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Tuesday, September 25, 2012
New CBA alters playing field in Ortiz talks

By Gordon Edes

BOSTON -- Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, David Ortiz was assured of a raise when he accepted Boston’s offer of salary arbitration last winter, going from $12.5 million in 2011 to the $14.575 million salary he played for in 2012.

That won’t be the case this winter under terms of the new CBA, which has done away with Type A and Type B designations for free agents in determining draft-pick compensation.

The old system has been replaced by a system in which teams have the option of making a “qualifying” offer to be eligible for compensation. The qualifying offer will be determined by averaging the top 125 player salaries from the previous year, which is expected to be a “tick over $13 million,” a major-league source said Tuesday. All qualifying offers are for a one-year deal.

Teams will have until five days after the World Series to make qualifying offers and the players will have seven days to accept. If the player accepts the qualifying offer, he is considered a signed player. If he declines and signs with another club, his new team will have to give up a first-round draft pick.

But here’s another wrinkle: That pick doesn’t go to the player’s previous team; the first round simply skips that pick. The player’s former team will be given a supplemental pick at the end of the first round.

Also, the first 10 selections in the draft are protected. Teams with protected picks will surrender their second-highest selections.

So if Ortiz accepts a qualifying offer from the Red Sox, he will be assured of being paid nearly $2 million less than he was in 2012. The qualifying offer is the same for a free agent if he was paid $5 million in 2012 or $14-plus million, as Ortiz was.

A team can elect not to make a qualifying offer to one of their own free agents and still sign him; they just won’t receive a draft pick as compensation.

The new CBA makes cases like Ortiz’s more “nuanced,” a baseball source said. The Sox are bent on bringing back Ortiz, a team source said earlier this month, but obviously bringing him back for less money than he was paid this year will not sit well with the player. In the wake of the megadeal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in which they shed $262 million in salary obligations, the Sox certainly have the wherewithal to give Ortiz the two-year deal he is seeking, and that would go a long way toward eliminating one potential distraction. The Sox offered Ortiz a two-year deal last winter, but it was for just $18 million, and Ortiz chose arbitration instead.

A two-year deal for between $25 million and $30 million would seem to be working parameters to get a new agreement done. A possible compromise would be a one-year deal with a vesting option that is relatively easy to attain. The issue should be less about which side has more leverage, but what would bring satisfactory returns to both sides.