Ed Szczepanski/Getty Images
Teams bidding on King Albert might not have to pay draft picks in the future.
In many ways, the new CBA was murder on the small markets. As we saw in the previous slide, teams that acquire free agents will be able to keep their picks a lot more often. That's bad news for small market teams. Losing first and second round picks might not seem like much, but some GMs with money avoid signing those guys because they don't want to give up the picks.
Now, most free agents will not cost the receiving team at all. Fortunately, the team losing the player will still get the sandwich pick, but the barrier to movement has largely been moved. Additionally, teams cannot trade for players mid-season and get the pick. That player must be with them for the entire season.
Naturally, the reverse is true. A team with a mid-market payroll can go for broke and sign a marquee free agent or two without completely mortgaging their future. In 2007, the Astros forfeited their first two draft picks when they signed Carlos Lee and Woody Williams. Due to the timing of those deals, they would have retained those picks under the new rules.
So, under the current rules, Crane Co. can be a little more aggressive in free agency and still rebuild the farm system as they have promised. It remains to be seen how aggressive they will be, but the opportunity is there.