Play the role of the commissioner. As we get nearer the next collective bargaining agreement, on the heels of the announcement about beginning the 2011 season on a Friday, what other changes would you make to Major League Baseball's structure?
In no real particular order, I can think of quite a few.
1. Draft overhaul. Go to a slotting system based on draft position and age, include international free agents and assign a draft-and-follow rule.
The slotting system is pretty obvious. If you're are drafted No. 7 overall, you have a specific dollar range teams can pay as a signing bonus, that will fluctuate based on whether you're 17, 19, 21, etc. If you elect to go back to college (or go to college), your slot position is frozen and your rights are protected by the team the drafted you, but you will be given the slotting bonus based on the age of when you decide to sign, as opposed to when you are drafted.
I would like to see some sort of additional perk for players originally drafted outside of Round 10. If you are drafted out of high school (let's say in Round 15) but go to college for 3 years, then anyone can draft you in the first 5 rounds when you go back. However, the original drafting team must match 110% of slot in order to retain your rights. It's kind of similar to restricted free agency.
2. Roster Rules. This has been discussed recently here, but I would definitely like to see changes made to the 40-man roster expansion. I think teams should be able to go to 40 players for the first few weeks of the season (especially since most minor leagues don't start for a few weeks). For guys out of options, perhaps this can be an extended amount of time out of spring training that teams have to make a decision whether to add them to the active roster or designate them for assignment.
3. Soft cap! I've come to accept there will not likely be a true hard salary cap for baseball. But that's OK. Just give us a soft cap--perhaps similar to the one that is used by the NBA.
The cap level could be exceeded for re-signing your own free agents, trades and arbitration or extension raises.
While I'm not in favor if "max" contracts for individual players, the cap could be assigned by a formula designated to overall salaries based on a percentage of the total income. That number could be based on previous year's national media revenue, local media revenue, gate revenue, etc. The tax threshold and revenue sharing could remain in place, paying into the central fund and redistributed to teams functioning under the cap and in the lower quadrant of local revenue.
There should be a "minimum" cap for teams required to function at or above in order to receive their portions of the revenue sharing.
4. To Designate or not Designate. I'm OK with the DH rule, though I'm preferential against it. However, whether they keep the DH or not, I'd prefer they either do away with it entirely or use it in both leagues. I'm admittedly a person of symmetry. I don't like unevenness. So if they're going to keep the DH in the AL, I'd rather they add it to the NL. As I said, though, I like the strategy involved of not having it more than having it.
5. All-Star game. I'd change a lot about this. First, do away with the silly "winner gets home field advantage" rule. The heart was in the right place, the execution was not. If they want to make the game more important, reward the players for their participation. The rule about re-entering starters late in the game was a good step for better management.
Second, I would change the voting. Have the two-deep rosters awarded by vote. However, have the voting done by four facets: fans, managers, players and general managers. Each group having an equal 25% share of the vote. The top two players at each position get voted in, and the rest of the rosters will be picked by the manager, taking into account positional requirements and making certain each team is represented.