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Monday, June 08, 2009
“Abolish the draft”Pinto tears FOX's Michael Rosenberg a new one over the latter's half-assed draft column, and then invokes the nuclear option:
Abolish the draft, and let these amateurs sign for what the market will bear. Then we can stop having these idiotic discussions about what’s wrong with the draft. The draft is just wrong, period.
I haven't thought through all of the implications of such a thing in this day and age (given all of the changes to the baseball labor market, the example of the pre-draft system is probably of little utility), but as I sit here right now, I can't see how it would create any more problems than any of the draft "solutions" people have suggested. Sure it's radical, but only in immediate effect, not long term implications. At least I don't think so, anyway.
David is throwing it out there for us. Let's run with it. And please, try to think harder than "the Yankees would just buy all of the good players." That doesn't happen now with international signings, and they haven't raised a big Tigers-with-Porcello ruckus in the amateur draft.
Educate me, people: what would be the pros and cons of just chucking this system and going all free-agent?
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 4:04pm
According to KLaw, whether he moved there or not he’d still be subject to the draft since he’s still an american citizen. Now if he wanted to renounce that and become a citizen of another country, that’s a different matter. However, I’m sure we’d all agree that it’s not exactly the brightest move.
Unfortunately far far more of the drafted players aren’t the ones making the $4-$8M contracts but are living at or around the poverty line. Remember that this isn’t the NBA draft with only two rounds. There are hundreds of players who make the same if not less than most of us on this board who have to make sacrifices in their lives to continue persuing(sp?) their dreams. The Strasburg’s/Ackley’s/Priors/etc will get their money regardless of what is done, it’s all these other people who could be screwed by the abolishment of the draft.
It can be even worse if he’s representing one player like Strasburg who’s going way over slot and another player who’s willing to accept slot money. How can he say he’s representing each one’s best interest if a team is interested in both of them?
Posted 06/09 at 02:34 PM
“Anyway, my premise is that if you want to change the fact that baseball is a closed system that has collectively bargained the way these things work, you have to open it all the way, right? And that leads down the proverbial slippery slope.”
Nobody is arguing that baseball should blow up the entire collective bargaining agreement. Just that it makes some sense to at least consider getting rid of the draft.
Posted 06/09 at 02:37 PM
“But Boras threatened to do it (or at least dropped hints that he was willing to do it) and either it was a bluff (borderline ethics)”
How the is a bluff borderline unethical? It’s a negotiation. EVERY agent should bluff for the benefit of their client.
And a large part of the blame for the Alvarez situation should fall on the Pirates, who failed to submit a contract by the deadline.
You haven’t given a single example of unethical behavior by Boras.
Posted 06/09 at 02:44 PM
As I’ve argued elsewhere, a “free market” draft is an awful idea without having an actual free market for it to exist in. MLB (and other American-style major sports leagues) can’t be “free markets” due to their severely limited nature.
What the “free market” argument would actually need to succeed is a clear path to success for good teams and a clear path to failure for bad teams - basically, an FA-style relegation/promotion system.
If the Nats suck repeatedly, they should not be playing other MLB teams. Put them in a league where a lower bankroll can still keep them competitive. If they can finish at the top of the International League next year, let them replace the Diamondbacks or O’s next year after those teams are relegated.
When people argue for a “free market,” this is the only way to truly sustain it. Unfortunately, it would never sell to the mid-level and poor teams, who want to keep splitting the largest pie possible, or needless to say, to the cities and states who have built expensive ballparks to remain a “major-league city.”
No, a closed market like MLB requires equity so that all teams have a fighting chance. A truly free market would allow its failing businesses to be eliminated as necessary.
Posted 06/09 at 03:13 PM
w/r/t Boras, Not sure that he’s done anything unethical draftwise, but in his other work he has created enough fictional bidders for his free-agent clients to drive the price up that I’m surprised he hasn’t been investigated.
Posted 06/09 at 03:19 PM
For the draft, there’s the Luke Hochevar mess:
Taken from wikipedia:
“The Dodgers would select Hochevar again, this time in the first round (6th overall) of the 2005 draft. After heated, desperate negotiations between the Dodgers, Hochevar, and his agent Scott Boras, Hochevar suddenly switched agents to Matt Sosnick, accepted a $2.98 million signing bonus from scouting director Logan White, then returned to Boras the next day and reneged on the deal. Several months of lukewarm talks continued with Hochevar pitching in an independent league (where he struck out 34 batters in 22.2 innings), but amidst much bitterness, the two sides never came close to reaching a new agreement.”
Something happened there.
Posted 06/09 at 03:47 PM
From the same Wiki page:
“[Hochevar] re-entered the draft again in 2006…[and] signed a four-year major league contract worth $5.3 million guaranteed with the Royals. He received a $3.5 million signing bonus with the ability to earn as much as $7 million over the four years.”
Looks like Boras got him a much better deal in 06.
Posted 06/09 at 03:54 PM
It also cost him a year of service time, and the bonus was only $3.5 million. So by holding him out, Boras guaranteed him only $500,000 when the rookie minimum at that time was $370,000.
Posted 06/09 at 03:57 PM
Only if you assume:
1 - The Dodger’s offer was a big league deal containing as much guaranteed money ($5.3m) instead of a minor league deal with only the bonus ($2.98m) guaranteed.
2 - That he would have then been ready to pitch in the majors a year earlier.
Posted 06/09 at 04:13 PM
Jason: Good Points.
Still, a deal was agreed upon, and suddenly squashed due to Boras’ interference. It was an ethically murky situation for Boras.
Posted 06/09 at 04:29 PM
And a Baseball America article on the whole ordeal if you want details. What is it with Boras not making a counter offer?
Posted 06/09 at 04:37 PM
Jason - I’m not going to go through all of the questionable tactics Boras uses to get his clients more money. You can sort through Craig’s posts and find plenty of examples. Fabricating offers, making ridiculous claims about his client’s talent that border on fabrication, attempting to renege on deals (why did he fight Alvarez’s deal but didn’t say anything about Hosmer’s, which was submitted after the deadline as well?).
If you’re not willing to even except the premise that a lot of Boras’s dealings are shady, then obviously you wouldn’t mind him representing your son. I recognize that the man uses whatever tactics he can legally get away with to obtain more money for his clients. I would not want that for my son. If the Harpers were unwilling to move to the Dominican, then it becomes a lie, not a bluff. I have no idea whether they were or not, but there’s a good chance that it was a lot closer to a lie than not. The extra money earned would not be worth having to submit to his methods, results be damned.
Posted 06/09 at 04:53 PM
I don’t think we can blame Boras for that mess. The Dodgers offer was low, evidenced by the fact that Hochevar was able to get over $2.5 million more guaranteed the next year.
The details surrounding the agent switching do sound “ethically murky,” but again, how can we blame Boras more than Sosnick, White, or Hochevar himself? We really don’t know what happened.
Posted 06/09 at 04:54 PM
@Daniel - I’m not saying the guy’s never made a mistake(see: Varitek.arbitration.2008), but come on, bluffing is lying. If Harper was really willing to move to the Dominican, it wouldn’t be a bluff.
Boras is damn good at his job and has quite a reputation. Any player that signs on with him should know exactly what they are getting by now.
Posted 06/09 at 05:04 PM
“Unfortunately far far more of the drafted players aren’t the ones making the $4-$8M contracts but are living at or around the poverty line. Remember that this isn’t the NBA draft with only two rounds. There are hundreds of players who make the same if not less than most of us on this board who have to make sacrifices in their lives to continue persuing(sp?) their dreams. The Strasburg’s/Ackley’s/Priors/etc will get their money regardless of what is done, it’s all these other people who could be screwed by the abolishment of the draft.”
I agree. Abolishing the draft would help the guys getting paid millions to get paid millions more. Fine. But what about the 8th rounders? Or the 15th rounders? If more money went to 1st and 2nd rounders, then costs have to be cut elsewhere. Some of that might be major league free agents but some of that will also be lower round draftees. And then we might miss out entirely on some guys who are haven’t completely matured yet and so are considered marginal prospects.
My main point is one that has been echoed by others in this thread - baseball does not operate as other free market industries. If you want to abolish the draft within the system under which baseball currently operates, then you have to give the owners some other concession, and you can bet your butt that it would have to be a LARGE concession. If you want to do away with the current structure of major league baseball entirely (wherein 30 owners and their chosen representatives decide how to run the sport), then you have to open it up to everything. Collective bargaining out the window. Teams folding because of losses. Billionaires trying to start new teams and join the league. No revenue sharing. It could go on and on. It’s impossible to have it both ways.
Posted 06/09 at 05:07 PM
Boras is only damn good at his job if you don’t care about the tactics he uses to represent you. I wouldn’t want a man who’s willing to stoop to the levels that he does representing me or my family in anything.
Posted 06/09 at 05:10 PM
Daniel, teams use similar tactics in negotiations. They deceive, bluff, and fight for every dollar. If you don’t have an agent that is willing to do the same (and all agents do it, Boras is just the best), you’ll end up getting screwed.
Posted 06/09 at 05:25 PM
That’s a pretty broad generalization that has absolutely no underlying evidence. Do teams try to get advantages? Of course. But does an agent have to resort to fabrications, bluffing, and extreme exaggeration in order to get a fair deal? I think you’d be hardpressed to prove that. Not every agent is as ruthless as Boras. And yet Boras isn’t the only good agent.
In other words, the subset of agents who are good does not equal the subset of agents who use questionable ethics in negotiations. Sure, there’s a lot of overlap, but not completely.
Posted 06/09 at 07:28 PM
Whatever, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what he does. You obviously do.
...but if I were to get drafted, knowing how long the odds are that I will have a long and prosperous MLB career, I’d want the most ruthless MF’er I could find negotiating what is probably my one large payday.
Posted 06/09 at 08:30 PM