With the delay of the MLB regular season and the increasing likelihood that a 162 game season wouldn’t happen, the owners and players cut a deal on how to proceed. One impactful measure came at the expense of the draft.
The Mariners hold the #6 pick in this year’s draft and it was supposed to be a great opportunity for them to close the gap between themselves and the upper-tier of the AL. The draft is the best and cheapest way to add young talent to your organization and to begin the professional careers of thousands of 17-23-year-old talents.
While the draft has never been a major draw for the sport and most writers would like to pretend it doesn’t exist, it is a crucial part of the game of baseball. But after the MLBPA and owners came to their agreement today, it’s value was just nerfed to near irrelevance.
The MLB Draft, typically conducted in early June and lasting 40 rounds, will likely be trimmed to just 5 rounds. On top of this, undrafted free agents will have their signing bonus capped at $20,000 and players selected will only get $100,000 of their owed bonus in 2020 and won’t be entirely paid out until July of 2022.
Obviously, there is any number of problems with this setup. For example, the first pick of the 6th round is worth $300,000 in signing bonuses. Teams can offer more or less and it’s up to the player and his reps to decide whether or not to accept it. But this year, that player will be worth just $20,000. To put that in perspective, most college seniors who are selected as slot saving picks would make at least that.
This hurts the college players who aren’t drafted and will force talented prep players to go to college where they won’t be draft-eligible for another 3 years. So why announce this terrible system?
Well, MLB will go out of their way to tell you that thanks to COVID-19, they don’t have enough information to execute a typical draft. But let’s be honest with each other: the owners are greedy, plain and simple. By not having to shell out the money to sign 30-40 players, they pocket a meager sum of money that could be as little as $2 million each. There isn’t an MLB team worth less than 1 billion dollars. This 2 million dollar represents 0.002 of $1 billion.
In short, the MLB Draft is being wrecked and amateur players are being screwed because a group of billionaires doesn’t want to shell out a penny to pay new talent and that plan came with the MLBPA’s stamp of approval.
The only people who came away with a win in this deal are the 30 people who absolutely didn’t need one. Shame on MLB and the MLBPA for not looking out for the future members of their union. They got next to nothing in return, so at least it was worth it, right?