From Buster Olney:
The premise that guided the talks is that the draft is the best and easiest manner in which baseball can address the widening financial disparity between The Haves and The Have Nots. And the focus is on some kind of a slotting system, which would enable the worst teams to have access to the best players. In recent years, some of the worst teams have passed on the best amateur players in the draft because they believed they couldn’t sign the player. This is how Rick Porcello slid to the Tigers at the end of the first round in 2007.
And there is a strong belief on the side of management that a slotting system can be completed, because the union will embrace the idea — so long as the Players Association is guaranteed, in some fashion, that more money will be spent on major league players. How this happens remains to be seen, but there are agents convinced that the interests of the draft-eligible traded will be swapped out for the interests of the union veterans.
A slotting system would make sense, in that it would theoretically help eliminate the entire concept of “signability” from the draft. The problem is that with a slotting system, clubs will likely want to be allowed to trade draft picks, so as to be able to extract value from a pick even if they feel that they cannot afford to pay the player slot money. Once picks are tradeable, you may end up with a similar situation to the signability epidemic, where agents like Scott Boras will be directing their players to particular teams. Although there will be slotting rules, agents may attempt to force their players to richer teams that can offer them more money later, during their arbitration years. Essentially, the system would go through an overhaul only to find itself back where it started almost immediately.
There was one other solution proposed:
There is talk about structuring draft budget according to the place of finish. So, for example (and to be clear, these numbers are my own hypothetical), the worst team would have $10 million, the second-worst team would have $975,000, the third-worst $950,000, etc. This way, the big-market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox wouldn’t be in position to overpay middle-round picks, as Boston did to lure Ryan Westmoreland away from Vanderbilt.
Buster’s numbers are clearly mistaken, but the idea does have some merit. If instituted along with a slotting system and the ability to trade draft picks, this might preclude the problem I discussed above. Better teams would have a limited draft budget, so trading for high draft picks would be a difficult decision that would limit their ability to have a deep draft class. Most trades would occur between the bad teams, ensuring that high quality talent went towards competitive balance, but better teams would still have the opportunity to weigh their options and get involved in deals for upper level talent.
As a Yankee fan, I wish they would leave things as they are, or at least institute the trading of picks so that teams can get something of value in signability cases. However, as a fan of the sport, it is fairly clear that the draft is broken, and something needs to be done to fix it. What do you think should be done?
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