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The CBA’s new international spending rules might help the Giants

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The Giants could get some help when it comes to their annual search for international prospects, even if they’ll have less money to spend.

angel villalona
A gentle reminder that giving money to prospects doesn’t fix everything.

According to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Padres will have an extra million dollars to spend every year on international prospects compared to the Giants. That seems annoying, but it’s all arranged by market size and big spenders now. Considering the Padres already went international-prospect wild on the baseball world just a few months ago, I’m not sure how to feel about this.

However, it’s my suspicion that the new rules on international spending will help the Giants, even if they’re one of the big-market teams that are supposed to be at a disadvantage. We’ll have a better idea next summer, but it’s hard to see too much of a downside. (From the Giants’ perspective. The amateur players got hosed, of course.)

First: It was clear that the Giants had no interest in getting into a lot of tinkling matches with the Dodgers and Red Sox. They swooped in and got Lucius Fox from the Dodgers, true, but for the most part, they let the Dodgers do their thing. And their thing was spending a ton of money, presumably on players the Giants would also want in a perfect world.

The Dodgers won’t have that money now. Of course, when you exclude Cuban signings, the Giants actually outspent the Dodgers in 2015, but that was a once-a-decade thing. The default has been for the Dodgers to blow the Giants (and the rest of baseball) out of the water on the international market, and now they can’t do that.

Second: The simple cap almost acts like the suggested gratuity line on a receipt. Can’t prove it, but I would assume the Giants would think something like, “Okay, we have $4.75 million to spend internationally this year” rather than, “Is this the year we blow past the cap and accrue penalties? Or should we do that next year? Or not at all?”

Third, and perhaps most important: There’s still an unspoken advantage for the high-visibility teams when it comes to an even financial field. Here, say you’re offered three jobs that require you to relocate. The salary, perks, and benefits are all the same. The first one is in Barstow. The second one is in Desert Hot Springs. The third one is in Carmel. Tick tock.

I’m not trying to poke fun at those cities! Maybe you like Southern California more, or maybe you like being a little farther removed from the big city life. There are people who would choose differently from you. But for the most part, they’ll choose Carmel. They’ve heard of it, and it’s kind of glamorous.

Same question, except you’re 16 and you have to choose between the Brewers, Diamondbacks, and Giants. Is it arrogant to compare the Giants with a filthy rich town of incalculably privileged people? No. No, that analogy probably works fine. Substitute your own analogies if you see fit, but you get the idea. Before, a small-market team could convince a player to choose them over the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs, or Giants with money. Now, they have to do it with a sales pitch.

I don’t think that’s especially fair, but it’s going to help the Giants.

Having less to spend than the Padres and Brewers of the world won’t help the Giants at all, and if they go over the luxury-tax threshold, they’ll lose an extra million if they sign a free agent for more than $50 million. So it’s not all gravy for them.

But for a team that never really wanted to act like a big-market franchise when it came to international prospects, this might encourage them just a little bit more.

And don’t forget this baby:

That’s the Felipe Alou Baseball Academy in the Dominican Republic, opening right in time for these changes. The Giants will have less money to spend, but so will their rivals. In the meantime, they can woo prospects with a shiny new academy and the prestige that’s transformed the team in the AT&T Park era.

Seems like a good thing? We have a year until we really find out, but I’m keeping positive. If they had more prospects, remember, they might have had a chance to get Andrew McCutchen. Maybe this will all help them get the McCutchen of the future, if not the next Miguel Cabrera.

I’ll settle for a Kenley Jansen, really.