An update on the logistics of the MLB Draft, which you’ll recall is subject to the interim agreement between MLB and the players for this season.
Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich report that the players were not on board with the league’s first proposal:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 1, 2020
It’s been anticipated for a while that the draft this year would shrink to between five and ten rounds (down from 40), as the interim agreement permits MLB to unilaterally decided to shrink it to just five. But, it’s always better when you can get both sides on board. So, to that end, you might think 10 rounds was a good offer.
Maybe it was, but, after the first five rounds (slot values the same as last year), slots would be cut in half from last year, and would also be hard capped. Moreover, teams could sign no more than five undrafted players at a $20,000 bonus (and then any other undrafted player they wanted to sign could get no more than $5,000).
Although the players in the current union would not be directly impacted by the draft changes, there are a number of indirect impacts, the most obvious of which is the talent pool coming into the sport. Most players want that pool to remain large, and they want young players to be able to sign for large bonuses out of the draft.
MLB’s current proposal would dramatically limit the realistic inflow of talent this year. Many picks from rounds six to ten would simply not sign at half slot prices (barely more than $100K in the 6th round), and how many top talents are going to sign for just $20,000 or $5,000 if they go undrafted?
As we know, since we’re not naive, cutting the draft dramatically this year would work hand-in-hand with MLB’s proposal to axe 40+ minor league baseball teams and restructure those leagues. Fewer players means there is simply less of a need for 160+ teams. So it’s possible the players union also sees this mini battle on the draft as a way to help the minor league negotiations (though, by most recent accounts, that is still going to end with a huge number of teams getting cut).
In any case, this isn’t a huge battle just yet. There’s still over a month before the draft is going to go down, and each side is permitted to just kinda toss out proposals for the structure of the draft. My guess is it winds up being 10 rounds, and the bonus values move up slightly in those later rounds and UDFA. That’s my minimum hope, anyway.