Report: MLBPA rejects MLB's 2020 draft proposal

Chris Cwik
·3-min read

The 2020 NFL draft operated mostly as normal despite the coronavirus pandemic. That won’t be the case over in Major League Baseball, though.

The 2020 MLB draft is already going to be drastically different as a result of the coronavirus. In March, the league and the MLB Players Association agreed to a deal that would cut the draft to no fewer than five rounds.

The league pushed for that proposal as a cost-cutting measure. With the coronavirus shutdown affecting revenue, the league didn’t want to spend additional money on amateur players.

While the five-round minimum is in place, there are still other issues the league and the players need to work out regarding the draft. The two reportedly discussed a proposal Thursday, but the players rejected it, according to Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Under that proposal, the 2020 MLB draft would last 10 rounds, according to the report.

The league offered to split the draft into two portions. Picks in rounds 1-5 would have slot values equivalent to the same picks in 2019. Picks in rounds 6-10 would have 50 percent of those values, and for those picks, there would be a hard cap on the signing bonus at slot value.

The league also proposed a limit of five undrafted players at $20,000 — the maximum bonus such a player can receive — and an unlimited number on players at $5,000 or below.

The players are hesitant to accept that deal. They want the draft to last as long as possible so more players can gain entry into the sport, according to the report.

Some teams are reportedly on board with that idea, according to Drellich and Rosenthal. Minor-league players come at such low costs and can make such a big impact on a franchise that some teams are in favor of accumulating as many minor leaguers as possible.

That March agreement looms large, though. By agreeing to a five-round minimum the players may have limited their bargaining ability, according to the report.

The league’s leverage in these negotiations is the threat of reducing the number of rounds in the draft. The league’s message moving forward may be: Take 10 rounds, with restrictions, or else the draft will be shorter. Teams can cite their stymied cash flow amidst the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to draft fewer rounds this year.

But the players don’t want to add rounds of the draft if it comes at such a perceived high cost in other ways.

The two sides don’t have much longer to come to an agreement. The 2020 MLB draft is still slated to be held in June, giving MLB and the MLBPA a month to iron out the finer details of the event.

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