Draft pick signing deadline
As part of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), an August 15 deadline was instituted for teams to sign their draft picks. No longer would negotiations drag out for an entire year like what happened most recently with the Diamondbacks and Max Scherzer. The owners were hoping for set bonuses for draft picks in the CBA negotiations, but instead they got the earlier deadline. The league does set a slotting system where they recommend bonuses, but other than coming down on the owner in a back door meeting, the system has no teeth.
Instead, what you have are several teams holding off until close to the last minute to officially sign their players so the system doesn’t blow up. As it stands, four of the top five picks (as I’m writing this) haven’t signed yet and as expected, if they do, it’ll be announced after this report goes to press.
Teams do get some compensation if they’re unable to sign their player. They get the next pick in the following year’s draft, so if, for example, the Royals are unable to sign second overall pick Mike Moustakas, they’ll get the third pick in the draft in the 2008 draft. For more information on the deadline, be sure to check out Jeff Passan’s and Murray Chass’ columns on the subject.
Upper Deck extends tender offer for Topps
The Upper Deck Company announced that it’ll be extending its tender offer to purchase the stock of rival baseball card maker Topps Company. Upper Deck took its takeover attempt hostile when Topps snubbed it in favor of an offer by a group led by former Disney chairman Michael Eisner. The offer by Eisner’s group would keep management in place, so you have some people looking out for their jobs while in the meantime, Upper Deck is trying to sway the shareholders of the company with its offer.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens because Topps, which has been a mainstay in the baseball card industry since the 1950s, could effectively disappear. I’ve collected cards and I have every base Topps set going back to 1978, and it kind of bums me out that there could be a final Topps set. Then again, if management has its way, Topps will probably still be around in some fashion.
Nationals pinching pennies when it comes to new stadium
The Washington Nationals are beginning to take some heat because to date, they’ve pitched in just $8 million toward the construction of their new ballpark that’s set to open in 2008. This was after the team said it’d spend as much as $50 million on stadium improvements. Under the terms of the agreement with Washington, D.C., the team is required to provide $20 million by the end of the year; the $50 million would have been over and above this to make more entertainment-oriented improvements to the stadium.
Kane County Cougars set single-game attendance mark
The Kane County Cougars, the Single-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, set the Midwest League-single game attendance record this past Saturday when they had 14,492 fans show up for what they were billing as the world’s largest pillow fight. The previous record was also held by the Cougars, set back in 2003 when 14,452 showed up at Elfstrom Stadium, the team’s home.
Omaha gearing up for stadium battle
Rosenblatt Stadium has quite a bit of tradition behind it. It’s been home to the College World Series since 1950, and it’s also the home of the Omaha Royals, the Kansas City Royals Triple-A affiliate. So when Omaha mayor Mike Fahey began suggesting that it might be better to build a new stadium rather than pour more money into Rosenblatt, he must have known that things were gearing up for a fight.
Now, according to this excellent Baseball America column by Josh Leventhal, a Save Rosenblatt group has been formed, and to date, they’ve gotten 7,700 signatures. One big issue is that the old ballpark needs some work, and it’s estimated that they’ll need to spend $25 million just to keep the College World Series while a new stadium could questionably be built for $50 million. Another option appears to be a partial teardown and rebuilding of the old stadium. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how the entire matter shapes up.