MLB's Plans for an International Draft Are Out (UPDATE: The Last Hurdle?)

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MLB’s Plans for an International Draft Are Out (UPDATE: The Last Hurdle?)

Chicago Cubs

UPDATE: The below post is from over the weekend when the league’s international draft proposal came out. I’m bumping it because there are reports that it has become a critical component of the CBA negotiations (one even indicates it’s the last major hurdle, with the owners badly wanting it and the players opposed).

We know that MLB and its owners have been seeking an international draft for quite some time, nominally as a matter of fairness and ridding the system of some of the ills that have plagued it. That said, a lot of the thinking was that constraining the markets for player services would also come with the ability to reduce, or at least control, costs. Presumably that would be the most attractive part to the owners (but hold that thought).

That is all to say, it was a good bet that an international draft would be a significant part of these CBA discussions, and it has been reported that, indeed, the owners are seeking to have it implemented this time around.

What we haven’t known, until now, is what the actual draft might look like. Thank you, Jesse Sanchez:

Among the particulars in MLB’s proposal, per Sanchez:

⇒ The draft, which would be wholly separate from the US/Puerto Rico/Canada draft you already know, would be 20 rounds with no passing. Every pick would have a hard slot, and the overall money going to the draftees would – according to MLB – be a substantial overall increase in international spending on international prospects. I don’t like the idea of taking negotiations out of the equation for these prospects, but if the MLBPA checks MLB’s math and sees that it would indeed result in more money overall going to these young international players, they might still accept it.

⇒ Undrafted players can still sign (though the precise limitations on how much they could sign for is unclear). Eligibility for the draft is based on the same ages currently in the IFA system (i.e., around age 16).

⇒ Draft order is not reverse standings, and would instead be based on each team getting randomly assigned to a group of six teams, and then the groups rotate where they draft over the course of the CBA.

⇒ Notably, all picks would be tradable for this draft. (Still TBD whether that will ever come to the Rule 4 Draft.)

⇒ Also, there’s an incentive structure in place to get extra picks if you draft and sign players from “non-traditional international baseball countries.” The idea there is to try to grow the game more internationally. I’d love to see the particular rules on that, though, because it seems like an extremely easy way to get extra picks.

Although an international draft has not been explicitly agreed to in this round of CBA negotiations, which obviously are still far from settled, most in the industry expect that it will happen. So, although there will probably be tweaks, this could be roughly the system we’ll be looking at as soon as next year.


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.