Checking out the Basic Agreement

The Basic Agreement between the owners and players has been hammered out, ratification should be automatic and the effect will be immediate in some cases and down the road in others.

Those that will be affected (besides such matters and revenue sharing and the drug policy, which, while important, aren't in this area of coverage) are (1) free agency (2) the amateur draft) and (3) promotion from the minor leagues.

Beginning this year, Type C category for players has been eliminated. Thus, teams who lose such a player won't get any compensation; formerly, they could receive a supplemental pick at the end of the amateur draft's second round. Compensation for Type B players is to be a supplemental pick after the first round only. Before, teams could also get the signing club's second-round slot as well.

Compensation for Type A players remains a team's top available slot plus a supplemental pick at the end of the first round. However, beginning in 2007, Type A will be reduced from the top 30 percent of players to the top 20 percent. Type B will be shrunk from 30 to 50 percent to 21-40 percent.

This, the players hope, will cause clubs to bid more freely on free agents since many have shied away from some to avoid losing the draft choice. Also, all deadlines for negotiating with a team's free agents have been eliminated. It still will be necessary to offer a player arbitration to insure compensation.

Also changed is the compensation for failure to sign top draft picks. If a team doesn't come to terms with a first-rounder, it will receive a like slot in the next year"s draft. The same holds true for second-rounders while failure to come to terms with a third-rounder will be compensated by a supplemental choice after that round in the next year.

Formerly, failure to sign a first-round choice was compensated by a supplemental pick after the round in the next draft. There previously was no compensation for losing second or third rounders. As before, if a team doesn't sign a compensatory pick (as was the Dodgers case with Luke Hochevar), no compensation will be awarded.

However, a cutoff date of Aug. 15 has been established for signing any draftee except for college seniors. This eliminates the long drawn-out negotiations that have sometimes occurred. It also eliminates the draft-and-follow policy in which players chose to enter a junior college with the drafting team still holding the rights to them until a week prior to the next draft.

In this manner, it is the hope that teams will hold more closely to the established slot price for the players, knowing they'll get compensation if he doesn't sign. It also makes that first day he attends class meaningless .

The number of years a player can remain in the minors before becoming eligible for the Rule 5 draft has been bumped up. Formerly, any player signed below the age of 19 had four years before he could be drafted, those 19 and over had only three. Now, though, it's been increased to five and four.

That takes place immediately which means that in the Dodgers case, such players as Chin-Lung Hu and Tony Abreu, who no doubt would have been protected, can instead be left down in the minors without fear of losing them. Also righthander Justin Orenduff, who was an extremely promising prospect but who had Tommy John surgery, won't have to be brought up now but, instead, can be further evaluated after he comes back from the operation next year.

It also means that the team will be able to consider such fringe prospects as lefthander Mike Megrew as a possible call-up or, even take a second look at some let go to free agency as righthander Joel Hanrahan and lefthander Ryan Ketchner. Of course, as free agents, they also can entertain major league offers from other teams that previously didn't have room.

(ed note-- The complete agreement is elsewhere on the site).

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