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@MelissaSeguraSI Source: New MLB CBA said to include a hard cap and a floor for international signings. Unclear when it would go into effect.
Obviously, the details are a little light now. If the floor is low enough and the cap is high enough, this might be very little different from the status quo. But considering that some numbers in the $2.5 million range for the hard cap were floated around last week, I think we can all assume that a weak cap is unlikely.
I can’t imagine a worse system – both for the Yankees, and for the MLB. Right now, many clubs do not choose to participate in the international free agent system with any real effort. A floor would force these clubs to spend money internationally, even if they do not want to. Let’s hope its a tiny floor. A cap, especially a low one, would also create huge complications. The Yankees would go out and try to sign the top IFA out there every year – and they probably would. But they wouldn’t have much room to sign even one or two Robinson Cano’s after that.
Other clubs would be met with the same decision. Instead of signing dozens of players for five-figure bonuses every season, they’ll sign just a few while focusing on the big names. Teams have already shown a willingness to pay $3-5 million for top prospects, so it’s not like competition is going to be weak for top players. A few opportunistic clubs may hold back and sign a bunch of smaller-dollar guys instead of jumping toward the big guys, but I’m not sure how much of a winning strategy that will be. We’re still talking about 16-year olds here.
Who else loses out? The players in Latin America. Teams these days sign tons and tons of players to fill out their academies and affiliate teams. Latin American players benefit immensely from this. Occasionally, one or two of those players becomes a real prospect or star. They are going to count against the cap now. That means that fewer players will be signed, as teams gravitate toward the big money, more prospect-y players.
Look, I think that the best talent should be allocated to the worst teams when we’re looking at prospects. That’s how the draft is designed. I’ve stated before that I don’t have much of a problem with a properly-executed international draft. But this is really the worst way to do it, and far worse than the status quo. This all ends up pointing to less talent heading into the major leagues, as the next Albert Pujols or Mariano Rivera goes undiscovered amidst a hard-capped budget. It also means less exposure for MLB teams in Latin America, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see significant downsizing in the Dominican Summer League. What’s the better way to do it? I’d have no trouble with an IFA Luxury tax, applied either in the aggregate or to individual contracts, in order to allow teams who want to expend the resources and go find the talent to do so. I’d also have no trouble with a very high hard cap designed to limit only the bigest spenders. But something around $2.5 million? Horrible idea.
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