A year ago today, could you have imagined that the coming season would bring:
* 33 homers from Rougned Odor . . . who got out-OPS’d by Elvis Andrus?
* Adrian Beltre reaching a .300 average and a .350 OBP and a .500 SLG, and playing the second-most games on the club . . .
* . . . next to a shortstop whose market had crumbled, who signed a pillow contract in Texas after camps had opened, and who logged those team-leading 156 appearances — all at a new position?
* A career-ending injury for Prince Fielder?
* The American League Rookie of the Year in April and May — for a player who had opened the season in the minors?
* Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez and Carlos Beltran and Jeremy Jeffress?
* Brett Nicholas hitting more big league home runs than Joey Gallo?
* Yu Darvish hitting as many big league home runs as Joey Gallo?
* Matt Bush?
* Tony Barnette?
* Alex Claudio?
* The Down East Wood Ducks?
* Texas trading three of its top five prospects, and four of its top 10, in August and September?
* 15–4 against Houston?
* A historically insane 36–11 record in one-run games?
* 126 straight days alone in first place to finish the regular season?
* The winningest club in the American League, a franchise first . . . followed by zero playoff games won?
This is not an advertisement for the book (though, you know). It’s an invitation to suspend intuition — because ball never turns out quite the way we think it will.
CBA negotiations didn’t fully turn out as expected, but to nobody’s surprise the Dallas meetings between MLB and the Players Association led to a deal, and five more years of labor peace, before last night’s 12:00 a.m. deadline.
Among the notable changes in the new Agreement are:
* The All-Star Game result no longer determines home field for the World Series — it will now go to the pennant winner who had the better regular season record. (Hey there, 2011.)
* No international draft. This is good for the Rangers.
* A hard cap of roughly $4.75 million annually per team for international amateurs. This is not good for the Rangers.
* The Qualifying Offer system remains intact, but the consequences when a free agent who declined a QO signs with a new team change:
— Clubs who are over the luxury tax threshold will now forfeit their second- and fifth-highest picks (not necessarily a second-round pick and a fifth-round pick) — and possibly $1 million in international pool money, according to at least one report — when signing a free agent who declined a QO. They will no longer lose their first pick.
— Clubs under the tax line who sign a QO player will lose only their third-highest pick (and possibly $500,000 off their international cap).
— Clubs losing a player to whom they offered a QO will receive compensation as follows:
: If that player signs elsewhere for $50 million or more, the club will receive a supplemental first-round pick (as the rule has been).
: If he signs for less than $50 million, the club will receive a pick after the Competitive Balance Round that ends the second round — but if that club is over the luxury tax line, the pick moves to the end of the fourth round.
: So . . . all this overnight angst about Texas possibly getting diminished draft pick compensation if Darvish moves on after 2017 is unwarranted . . . if I’m reading stories about the CBA changes correctly.
— Players are no longer eligible to be QO’d more than once (not sure yet if this means in consecutive years, or over an entire career).
* Teams going at least $40 million over the luxury tax line will, as a result, have their highest draft pick drop by 10 slots.
* The minimum disabled list stay changes from 15 days to 10 days. One report suggests this option is only for pitchers.
Just don’t etch any of the above in stone just yet. Surely it will all get clarified once the actual CBA is published, or at least shared at a level that can be accurately reported.
But, for now, it’s December, which made me think about all that stuff at the top.
Tomorrow is the deadline for teams to tender 2017 contracts to their pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players. A.J. Griffin and Tanner Scheppers are probably the two most difficult decisions facing the Rangers — not because they wouldn’t want the righthanders back, but because what their arbitration-driven salaries project to be might not fit the club’s payroll structure.
Monday, the Winter Meetings kick off just outside Washington, D.C.
And the off-season will continue to play out after that, with Texas as usual making big news.
Then camps, and then ball.
I’m old enough to remember when you had a wait a week for a new episode of your can’t-miss TV show.
And if you missed it, good luck on ever seeing it.
It was decades before I was able to see the All in the Family episode in which Edith dies.
You can’t binge-watch a baseball season the day it opens, and you can’t take in the Hot Stove on demand.
And with a new CBA in line for ratification, eliminating a good bit of uncertainty among clubs as to how players should be valued going forward, plus tomorrow’s non-tender deadline, things are probably about to accelerate.
Maybe in ways we didn’t see coming.