prospects outside the draft, with the teams having the worst records getting the biggest budget.
* Here's the Bucco killer: A luxury tax on teams that spend above an agreed-upon figure for players signed in the amateur draft.Bud Selig hated teams like the Pirates ignoring his slot system, and the MLBPA didn't like the money being spent on prospects instead of players. So if teams go over slot (not by pick, but by total spent in the first ten rounds), MLB will place a tax worth 75-100 % of the overrun, with the potential loss of first and second-round selections.
* Other draft rules: players can only be signed to minor league contracts, and teams can trade their unspent draft or international budget to another team if they expect to come in under the MLB cap.
* New draft lottery rules: teams with the lowest revenues and worst records will participate in a lottery of forfeited picks (how ironic that the Pirates might be in a lottery for their own pick!); there's also a lottery of extra picks for small revenue and market teams.
Bud Selig wanted the draft to go purely in order of perceived talent
instead of an auction, and he won with the help of the MLBPA, who not
surprisingly fell on the side of their membership.Baseball will lose the high school kids to college and prep multi-athletes other sports, and prospects will enter the draft much closer to MLB ready. Colleges will truly become the minor leagues.
So Pittsburgh will have to wait and see if their internal budget and the MLB's international cap are copacetic. More importantly, they'll have to adjust to the new draft era and reallocate monies from the amateur pool to the MLB roster. It's a change in direction, not a death sentence.
As all of us who have ever built a project know, the blueprint is nice to have, but the secret to a finished project is the inevitable work-around.