Here’s a little update on the state of talks about what to do with the 2020 MLB Draft, scheduled to take place June 10-12.
You’ll recall, there has been talk about all kinds of options – proceed as scheduled? Postpone it? Cancel it? – but it’s wrapped up in the broader discussions about how to proceed with this season, if and when it gets underway.
The latest from Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark suggests more people involved in the talks see that it could be a big mistake to bump the draft this year (I agree):
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 24, 2020
For the most part, it seems like the only argument in favor of cancelling the draft (and international free agency) is that the money savings could be redistributed by MLB teams at a time when revenues will be hit hard. And I don’t want to totally dismiss that, because we don’t want to see teams laying off employees. The flip side, of course, is that amateur spending is historically only about 4% of revenues (per The Athletic’s piece), and it would seem there are other ways to make sure employees are taken care of in an industry that historically has done so well financially.
Setting aside the financial considerations, there are a number of reasons not to move or cancel the draft: you want the annual flow of talent, you don’t want to create crazily uneven talent years, you would love for the Draft to be a big attention moment in sports when there’s not much else to follow, you could really screw college teams and high school seniors, etc.
So what about a compromise? As Rosenthal and Stark lay out, there’s a possibility that, instead of postponed or canceled, the draft could be reworked for this year, making it a MUCH shorter affair (two to three rounds is what is mentioned), so that it can still proceed for elite talent. How you deal with bonus pools and undrafted players would have to be negotiated.
Among a whole lot of bad options, this seems like a much less bad option than cancelling the draft this year and just trying to smash it all together next year. I think, for me, I’d want to see a little more than just three rounds, and I’d want to know that undrafted players who really want to sign would have an opportunity to do so without having their value totally crushed by some unnecessarily low cap on spending. (Which, let’s be honest, would also probably be good for the Cubs, who always max out spending on the draft, and have been aggressively preparing for this draft class with a new VP of Scouting in Dan Kantrovitz.)