The MLBPA rejected a proposal for the 2020 amateur draft. What does refusing MLB’s latest offer mean for the Boston Red Sox?
This is a highly unusual year for baseball and the draft will be one of many aspects to feel the ripple effect of a delayed season. The Boston Red Sox will already be a step behind in this draft and how much of a disadvantage that puts them at depends on what the revised format will be.
Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that the Major League Baseball Players Association rejected a proposal for the 2020 amateur draft from the commissioner’s office.
The sides agreed back in March that the draft would need to be restructured this year due to a loss in revenue while the season is on hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic. One of the most drastic changes would be slashing the number of rounds to as few as five from the standard 40.
The latest proposal called for 10 rounds but included other restrictions that the players found unacceptable. The first five rounds would have had slot values equivalent to the same picks as last year but the next five rounds would have 50 percent of those values with a hard cap on the signing bonuses at slot value.
MLB also wanted to limit teams to signing only five undrafted free agents at the maximum bonus amount of $20,000. An unlimited number of undrafted players could be signed for $5,000 or less.
Why does this matter to the Red Sox? MLB stripped Boston of their second-round pick for violating league rules to steal signs in 2018. A shortened draft places more value on each individual pick. The value of that missing draft pick increases as the number of rounds decreases, potentially resulting in a harsher penalty for what was supposed to be a misdemeanor offense.
One way to make up for that lost draft pick would be by investing in undrafted free agents. What they lose in quality they could make up for in quantity to replenish a thin farm system. The Red Sox have the financial resources to pay max bonuses to as many undrafted free agents as they can get their hands on. If we end up with between 5-10 rounds then many of those undrafted players would be more valuable than what teams could expect to find in the later rounds of a typical draft.
By limiting the number of undrafted free agents that teams can sign to a max bonus, Boston’s path to essentially buying extra draft picks hits a road block.
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Some players who normally would have been drafted but miss the cut in a shortened draft may decide to stay in school rather than accept one of the smaller bonuses. This depletes the talent pool and makes it more difficult for the Red Sox to find the diamonds in the rough they need to rebuild their farm system.
MLB’s latest proposal would not have benefited the Red Sox so it’s potentially good news that the MLBPA rejected the offer. Caving in by accepting a worse deal down the line would be a humiliating defeat for the players so even if the league plays hard ball, we should expect the next proposal to be a bit more player-friendly.
If it means that the draft will have more than 10 rounds then the pick Boston loses in the second round isn’t quite as valuable. A shorter draft wouldn’t be as much of a hindrance if MLB loosens the restrictions on undrafted players.
The two sides will eventually hash out an agreement before the draft, which is still expected to take place sometime next month. Keep an eye on the terms of this upcoming deal since the fallout will have ramifications on the future of the Red Sox.