Lost somewhat among the NBA's ugly ongoing lockout and the NFL's lockout causing heartburn last summer, Major League Baseball on Tuesday agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement ensuring at least two full decades of labor peace. Most notably, the new CBA makes major changes to how amateur players become professionals mainly by strictly controlling how much money a team can offer its draft picks. A good description of exactly how the draft will be effected is available here, but sufficient to say that fairly prohibitive penalties have been established to prevent teams from spending above what the MLB's slot suggestions. The days of Stephen Strasburg drawing a $15 million signing bonus out of college are gone.
The new changes come about in large part because teams which rarely competed for top-flight free agents had begun substantially overspending to sign and control elite amateur talent through at least their first contract. Last season, the Pirates and Nationals broke records to sign players who they otherwise would have gone or returned to the college ranks. The Pirates in particular have been a thorn in Augie's side the last few years, signing Texas signee and sixth round pick Robbie Grossman for a million dollars in 2008 (a year later that same pick was worth about $77,000) and inking second round pick Josh Bell for $5 million this past August. Losing Bell to the Pirates in particular hurts as he was highly regarded as the best pure hitter in high school baseball. All told the Horns lost four signees in the top two rounds of the MLB draft in 2011.
Without the ability to demolish the MLB's slot suggestion, amateur players will face a much starker choice between going to college and beginning their long professional journey. The odds are that all but the top high school talent in the country will follow their hearts, either to college or the pros, rather than be swayed by giant suitcases full of cash. Who can argue with Josh Bell going pro for $5 million? But if he's only offered the MLB's suggested
In theory, Texas baseball will be a huge benefactor as the allure of playing at Texas has led at times to some of Augie's most prolific talent. With more elite talent theoretically heading to college baseball, Texas baseball's standing as the flagship college baseball school in a state that produces elite baseball talent should enhance Augie's program even further. Under these new rules we can hope to see more Taylor Jungmanns, Jordan Danks and Kyle Russels on the 40 Acres.