Global Draft, Changes to Signing Pools, Qualifying Offers Part of Ten Point Draft Makeover
The key to any successful long term winning effort more than ever in today’s MLB depends on a quality player development program. Teams rely heavily on the domestic draft and international scouting to infuse the pipeline with young talent that will eventually play in the big leagues. As we all know, baseball has tried to level the playing field, with caps in place on how much a team spends internationally and within the domestic draft. Both procedures have their good and bad qualities and what follows is the New Deal plan to improve this process.
One of the big complaints is that the penalty for exceeding the international spending limits, the inability to sign players for more than 300 thousand dollars during the next 1 or 2 seasons has proven to be no deterrent. Teams that go over the amount are not impeded from spending huge sums of money once the limit has been exceeded, think of it as a credit limit of 5 thousand dollars to spend. Nothing exists to stop you from taking it to 10, 20, 50 thousand over the limit, other than your own budget. So if you can afford the large fee that comes with blowing through the limit, what good does the limit serve in the first place? The penalty for going over by 15% is no more severe than the penalty for going over by 150%. IN addition, teams can certainly load up on lower cost prospects and a team that hits on one player out of 10 signed for 300K each will still reap a true benefit even when the 300K contract caps are enforced for the following one or two seasons, because the international pools do not go away, just the size of how big your contract offers are to those prospects.
Second is the issue concerning the draft caps, the draft slots teams value much more greatly. They have not shown any willingness to blow through the draft budget for fear of losing a first round pick, even though teams will gladly give up that same pick for an aging free agent. These players in theory may offer more in terms of a known quality but less future upside, as opposed to over spending for more prospects who are unknown beyond their amateur ability, even if the ceiling is higher. The major problem with the system as many have documented, is the incentive to lose as much as possible. When only two or three teams take this approach, the reward is huge because the value of the top three picks is so much greater. IN 2015, the difference between pick #1 and pick #4 was around 3 million bucks, the difference between picks 5 and 20 was half that. So in a season like 2016 with the Reds, Brewers, Phillies, and Braves all clearly playing for the future, plus other weak teams like the Athletics, Rockies, and Padres in the running for those worst records, how well a team does may depend less on its luck of the draft order from 1-5, and more with how much money it can allocate to the obtaining of top talent. This was how the Astros, who had a huge hall of money due to a pair of top five picks, were able to get three players viewed as top 10 talents, by paying under slot value on two of them and then going well over the assigned value with their first pick in the second round.
I have many solutions that I believe MLB and the players should all consider as part of the next CBA to solve these issues. Before I go down the list of changes, lets first be clear on this point, one worldwide draft. OK, many will say it can’t happen, here is how it can. First, the Major League Baseball Players Association has by its own design not represented minor league or amateur players, so MLB is governed not by what MLBPA wants, but rather by the laws of the US and Canada with respect to employment and immigration of foreign players. Now with that out of the way, my 10 point plan that changes the MLB draft.
1, move the draft to the Wednesday through Friday during the week of the College World Series. The third and decisive game could be played on that Wednesday evening and prior to that game, the first round of the draft takes place. Rounds 2-20 would be on Thursday, 21-40 on Friday.
2, have regional draft combines to evaluate the health of players. Offer 10 of them around the US, including one in Hawaii. Offer three in Canada, one each in Mexico, Japan, Australia, two in Europe, and one in South Africa. Participation would not be mandatory but MLB should take a page from the NFL so that Brady Aiken 2.0 can be easier to avoid.
3, With one combined draft, the pools for international and domestic players would be combined into one and teams would be able to spend more freely on who they believe is the best player. The pools would be less extreme in the difference of total dollars, the average combined international and domestic draft pools for top 10 picks in 2015 was just over 10,270,000, with over 70% of this focused on the domestic draft. However, the Astros had over 17 million in the draft pool, the Mets had less than 4 million, while international allotments ranged from just under 2 million for the Nationals and Angels, to over 5 million for the Diamondbacks. Rather than have a slot value system that starts very steep in its decline before leveling off, the slope down the curve if you will should be more gradual. I would propose a pool of 12 million for the worst team, 8 million for the best team, even if first round picks are lost. This would encourage teams to spend more in the free agent market, as they would lose just draft picks, not money with which to also sign them when dealing with those players tied to qualifying offers. Teams that went over their draft pool would face the loss of future draft picks which would be awarded via lottery to other teams. the best team in terms of win-loss record that did not qualify for postseason would have the best lottery odds for this type of pick, with odds decreasing as win percentage decreased. The key here is the overall draft pool, not the assigned slot value, so a team with a pool of 12 million could in affect spend 10 million on its first pick if it so chose. But if that team went over its pool by a single dollar up to 2.5%, it would lose a second round pick in the next draft. Go over from 2.5 to 5.0%, it would lose an additional first round pick, again those picks then going into a lottery as just described. Going over from 5 to 10% would result in the loss of picks in both the first and second round in the next two drafts, and going more than 10% over the pool would result in the loss of first through third round picks in the next two drafts.
4, change the draft eligibility rules so that they are uniform. If a player goes to a junior college, he must complete 2 years of schooling before being able to appear again in the draft, players who go to a four-year university maintain the current rules, accept they apply in a uniform manner to all colleges and universities in the united States or Canada, with the player having to complete three years of college eligibility, or be 21 on June 1 the year of the draft. For all players from any corner of the globe not in college, they must have completed high school or received an equivalent diploma, or turned age 18 by June 1 the year of the draft. Players not graduating high school must be 18 by June 1 to be draft eligible, those graduating high school or receiving the equivalent diploma can be drafted no younger than age 17, with the 17th birthday no later than June 1 of that year’s draft.
5, Drafting players from nations with pro leagues, Japan, Cuba, south Korea as examples. Any player not from the United States or Canada who has a proof of current contract to a foreign league can be drafted by an MLB team and his draft rights maintained until age 28. A 19 year old player from japan would thus have his MLB draft rights held by an organization until age 28, with those rights expiring on the 28th birthday of the player. The players MLB salary would be structured like that of other MLB players, accept that if he does not come to an MLB team until age 25 or later, his first year salary would be based on the average of all players his age on opening day rosters from the previous season. This formula would govern the first three years of salary with standard arbitration and other rules taking effect as normally scheduled for all MLB players. MLB teams would be allowed to buy out the contract of the player from the foreign league, while paying a posting or transfer fee to the foreign league or team. Foreign players who were not under contract to another pro league at the time of the draft would have their MLB draft rights held until age 24. After the 24th birthday, the player if not part of an existing foreign professional league would be an undrafted free agent who would be free to sign with the team of his choosing but only for the MLB minimum taking a 40-man roster spot, or to a minor league contract with the signing bonus then counted against the draft pool for the year in which the player is signed. Players age 28 or older signing as free agents would be treated like MLB free agents, in that they would be signed for however much the club feels the player is worth, accept the contract would be no longer than 6 years in length and players age 28 or older could not sign to contracts from the minor leagues and draft bonus pools. Players returning from MLB to their foreign league would have their MLB contract bought out by the foreign league in question and they would have to wait one calendar year before returning to an MLB roster.
6, Trading draft picks and draft rights. Teams who owned draft rights to an international player outside the United States and Canada would be able to trade those rights like any other future draft pick to another organization as part of a trade to obtain MLB talent. Draft picks and draft rights to international players could not be used as a player to be named later and they could not be offered in a deal involving only players not on a 40-man roster. A team trading such a pick must be receiving at least one player on another teams 40-man roster. If three or more teams are involved, the player rights or draft picks being sent away do not have to go to the same team that is the source for the obtained player to meet the 40-man roster requirement. Lastly, teams could trade no more than the rights to three picks from any single draft that they have obtained, even if additional picks were granted through lottery, compensation or trades. Example, Nationals trade draft rights to the Brewers, Nationals must get a player from the 40-man roster of the Brewers or from another organization if a third team, such as the mariners were involved.
7, Qualifying offers and compensation picks would change. The qualifying offer would be the average of the top 100 salaries among all players in MLB and the qualifying offer would be good for a two-year contract if accepted by the player. Compensation for qualifying offers would be modified, so that the first four players signed would result in the loss of a second round pick, all others would result in the loss of a third round pick. All first round picks would be protected going forward.
8, The order of draft picks would change so that the top 20 teams who did not make the playoffs would draft in the inverse order of their win-loss record from the previous MLB season. Picks 21-22 would go to the two teams who lose the wild Card game in inverse order of win-loss record. Using a similar formula, picks 23-26 would go to the four losers of the division series, picks 27-28 to the two losers of the League Championship Series, pick 29 to the World Series loser and pick 30 to the World Series winner.
9, Draft pool totals. The worst team would be allotted a total draft pool of 12,000,000, the best team would be awarded 8 million. The difference from positions 1-6 would be a drop of 200K per slot with the 6th position in terms of pool rankings worth 11 million. After position 6, starting with the 7th through 30th positions, the drop would be 125K per placement, so that the 7th position would be worth a pool of 10.875 million and the 14th position worth 10 million. Positions 15-22 would be from 9.875 to 9 million, while positions 23-30 would range from 8.875 to 8 million in terms of the total draft pool value. A draft pool lottery could also be put in place for pool positions 1-14, so that the worst team is not guaranteed the top pool of 12 million but it is guaranteed a pool of at least 10 million. If MLB expanded to 32 teams, the slope downward in pool totals would be slightly adjusted for picks 15-32.
10, additional picks. Two rounds of six draft picks each, one between rounds 1-2 and one between rounds 2-3 would be held. The first round would be for teams that missed the playoffs for each of the previous two seasons, with the order of draft picks based on best to worst combined overall winning percentage, think of it as a way to reward teams who tried and missed out rather than tanking on purpose. So based on 2014-2015, the Mariners, Twins, White Sox, Indians, Red Sox, Rays, Padres, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Reds, Brewers, Phillies, Marlins and Braves would be in the running for those picks. The second set of six picks would be based on the current MLB competitive balance lottery.
IN conclusion, I believe that one combined draft is the way to go forward, with many changes needed both in terms of how bonus pools and compensation are dealt with. I believe that current players are being harmed by the system as teams don’t want to lose the ability to obtain current amateurs by losing highly valued draft picks and the dollars tied to them. It removes the incentive for thugs to smuggle players like they were cocaine in return for huge sums of the players professional contract. It rewards teams who scout well in all corners of the globe and it does not guarantee teams that lose on purpose will obtain the best drafting slots. I’m not Tony Clark or Rob Manfred, but maybe this serves as a blueprint for what a future MLB draft looks like.
- Posted on February 25, 2016 at 1:57 pm
- 1 Comment
- Tags: Amateur Draft, Draft Lottery, Draft Slot Values, Free Agent Compensation, International Bonus Pools, International Draft, International Draft Rights, International signings, Korea Baseball Organization, Major League Baseball, Nippon Professional Baseball, Qualifying Offers, Serie Nacional, Smuggling, Tanking, Trading Draft Picks