I’ll admit that I’m still not entirely clear on why draft picks are not tradable in Major League Baseball. I mean, I get why they were originally not tradable – there was a fear back in the ’60s and ’70s that picks would be so unevenly valued by different organizations that some organizations would just throw them away in trade – but that seems just an absurd explanation today, when every single organization desperately loves them some draft picks (and expanded bonus pools).
So, then, why are draft picks still not freely tradable? The only picks that can be traded right now are competitive balance picks, which come after the first round and second round, and represent a very limited pool of picks. Not only would freely tradable picks be fun for fans to follow, but it would also provide organizations – whether small market or rebuilding or competing – another path toward maneuvering their competitive timeline.
And maybe it’s finally coming?!
Buried in a very long (and very good) roundtable-type piece on the state of baseball at ESPN, Kiley McDaniel slipped in this little nugget on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (emphasis mine):
There’s also a cascading set of secondary issues that will greatly affect young players who are increasingly the most valued and important players in the game.
On the simple end of things, changing Super Two arbitration and ending service-time manipulation will change when you see young potential stars on the field (hopefully sooner) and how good your team will be. One step deeper than that, the expected addition of trading draft picks, the addition of an international draft and the trading of picks in that new draft could completely change team-building strategies for years to come while solving some of the competitive-balance issues that have plagued the sport. If a new GM steps into a farm system with a big league club full of players who aren’t their type, or an existing GM wants to change strategies on a dime, this additional talent-based liquidity will make trades much easier to pull off while also empowering scouts to have a real reason to scout every player on Earth.
I’m sorry, did you say the expected addition of trading draft picks? As in, the inside dish expectation right now is that the new CBA will include the ability to freely trade draft picks? Like, tradable next year? Hello!
While this is just one insider’s note in a set of much broader points, McDaniel is plugged in. So if he’s kinda casually slipping this into his section, I’m taking big-time note. This will absolutely be something to follow and root for, in my view.
As for the comment on an international draft, that’s been in the offing for years now, and since the sport went to a hard-capped international bonus pool system, it increasingly made less and less sense not to go to a (separate) draft. Not only could the spending on players be the same, but you could also do away with those handshake deals that get done with players and their trainers when they are only 14 or 15 years old. Again, as long as the players aren’t getting screwed in the process, I’ve come around on the idea of an international draft.