PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: General view of PNC Park during the Opening Day ceremonies before the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Colorado Rockies on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Baseball's new CBA will, amazingly, make it even more difficult for the Pirates to compete.
Details of baseball's new Collective Bargaining Agreement are beginning to trickle out online, and it appears to make competitive Major League Baseball in Pittsburgh even more of a pipe dream than it used to be.
Without getting into too many of the specifics - you can check out Jeff Passan's Twitter account for those - the key here is that it will no longer be possible for the Pirates or other small-market teams to radically out-spend their peers in the draft. Or, well, they can, but then they'll face draconian punishments, including the loss of first-round picks. Teams like the Pirates, Royals and Nationals were among the draft's biggest spenders, and the surest way for teams in smaller markets like Pittsburgh and Kansas City to compete is to draft and develop their own players, since they can't afford high-priced free agents.
As far as I can tell, nothing has been done to prevent large-market teams from spending at the big-league level. This is really about capping spending on amateurs, which is often being done primarily by teams like the Pirates and Royals. The Pirates' spending on someone like Josh Bell, their second-round pick from last year's draft, will no longer be possible.
There appear to be a few fig leafs for smaller-market teams - a lottery which will hand out extra picks for small-revenue teams between the first and second rounds, for example - but they pale in comparison to being able to spend. This is bad. Really bad.
We'll have more details as they become available.