MLB, MLBPA fail to agree on international draft: Why it matters

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) were unable to agree on a framework for an international draft today, missing a deadline they had imposed on themselves.

The MLBPA announced its decision to reject MLB’s latest offer by Monday’s midnight EDT deadline for a deal, the time specified in the March 10 lockout settlement. Since MLB had announced that this was their final offer, the matter is now closed.

“Each of our proposals focused on protecting against the scenario all players fear most – the erosion of our game on the world stage, with international players becoming the latest victim of baseball’s focus on efficiency. rather than fundamental fairness,” the union said in a statement. “The league’s responses fell far short of anything the players could consider a fair deal.”

So the obvious question is, why should the average baseball fan care?

Why should baseball fans care?

The inability to reach an agreement means baseball will maintain a qualifying offer system for free agents until at least 2026.

Under this system, a team can make a qualifying offer after the World Series to a free agent who has been on the team since opening day. The contract offered is a one-year contract for the average of the top 125 transactions by average annual value. Last year’s figure was $18.4 million.

If a player rejects a qualifying offer and signs elsewhere, the team they sign with is subject to a loss of one or two amateur draft picks and a reduction in the allocation of the international signing bonus pool.

Players have criticized this system arguing that their market for free agents has shrunk because some teams were unwilling to sign them and give up this type of compensation.

The salary of the one-year deal is not the main concern, but the players have argued that these offers are made to delay their free agency and limit their market, forcing them to play for a team that cannot , or probably doesn’t want to, sign them. to a long-term deal at the value they expect.

MLB players don’t have their first free agency until they’ve reached six years of MLB service, which is later than any other major sport. This means players are not able to negotiate their first contract until they are already six years into their professional career.

Many players feel that this only reinforces the exaggerated control that MLB franchises have over players. They also believe that manipulating their free agency and delaying their ability to sign a long-term deal for another year has major ramifications on long-term financial stability if the player gets injured or has a tough year.

While this hasn’t impacted top free agents, like Trea Turner and Aaron Judge, who will be free agents next year, the tier just below has been hit the hardest. For example, Craig Kimbrel delayed signing in 2019 until June, when the draft selection compensation was no longer attached to him.

How does an international project relate to this?

While the players were not opposed to an international draft, they had agreed that scrapping the qualifying offer would be part of the deal to agree an international draft.

An amateur draft was established for residents of the United States and Canada in 1965 and expanded to residents of U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico in 1990. MLB lobbied for a similar international amateur draft, claiming that a portion of its justification was to fight against illicit agreements made. before players are age eligible – 16 or 15 if the player turns 16 later in the signing period. It was something Athleticismby Ken Rosenthal and Maria Torres reported in an in-depth story in January.

However, the MLBPA rejected the idea that a draft would solve these problems. As MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said, “These challenges are largely associated with those who cut checks. In other words, it takes individuals engaging in the corruption that we see for that corruption to happen. What I said, and what this organization said, is that what we see internationally is not so much a system problem as it is a people problem. And so, whether there’s a draft or there isn’t, there will still be issues that need to be addressed. »

Evan Drellich of The Athletic added, “Even if an international project effectively mitigated one problem, questions about how a project would address other problems abound. International fans often pay a large percentage of their signing bonuses to coaches and other managers. It remains unclear how a draft would have kept more money in players’ pockets, in addition to the overall increase in the pool of money available to international fans.

So, for now, international prospects will still be able to sign with the team of their choice. While all teams receive competitive amounts of money to sign international prospects, some organizations choose to use that money in trades rather than spending it. As a result, the international free agent market is not always fair and the big teams always held an advantage.

However, just because a deal hasn’t been done now doesn’t mean it never will.

“There’s no doubt there can continue to be a dialogue,” Clark said. “And what is fascinating is that if there is no agreement to be reached on an international project, we made a proposal during the negotiation which did not include an international project, which was focused on anti-corruption. … There hasn’t been as much interest in having this conversation so far, it’s just been rough, rough, rough without much focus on the other things that might otherwise be done But in case we can’t find common ground, we’re ready to have a conversation about how to approach these things.

For more MLB coverage like this international draft article, visit amNY Sports

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