More on the Draft

» 14 August 2009 » In international baseball, mlb, npb »

My posts (1, 2) on flaws with MLB draft (and by association, the NPB draft) elicited some interesting and occasionally impassioned responses.

After writing those original posts, I came across some interesting ideas put forth by writers whom I read regularly. Here are a couple of the more interesting ones:

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus speculates that we might see a more controlled draft in the future:

Said one exec, “Look, Bobby Abreu can’t find a job and then signs for $5 million. While 16-year-old are getting signed off sandlots in the Dominican for $3 and $4 million? That’s the kind of thing that’s going to get the union going,” he added, while predicting than during the next bargaining session, once the players figure out what they want, them giving into financially harnessing the signing system for both draftees and international players will be what they use for leverage.

There are also some indications that both sides might not be willing to wait for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, as multiple sources have indicated that the reason for Bryce Harper’s early entry into college in order to be eligible for the 2010 draft revolves as much around his desire to sign within a system with no limits, rather than being subject a more controlled draft that could be in place sometime down the road.

Jim Allen of the Daily Yomiuri seems to favor more of a universally free system:

[Junichi] Tazawa was able to choose the club he thought was the best fit for him. A Japanese who aspires to take his game to the highest levels here has to negotiate with the team assigned to him through NPB’s draft. By going to America, he could choose from among different options.

Draft apologists say the system is necessary to maintain competitive balance, which it has. But its purpose from Day 1 was to cheat amateurs of the right to sell their own services to the highest bidder.

In most markets, this would be considered contemptible. It’s an indictment of the baseball business that depriving people of their rights is standard operating procedure in MLB and NPB and acceptable to the fans.

Commetor Crawdad of the Orioles Hangout, had my favorite response to my original post:

What might work better would be that teams pay into a draft bank. The bank receive money in a progressive format where teams that take in more money than others pay more to it. Each team is allotted 35 slots and those slots have a cost fixed to them that decrease.

For instance:
1 slot at 5MM
1 slot at 2.5MM
1 slot at 1MM
1 slot at 0.5MM
1 slot at 0.3MM
15 slots at 0.05MM
15 slots at 0.015MM

Players can sign with any team and if a player exceeds the slot in terms of MLB performance, MLB pays dividends out to the players until they reach arbitration.

So there is impetus for change and ideas being articulated. I hope we see a more free, fair system sometime in the future.

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