Late on Thursday night Ken Rosenthan and Evan Drelich of The Athletic reported that Major League Baseball took a new proposal to the Major League Players association to expand the draft from five rounds in 2020 to ten rounds in 2020. Sounds great, right? Not so much, as the devil was in the details and the players association turned down the offer.
Why would they do that? Well, as mentioned, it’s all about what is in the details. While both sides have already agreed to terms for a 5-round draft this year, with signing bonuses set at 2019 levels (instead of the 2020 levels which were supposed to rise by the same amount as revenues from the year prior). The latest proposal would keep that in line, but rounds 6-10 would only have kept 50% of their 2019 values and wouldn’t apply to a “draft bonus pool”, but each pick would be hard capped at the new slot value. There was also a limit on how many undrafted players could receive the maximum $20,000 signing bonus – which would only be available to five players per organization.
The players association turned the offer down. That honestly came as a bit of a surprise to me. Perhaps it was something as simple as the offer didn’t include anything at all for the players in the players association – they don’t represent the minor leaguers that aren’t on the 40-man roster, nor do they represent amateur players.
This may simply be a negotiating thing for the players association. While it certainly seems like both sides agreed to a pay scale for a season in 2020 whether it’s played or not played back in March, the owners recently have decided that isn’t what happened and that they will be asking the players to take a pay cut beyond a pro-rated salary based on games played if the games will be played with no fans in the stands. The draft concessions being given further to the owners could be negotiated towards getting the players something more in terms of salary negotiations, or potential 2020 roster spots for a shortened season.
But maybe the players association actually wants to protect the top of the draft a little bit. If they give in to severely limiting rounds 6-10, it’s going to be tougher to push back on that one later. This feels a little less likely given how we’ve watched the players association sell out amateurs in both the domestic and international markets over the last decade as much as they possibly could, though.
The MLBPA, as well as Major League Baseball can both take new offers for the draft and how it works to the other side at any time. They will both need to agree on any changes. For now, it seems that we’re still looking at a draft that will only include five rounds.