The drawbacks of the new CBA

Updated: November 23, 2011, 11:32 AM ET
By Buster Olney

There are three ways for teams to acquire high-end talent, an AL executive said Tuesday afternoon in the hours after the new labor agreement was announced:

1. Teams can invest in free agents, as the Philadelphia Phillies did with Cliff Lee, and as the New York Yankees did with CC Sabathia.

2. They can make trades, as the Boston Red Sox did for Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett.

3. They can go after amateur players, choosing them in the draft or signing them in the international markets.

The San Diego Padres had a payroll of about $46 million last year; the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays were at about $42 million; the Cleveland Indians were close to $50 million; the Kansas City Royals at about $40 million. There is virtually no chance that those and other teams with small- and medium-sized budgets will ever be able to pursue free agents at the stratosphere that Sabathia, Lee, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and other elite talents exist. And there is no chance that clubs like the Royals, Pirates, Rays, etc., would trade for those types of players, because the cost in prospects and in a required contract extension would be too exorbitant.

The pursuit of amateur players was viewed by many of the "have-nots" as the one avenue through which they could try to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and other teams, and maybe even beat them. But in the eyes of many executives, the structure of the new draft rules -- with its caps on draft and international signings -- will work against the teams with small and medium-sized budgets.