By now, many of you have probably read from multiple outlets that at least some owners aren’t too fond of the tanking that many teams seem to be embracing to position themselves better as they rebuild. It does help that the Chicago Cubs happen to be in one division where two teams (the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds) are overtly working a rebuild plan, so maybe this means that the Cubs may squeeze in a few extra wins over their abysmal-by-design opponents. Here’s a good line from that HBT article:
I’ll be curious to see how, exactly, the owners plan to address this given that their very own proposals have done more to incentivize tanking than anything else. Specifically, the imposition of draft slotting and draft bonus pools.
As soon as we got the details of the CBA way back in late 2011 when Theo Epstein was hired on, we pretty much knew that the Cubs would have to tank on epic levels to try to position themselves for what happened (surprisingly!) last season. It was somewhat unfortunate that the Houston Astros were even better at tanking, but whatcha gonna do…anyway, the Cubs did pretty good for themselves, and if an organization goes in with a plan to eventually come out of the cellar instead of doing whatever the hell it is the Marlins are doing, then tanking is probably okay. But as we’ve also seen over the past few years of the qualifying offer system, free agents who aren’t on the super-elite tier sometimes get shafted. Kendrys Morales‘ really stupid situation in 2014 comes to mind, and this offseason, guys like Dexter Fowler are left in limbo as their QO status means that teams have to think twice about jettisoning their draft pool slot to sign him.
Once upon a time, I wrote a couple blogs about how the Cubs might have to figure out new talent acquisition avenues now that the QO and draft pools are keeping them from spending frivolously in the draft. It always appeared to me that owners enjoyed keeping costs down, which the draft slots and the restricted international free agent spending seemed to be designed to do. The Cubs circumvented this a couple times, including this signing period, by blowing past their allotment to sign as much amateur international talent as they could before penalties kicked in. Now, I don’t know how the MLB Players Association and MLB are going to work the CBA exactly (I’d of course like them to implement the NL designated hitter rule), but it seems that at the very least, they need to talk about the qualifying offer, and now it seems they will want to also address tanking.
Interestingly, the only way that they can really disincentivize tanking is if they either make it harder for deliberate loser teams to get the early draft picks, or if they remove the draft hard slotting such that teams that don’t pick early can still entice talent with big draft bonuses but with minimal penalty. I imagine that this would help the Cubs immensely, as on paper anyway, the Cubs look to remain pretty good and competitive for years to come, which means that with the current draft system, they wouldn’t pick early. There are a number of solutions proposed by national baseball writers and bloggers, but I’m looking forward to developing details that, in my opinion, will help the Cubs in the long run. And anything that helps the Cubs is good. As long as it’s not illegal or causes the destruction of the planet, that is.