Seemingly lost in the big news that MLB players and owners finalized a new five-year collective bargaining agreement is this little tidbit:

The minimum salary increases, from $327,000 this year to $380,000 next season, and amateur draft pick compensation for some free agents who sign with new teams, will be eliminated.

So, theoretically, the Yankees can sign now anyone with no real penalty. Man, this would have helped in the past 5 years or so. Still, over this offseason and the next couple of years, there are some big free agents that are expiring on the Yanks' side (Mussina, Sheffield, Abreu, etc.), so they wouldn't get any compensation for those guys either. It will be interesting to see how this pans out, especially with the salary cap increase (though the article doesn't mention if the penalty rates - the Yankees are at 40% right now - will be reset back to 25% and then rise again).

The payroll threshold for the luxury tax increases from $136.5 million this year to $148 million next year, then goes up about 5 percent annually, a baseball official familiar with the deal said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Oh, and if the Nationals lose Soriano to another team, their management now looks inept (or more so) for not dealing him at the trade deadline.

Update: Steve L. over at WasWatching takes a quick look at the CBA and tries to find the answer to my earlier question while opening up a new one about the stadium-cost deduction. Interesting - if anyone has any definitive answers, let either of us know.