[Ed. – As we approach the second half of the season, I suspect we’re going to see more and more public chatter about the upcoming CBA (current one expires after the 2016 season), which will be negotiated over the next year. There are a number of contentious issues to resolve, including draft-related problems. I thought this was a very interesting take from Luke.]
I am not a fan of the current draft system used by baseball and of the changes made by the last Collective Bargaining Agreement in particular. I think it has significantly increased the incentives for mediocre teams to become bad in a hurry, and as a result it has made tanking a real part of baseball on a consistent basis for the first time in a long time. Combine that with the very strange logic that led to the competitive balance picks (mid-market and small-market teams lack the funds to compete with the major markets, so let’s address the issue with something that isn’t money) and we have the makings for a draft setup that is so bad that I am actively looking forward to the next CBA in hopes it might improve.
Over at Baseball America, John Manuel has cast a light on another flaw under the current CBA, one that results in one of the strangest pieces of convoluted nonsense to emerge from these draft rules. In effect, baseball has now said that staying in college to finish your degree is a very significant financial mistake. Valuing the completion of an education can be a mistake that costs these players literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. When the correct answer is ‘Ditch school as soon as possible’, we need to change the questions.
This is a result of the fact that signing some players in the first ten rounds for less than slot value is all but essential to pull off a deep and successful draft. Because college seniors have virtually no leverage and pretty much have to sign for whatever they are offered, many teams are drafting and valuing them based simply on their willingness to sign for far less than slot. It doesn’t matter how well these players performed their senior year or how good their tools are, the fact that they went back for their senior year means they are often no longer able to be paid at the same rate as comparable players who are juniors and sophomores.
I like the draft concept as a media event and as a way to distribute talent in a somewhat controlled fashion, but these draft rules need a significant overhaul. When some college kids are put in a position that makes finishing their degree the wrong decision, something needs to change. Education is, and always will be, more important than baseball. Baseball needs to understand and reflect that.