Less than an hour after I published my case for holding the 2020 Draft, ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel has reported that Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Assocation have agreed to the framework to holding the draft this year. The agreement could be finalized as early as tonight under these terms:
- Draft to be postponed until July
- As few as 5-10 rounds
- Bonus payment schedule: 10% upfront, 45% in July 2021, 45% in July 2022
- Undrafted player bonus cap of $10,000
If the entire report is true, that heavily affects college upperclassmen who have less leverage to sign higher signing bonuses. This won’t affect the players who were already likely to go Day 1 (i.e. Spencer Torkelson, Asa Lacey, etc.), unless the bonus pools significantly shrink. High school players, Junior College players, and draft-eligible sophomores have more leverage to avoid signing and rolling the dice in a future draft. The potential domino effect could be that teams end up going heavy on college players, since they’ll be easier to sign out of the draft.
Unfortunately this is another case where the union isn’t inclined to help future members try to earn more money. MLB clubs are going to be loathe to commit a lot of money in a situation where revenue is drying up as a result of no games being played and the union caved on that issue. If the signing bonus system from the current CBA is still mostly intact, I don’t think it will have too much of an impact on how teams attack the draft.
What we’ll end up seeing is some of the top high school players deciding to honor their commitment to playing in college ball, which will add to the depth of the 2023 draft. Some players may go the Junior College route and try to re-enter the draft next year, but the bulk of high school talents will end up playing at a Division-I school. In the collegiate ranks, draft-eligible sophomores and juniors would have the option to return to school, although the latter demographic is much more likely to sign if taken in the Top 10 rounds.
The more interesting case will be how MLB and the PA come up with an agreement for future drafts once baseball resumes once again. I’m all for shrinking the draft from 40 to 20 rounds, since most players in the final 20 rounds are either longshot high school guys who are going to college or minor league filler types. Very few players selected that late will go on and reach the majors, although the Diamondbacks have three players on their current 40-man roster who were selected after the 20th round in their most recent draft (Kevin Ginkel, Riley Smith, and Andy Young, who were all drafted in 2016).