Primarily for financial reasons, the MLB Draft – scheduled for June 10-12 – has come under the eye of the league and the players, who are negotiating arrangements for what the season could look like and how it would be structured, if and when baseball resumes.
On the thinking that revenues will be down considerably, some teams were hesitant to commit the usual range of dollars to amateur signings this year, particularly when there won’t be opportunities to actually scout most of the players in 2020. I don’t love it, but that’s the reality as they see it.
So the tentative plan for the Draft, which could be announced soon as part of a larger agreement, would involve a much shorter draft, a delay, deferred payments, and bare-bones dollars available to sign undrafted players:
a maximum bonus for undrafted players has been discussed. Most discussed number for that is $10,000. Could push lots of high school talent to college, middle-tier college talent to return to school.
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) March 26, 2020
Of note, the league has wanted to shrink the draft for some time now as part of their effort to simultaneously shrink the volume of affiliated minor league teams. While this move is couched as part of a plan to reserve funds for big league teams in a crisis, you can’t help but notice it would also serve as a first step in reducing the inflow of minor league players, which would also have been a first step in reducing the volume of minor league teams (their agreement with MLB is up in September).
We’ll see what the final deal looks like when it comes out, but I’m struck by the fact that half of the signing bonus dollars are deferred for TWO years, which seems like quite an aggressive ask by the teams, to say nothing of the modest $10,000 cap on undrafted signings. That’s less than 10% of the current limit, and the pool of undrafted players will be much, much larger this year.
Clearly, those players are being encouraged not to sign at all, which will result in an influx of players to college baseball from high school, and a huge volume of college players staying in school. It’s not the cycle that college teams are used to and plan their rosters for, so there will be negative consequences here.
Oh, also? Get ready for the tanking teams to tank even harder this year, because the 2021 draft class will be loaded.