Braves: MLB considering skipping 2020 draft

dmd191002010 tb at oak

As of late Thursday night, the current coronavirus pandemic surpassed the 230,000 mark in human infections worldwide, including roughly 10,000 total deaths and a whopping 4,000 new COVID-19 cases in the US in the last 24 hours alone.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid a mid-May MLB Opening Day is becoming more and more unrealistic with each passing day. But there seems to be another aspect of the 2020 MLB season that’s in serious jeopardy — the amatuer draft.

According to multiple sources on Thursday, the League is considering skipping the 2020 draft to help mitigate the financial damage from the suspended season, which in turn, would result in a 2020-21 combined draft next season. Here’s an excerpt from a CBS Sports report yesterday, quoting the Associated Press:

“Major League Baseball is considering skipping its amateur draft this year and putting off the next international signing period as a way to preserve cash while games are affected by the new coronavirus. While bonus rules for the draft and international players are part of the collective bargaining agreement, management could attempt to cite the national emergency as reason to make unilateral changes. With a Republican administration in Washington, the union would have a difficult path with a legal challenge before the National Labor Relations Board.”

I’m not sure there’s any precedent for this kind of proposal, so essentially MLB, the player’s union and of course the NCAA would be forced to construct this arrangement from total scratch, while the entire world is dealing with a virus pandemic that has most of the country shut down. Not exactly an ideal time to be making wide-ranging changes to a draft, eh?

From a financial standpoint, sure there seems to be a logical reason for MLB to feel concerned about the money lost while the sport remains idle, but logistically this just seems a bit overboard. Also, it’s not as if all 30 teams don’t already have a pretty good idea of what kind of talent is available in the 2020 class. If FanGraphs can have a BIG BOARD (yearly draft prospect rankings) two or sometimes three years in advance, you can’t tell me the Atlanta Braves don’t have that same data — they probably have even more. Teams have numerous reports on these players. Is it worth skipping the draft entirely?

Also, pulling off something like this — as I alluded to above — is going to take some incredible collaboration between the MLB and MLBPA — two parties that have consistently NOT agreed on much of anything. Plus, there’s the NCAA too, who will need to feel like they’re not getting fleeced, given that two classes of talent would be leaving the college ranks in 2021 (granted, the NCAA would also benefit from keeping this year’s class). 

Which leads us to next year. How does the league combine two drafts? How would the draft order work? 

According to Mike Axisa (CBS Sports), MLB spends roughly $400 million per year on draft bonuses, which equals a hair over $13 million per team on average. Yes, this is going to be a rough year and money will certainly be lost, but we’re talking about a drop in the bucket for an MLB organization. There will be so many different changes to the game this year… let’s not add another drastic one that’s unnecessary. 


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