MLB offers international draft as part of CBA negotiations

The concept of a draft for amateur international talent has long been on Major League Baseball’s agenda, as the league sees a draft as a way to further overhaul how teams acquire (and how much they spend) international talent. The owners have offered the players an international draft as part of CBA negotiations, and’s Anthony Castrovince has the details on the specifics of what the league wants.

The proposed international draft would last 20 rounds (including additional competitive balance rounds for low-income teams) and have a hard-slot system with prizes awarded to each pick. The June amateur draft, by comparison, recommended slot prizes for each selection, but teams are allowed to sign players for any amount, as long as teams do not exceed their draft bonus pool. global. This flexibility wouldn’t exist in the international draft, though the top picks would still fetch a significant sum – Castrovince writes that the top pick in the international draft would receive $5.25 million.

That $5.25 million figure is more than any bonus given to a player in the 2021-22 international signing period. However, that number only represents what the first pick would receive, thus limiting the amount of money any other top international-class prospect would land under a draft system. Additionally, $5.25 million is still below one of the recommended slot prizes for one of the top seven picks in the 2021 Entry Draft.

Although international prospects are not officially union members, the MLBPA is likely to take umbrage at the idea of ​​a hard-slot bonus system, given the strict limits it places on a player’s earning potential. individual player. From a league perspective, less money would go to top-notch prospects at the top of a draft class, but more money would go to the class as a whole. Castrovince writes that under the draft proposal, the top 600 players would receive $172.5 million in bonuses in total, compared to $163.9 million for the top 600 bonuses awarded to players during the international signature 2019-2020.

The league also sees the draft framework as a way to put more money into the hands of the actual international prospects themselves, rather than the “buscones” who often act as unofficial agents, managers and coaches for these players. As Maria Torres and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently illustrated, there is no small amount of corruption in the current international signing system, and MLB’s argument is that a draft would end the practice of teams making unofficial deals with buscones over years of prospecting. before they are old enough to be signed. On the other hand, the counter-argument could be made that a draft simply restricts a prospect’s decision-making in another form, and that the issues with the buscone system could be resolved if the league takes a stronger crackdown. hard to apply the existing rules on scouting. international actors.

In the draft proposal, teams would still not be allowed to select players under the age of 16. The league is also not changing the list of countries that qualify as sources of international prospects in a draft, although Castrovince writes that “in an effort to grow the game, clubs would receive additional selections to recruit and sign players from non-traditional international baseball countries.

Beyond the players selected in the 20 rounds, teams could also sign any eligible international prospects who have not been selected, in the same way that a flurry of signings of undrafted players regularly follows the conclusion of the draft. june lover. Notably, teams would also be required to make their 20 picks rather than passing any pick, although teams would be allowed to trade any of their picks.

The deadline for signature would be three weeks after the end of the project. The exact timing of said draft is not specified, whether it would take place around July 2 (the traditional opening of the international signing period), in January (when the last two international signing periods opened due to of the pandemic) or maybe another spot on the calendar entirely.

In another interesting wrinkle, the draft order would not be tied to a team’s arrival in the previous regular season. Instead, the 30 teams would be divided into random groups of six, and then each group of six would be rotated through the draft order over a period of five years. For example, the Phillies, Blue Jays, Mariners, Dodgers, Brewers, and Tigers could all be put together in a pool and given the top six picks in a hypothetical 2023 international draft. For the 2024 draft, these same six teams would then be redistributed to places 7-12, while another group of six clubs would get their turn at the top of the table.

The idea is, as Castrovince writes, to give all 30 teams “equal access to international talent throughout the life of the ABC”. It’s fair to speculate whether the MLBPA could use that same logic in its other negotiations with the league over changes to the June entry draft, as decoupling the draft order from the regular season record would certainly appear to resolve the union’s concerns. regarding team tanking. However, the two sides appear to have agreed in principle on the idea of ​​a lottery for at least some of the top picks in the amateur draft, even though owners and players have yet to set the exact number of teams. involved in the lottery.

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