In a big change from years past, Major League Baseball is set to hold its annual amateur draft in July, rather than June, pairing it with the All-Star festivities, beginning on Sunday, July 11. Of course, with today’s news that MLB is pulling the All-Star Game out of Atlanta, the location for the draft is now suddenly TBD.
But it isn’t just the where and the when that’ll be different this year – the size will also be very different. We know that last year’s draft was limited to just five rounds because of the pandemic and the contraction of minor league operations, but it was always the expectation that this year’s draft would also be reduced from the typical 40 rounds.
Basically, MLB had the option to make the round any length from 20 rounds and up, and it went with the expected 20 rounds:
MLB has informed MLB's teams that the 2021 draft will be limited to 20 rounds.https://t.co/DldQh8MmWa
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) April 2, 2021
To be sure, fewer rounds will mean less expenditures for teams, but the reality is that many executives (i.e., the ones happy to spend as much as they’re permitted) thought the draft was way too long already. And that was before nearly a quarter of the minor league teams were excised, leaving even fewer jobs to be filled by way of the draft. Reducing the draft to 20 rounds will not necessarily have a dramatically negative impact on the inflow of players into the sport (the reduction in teams is arguably where you already made that impact, so that’s where I’d be more inclined to beef).
Frankly, I’m just glad they didn’t figure out a way to go even shorter, and I’m really looking forward to the draft this year. I don’t love that it’s smack dab in the middle of trade season now, but I understand MLB aiming to get more attention on its draft during All-Star weekend.
The Chicago Cubs will pick 21st in the first round this year, and then next at 56 (second round). They have no compensatory picks this year, and they never qualify for competitive balance picks.