For a long time I have been very much against Major League Baseball having an international draft. There are a lot of reasons for it, but mostly it’s been because it would be set up to limit the amount of money that would be given to players. We’ve seen, time after time, Major League Baseball owners, and the Major League Baseball Players Association sell out the free agency rights to amateur players in the draft and on the international scene in order to limit their bonuses. That’s always rubbed me the wrong way.

But late last night I began to think that an international draft was the best move for Major League Baseball. And it was for the worst kinds of reasons. Last night a report came out from Nathanael Perez Nero of Diaro Libre about Major League Baseball teams being in agreement to sign players in the Dominican Republic that are as young as 12-years-old.

By rule, teams are not allowed to have agreements with players until they are at least 16-years-old, and even then, only once they are eligible to sign on July 2nd of the year in which they are already 16 (or the date in that signing period in which they turn 16). Everyone knows that this doesn’t actually get applied as on July 2nd teams sign 10+ guys each. And we also know where a lot of these guys are going to sign, and for how much, months, and sometimes even a year to a year-and-a-half in advance.

It was, and is bad enough when teams are agreeing to deals and contracts with 14-year-olds. Heck, it’s bad enough that it happens with 16-year-olds. The idea that teams are now, reportedly making deals with buscones for players that are 12-years-old is flat out crazy. The system in place in Latin American countries has long been full of corruption. And worse.

At this point, I’m just not sure what else can be done in order for things like agreeing to sign players so young, or to keep *some* of the corruption when it comes to skimming bonuses of players by buscones/agents than by implementing an actual international draft where they can’t come to agreements ahead of time and instead have to be open to all teams being able to select a player.

That system isn’t perfect. But the entire thing needs fixed. Major League Baseball shut down signings out of Mexico to try and fix the corruption that was going on there and just last week came to an agreement on new signing rules for players out of the country. Perhaps now is the time to finally step in and fix things. There’s nearly four months remaining until the next signing period begins. Shut signings down now and set up a new system of how teams can and are allowed to acquire players. Get rid of as many things as you can to try and fix the system – not for the owners to save money – but for the people involved.

8 Responses

  1. Doc

    Wonder how big a bonus I could have gotten at age 12, right before my hitting evaporated at age 13! I agree with you, Doug. Greed knows no boundaries, and leveling the playing field, or at least reducing the degree of tilt, will never happen when 30 front offices make their own decisions about what is right, fair and responsible.

  2. The Duke

    Buscones have controlled this process for generations now, it’s not exactly a new development. They target talent in 8-9 year olds and start training them as a full time thing until they either make them money or give up on them. That teams are trying to get an advantage and get to the most promising talent first isn’t surprising, and I would guess has gone on for a long time at age 12-13 already. International draft and let these kids have access to proper representation who won’t rob them blind.

  3. Bryan

    Or perhaps you have domestic free agents and remove the draft entirely…

    • Doug Gray

      Can you explain how that would fix the problem of teams trying to agree to deals with 12-year-olds?

  4. MK

    Think we need to look at what currently goes on in the U.S. with college prospects who are now making commitments to Division I schools as early as age 14 and younger. I know this as a fact as my grandaughter made a verbal softball commitment to an ACC school as a High School Freshman and had offers from three others including schools in Big 10, SEC, and MVC. Four other girls from her Summer team have also agreed to similar deals. Bottom Line if the U.S. colleges are offering tens of thousands of dollars in schooling to kids this young why would there be a surprise professional teams would be doing the same.

  5. Bryan

    I don’t think that that is the primary problem, I also don’t think it is surprising. If players have control over which organization they can sign with then it seems like it’s reasonable to believe there is a lengthily courting period. Like other comments have mentioned – this happens with US colleges programs all the time (not 12, but 14 or 15, and considering they will be going to college at 18 or 19, it’s basically the same).

  6. Seadog

    Could not agree more with the point it is disgusting to see kids 12/13/14 being basically “used”. The same with high school kids in the states. I believe the recruiting process has to change. Simple—no contact until they are “officially” a junior in high school. At the same time-How do you monitor this? Just like international signings. If you raise the age to sign to 18–How do you monitor it? I don’t see how a draft helps. They still will recruit these kids at 12/13/14 Let the kids be kids. I agree there is a problem Hopefully someone smarter than me, less greedy than MLB owners will step in.

  7. cinvenfan

    Professional sports need a long overlook in the US and abroad.
    It’s a very complicated matter, no doubt. Poor families in Latin America with talented children see these bonuses as a way to escape poverty and they are urged to get it as soon as possible. Buscones know this and take advantage. Teams do too and their executives, forced to show quick results, fall for it.
    It’s also happening in the college recruiting system as mentioned by other fellow posters and not only in baseball.
    Perhaps having a well thought draft process might help. But at the end of the day, only a strong effort to enforce the rules is the way to have a “clean” system.