Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal reported earlier today that Major League Baseball and the Players Association are pushing hard to create a world wide draft before June 1st of this year.

This has been coming for the past few years. Baseball has talked about it for a while, but when they announced that starting in 2012 they were going to begin limiting the amount of money teams could spend internationally, with limits for entire teams under what teams had paid individual players the year before, the writing was on the wall that baseball was making the move toward a world wide draft.

Last season, all teams were capped with an international limit of $2.9M to sign players on the international market (under the age of 23). The plan for this year is that depending on your record last year, your cap will be staggered  and some teams will have roughly $1.3M to sign players for the entire international signing season.

ESPN.com’s TJ Quinn wrote an article a year ago about the concern over the new rules in place on the international market. There are a lot of very good points from the article, but one that really is noteworthy to where we are today is this paragraph:

MLB eventually wants to establish a worldwide draft that would “hard slot” players, meaning a player’s signing bonus would be determined by where in the draft he’s selected. The MLBPA, which would prefer all players be free agents, accepted the new rules as a compromise, figuring it was a better option than an international draft. If MLB is ever able to successfully push for a draft through collective bargaining, the union wants to make sure there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, that the policy is adjusted country by country.

It seems that in the time span of a year, the players association has changed their tune. But more interesting to me is that MLB wants the system to be a “hard slot” system. On the surface, I don’t reject that plan. Heck, I would love to see that plan put in place in the June Amateur Rule 4 First Year Player Draft as well. But, it does leave me with a bunch of questions. What is the slot money looking like compared to how guys have been paid over the last five years? Is this move being made to “level the playing field” when it comes to talent acquisition or is it being made so the owners can save a million or two a year while hurting the players where that money can truly make a difference? Will the age limit for the international draft be moved to 18, or will the rules remain the same as the international signing period?

One last point from the previously mentioned ESPN.com article, one that I find incredibly interesting is this:

But another alternative Jacobo says trainers and players will consider is signing with Japanese clubs, which also have academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. For the average Dominican player facing equal offers, it might be better to go to the United States, but for the top-end prospects, a $5 million offer from a Japanese club could be more than enough to lure a player who can’t make more than $2.9 million in this hemisphere.

That is certainly interesting that it was brought up. We clearly haven’t seen it happen yet, but we have also only been in this model for one year at this point. If MLB again cuts into the bonus money available to these players, I think it is a real possibility that we could see top prospects head to Japan instead of signing with MLB teams and that would be a real shame. Japan has limits on the number of foreign players that are allowed to be on their rosters, so if this option ever is used, it will only be for the premiere level guys rather than a whole bunch of players. Still, losing out on talent is bad for the business of baseball.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any concerns?

16 Responses

  1. RobL

    This move is absolutely about saving money. The NBA did it first after Glenn Robinson. Then the NFL followed after Sam Bradford/JaMarcus Russell et al. Costs for talent rises, and teams are unable to be fiscally responsible. First they cap the players salary, then they cap the rookies salary. Baseball is blessed (or cursed depending on your view) with a very strong union. They have been able to put off a cap for a long time. But they have had to sacrifice other avenues. Now harder caps are coming for the amatuers. Strasburg and Harper and the guy Pittsburgh got in the second roun two years ago were the straws that broke the camel’s back. The owners don’t want spending to get out of hand for players that may never see a big league field.

    I will cut baseball a little slack because they give 3 million to 16 year olds. The casual fan doesn’t even know the team is doing these things. Whereas football and basketball sell season tickets because of who they draft high in the first round. Their amatuer spending creates revenue before the player plays.

    But yes, owners want to save themselves from themselves.

  2. MK

    The argument that Latin players may go to Japan to beat the cap. Why can’t the same be said for players currently participating in the draft. Maybe the next Bryce Harper signs with Japan instead of MLB.

    For some Latins, no the elites but those that a team has scouted and hid, maybe they get a larger bonus now than they would have.

  3. Ryan the Red

    I think they should do it like the amateur draft in that teams that struggled the year before have a chance to grab the best talent. I don’t think they should cap the amount per pick however. Not only do you risk loosing top players you possibly hurt teams by not allowing them to spend the amount needed to get those top players. Not only that but often times when these kids sign from Latin America, they are dirt poor so money is a huge factor for them( IE. An american gets $100,000 he buys a car and maybe some things for mom and dad/A kid from the slums of the Dominican uses that to get his family the heck out of that situation). I am totally against this if this is just a way to limit spending for these International FA. An extra couple thousand to a few million wont break the teams but it could make or break some of these kids lives.

    • Jimmer

      MLB is not a charity. If the kids have the talent they will eventually be able to cash in.

      • Doug Gray

        It isn’t about being a charity, it is about being fair to the players.

  4. Ryan the Red

    Another point i just thought about is why they are wanting to do this in the first place. I mean I look at signing Int. FA as the absolute riskiest investment(almost throwing money away) available for team. So for a cash strapped team, they may not even want to sign their first rounder just b/c its such a crap shoot. And for teams with money, i see it this way, go ahead and spend million after million if you so desire b/c there is a very good chance you just wasted millions. I think its important though that teams have the ability go after whom they want in the FA market. IMO free agency is best for the players and teams in this context.

  5. Ron

    I agree its about saving money. Teams see these signing bonuses they have to give to 16 year old kids, who don’t always pan, and think they can find a cheaper way to get them. Until there is across the board revenue sharing like in the NFL, there will never be a level playing field. Big market teams with big market TV deals will always have a financial advantage. Whether they are smart with that advantage is another thing … because teams like the Rays and Reds have been kicking more than a couple of the high revenue team’s butts in the scouting department.

  6. Alan Horn

    Francisco has been having a strong spring for the Braves(3-5 with a HR today). So has the other guy(C. Johnson) they got from the Diamondbacks in the Upton trade. It will be interesting to see if it holds up during the season. I read the Braves plan to sit him against LH pitchers. Johnson has been playing a lot of 1B also.

    • Ryan the Red

      I dont think many(if any) doubted the power and he has usually had a high avg. His downfall has always been defense and an inability to take a walk. If he could improve those two things he could be a dangerous middle of the order bat but thats a big if.

    • Doug Gray

      2 walks, 15 strikeouts. He is just a guy who can hit fastballs beating up on spring training fastballs.

  7. hunr4redsoct

    A couple of notes from Arizona: Billy Hamilton is really fast, tonight’s triple was a double for anyone else. JJ Hoover looked great, a couple of weak foul balls in his four k’s. Something may be up with Mark Berry. He was in my hotel this morning (not the team hotel), at the time I thought it was weird because it was well past the time I usually see coaches at the complex. Then tonite Chris Spier was coaching third. After the game, I asked reds beat writer if he knew what was up, he said he needed to ask Dusty. Was anything mentioned during the broadcast?

    • Doug Gray

      I wasn’t listening, so I couldn’t tell you if anyone said anything during the broadcast about Berry. If something is, I am sure we will know soon enough.

      JJ Hoover has been dominant this spring. 14 strikeouts, 1 walk, 8 innings. He is going to force himself onto this roster.

  8. hunr4redsoct

    From the minor league side, I saw the A level teams play the Indians. Sal Romano looked good. pitcher Austin Salter looked very good. But the guy I am very impressed with this spring is Yorman Rodriguez. He doubled and walked with a stolen base. I spoke with a friend that works for the Reds who said that Yorman is a different person this year, he has really matured. He expects great things from him this year. He also told me to.keep an eye on Seth Mejias-brean, that he should move quickly and is the third baseman of the future.

    • Doug Gray

      I had begun to hear rumblings about a changed Rodriguez last year during the season. You could see it on the field in Dayton, but I also heard about things he was now doing off of the field that he wasn’t before. Hopefully that trend continues with him. More so, I am hopeful that his propensity to take a walk continues into this season from the spring. If he can swing less outside of the zone, he can be a very good hitter.