Worldwide Draft

I missed this the other day, but in light of the problems in the Dominican, the chatter about a potential worldwide draft is increasing:

Recent cases of fraud and potential corruption involving the signing of baseball players in Latin America have cast new attention to the possibility of a worldwide draft in major league baseball.

Increasingly, there is a call for baseball and its union to adopt an international draft in the next collective bargaining agreement in 2012 as a way to streamline and clean up the way players from outside North America are acquired, particularly in talent-rich places like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Moreover, supporters say a draft would provide an equal playing field among teams that recruit in Latin America.

And there certainly are problems down there and in other countries not subject to the draft. It’s worth noting, however, that apart from addressing the kickbacks and other unseemliness, the powers that be in baseball have another, less-noble incentive to institute a draft, and that’s to scale back the bonuses Dominican free agents have been getting in recent years. There’s no escaping the fact that an international draft would work to lower salaries. And maybe that’s worth doing if it does other good things. But in light of this obvious effect, you’d think that the writer would have asked someone from the union for a quote or two.

(thanks, as always, to Pete Toms for the link)

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  1. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    The only way the draft will lower salaries is if there is a fixed salary structure for draft picks, not the “suggestions” that has been oft-maligned and oft-ignored by many teams.

  2. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Maybe that’s true for a dramatic lowering of salaries, Jason, but there has to be at least some downward pressure even if there isn’t enforced slotting, right?

  3. Andy said...

    How would a draft work for Japanese players?  Aren’t they controlled by the Japanese league initially?

  4. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    Honestly, Craig, I don’t.  You could have made that argument about free agents this off-season, in the face of a New Depression.  But, there were teams (Yanks, looking squarely at you) that either aren’t feeling the same pinch or chose to ignore that pinch.

    Don’t you think that the most elite amateur talent, regardless of their origination, will hold out for the highest prices?  Until there is a slotting system that is fixed and non-negotiatable, the draft won’t be purely based on talent-first picks.  If there is no enforcement (ie: hard cap) on salaries—total payroll OR amateur drafts—there will be teams that will go over and above what would otherwise be the norm or expected or suggested.

    Amateurs will continue to hire Boras and he will make sure that those players secure ever-higher signing bonuses, unless there is a fixed slotting system.

  5. Chris H. said...

    Well in general I tend to fall on the side of things that don’t limit player salaries, because (A) I’m not a fan of wealth transfers to owners, and (B) I much prefer a free-market kind of system anyway.

    Thing is, in addition to the US-versus-the-rest-of-the-world system that we currently have, the Cuban situation makes it more of a mess.  Cuban players can’t be signed directly, of course, and if they defect then they technically have to enter the draft.  Which is crazy.

    It needs to be all-or-nothing.  And frankly, I agree with Jason: the draft really won’t hold things down because the current signing bonuses paid to Dominican, etc. players will just become draft signing bonuses.

    I say just get rid of the silly thing altogether.

  6. The Common Man said...

    It would seem to me that a greater supply of players available for the draft would probably lead to smaller bonuses, but given that teams and players aren’t haggling over salaries in a free market, perhaps there are effects I am not considering.

    I’m interested in what happens to the baseball academies sponsored by MLB teams.  Do they become sponsored by the league in general?  Cut loose?  Do teams maintain their sponsorship to have the inside track on scouting (i.e. do the camps become even more proprietory than they are now How does one sort that many kids?

  7. Pete Toms said...

    I’ll be shocked if the draft isn’t expanded.  And Craig is correct, it is all about the soaring bonuse being paid out the past couple years to Dominican players.  The same with the bonus skimming, it’s not the principle, it is that the amount of money going around is a lot bigger.

    I’m with Jason, sans enforced “slotting” the draft will not curtail costs.  Having said that, I will be surprised if the expanded draft does not include such.  Many, including Jimmie Lee Solomon, are on the record that the Rule IV as in its present form is inflationary. 

    TCM, I’ve wondered the same about the academies.  I question if clubs will continue to make the same investments in young players.  Why sink money into a kid who might be drafted by a competitor?  On that theme, many think the expansion of the draft into Puerto Rico had a negative impact on baseball there. 

    Anyway, hope this doesn’t piss off Craig, but I rambled on and on about this earlier this winter.

  8. Maury Brown said...

    Lemke interviewed me for this piece, but as it can often be the case, you hit the cutting room floor (hey, Manfred, Kasten, and Phillips will trump me every time).

    In terms of the corruption, I’m sure a WW draft would help, but I’m not sure that all issues would be eradicated.

    The WW draft, I believe, will help lower revenue making clubs, not necessarily in Latin America, but in more exotic locations like the Far East, or other locations where the ability to scout becomes more expensive.

    As I said to Lemke, when there are large ticket items that come to the surface as part of collective bargaining (e.g. salary cap), the WW draft could edge itself in as a concession by the PA.

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