I wish there weren’t a feeling of “regularly-scheduled doom and gloom,” but the reality of the national situation is such that MLB’s talks with the players about what this season could look like will necessarily include some really ugly possibilities.
AP sources: MLB could skip draft to preserve cash; service time a big issue in talks with union. https://t.co/SB3wI6VQgz
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) March 19, 2020
To be sure, cancelling all amateur signings (draft and international free agency) for the year is reportedly only among many discussions about how to deal with an unprecedented and still very uncertain situation.
The thinking would be: the teams are going to lose monstrous amounts of revenue, but their negotiations with the players may result in still full or near-full salaries being paid, so cancelling amateur spending for a year ($400 million league-wide) could be a way to bridge that gap. Woof. Is $13 million per club really going to be enough to cancel such a critical part of the sport?
I don’t really even want to start thinking about what would happen if there were no draft (how do you sort out picks next year? what about player eligibility?) or no IFA (what about pre-arranged deals? the Cubs are reportedly set to sign the top player in the class, naturally). I’ve got to believe we’re still a ways off from the league actually having to commit to a decision like this.
Cancelling the draft and IFA is just one possibility if (1) the scheduling plans get pushed so far back that the season becomes a shell of what it could be, and (2) negotiations between the league and the players are massively contentious.
… although, it’s really not hard to see both of those things becoming true. As you could anticipate, there is already a measure of disagreement about how to deal with service time and player salaries, even though there are still months to go before games even begin again.
With some time – and some tremendous luck that national efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 have been successful – maybe the sides can figure something out that won’t end the draft and IFA this year. But these are unbelievable times, so unbelievable things might happen.