Saturday, February 5, 2011

Draft Changes: Weekend Open Thread

The power is finally back on, now just have to clean up a flooded basement and do a thousand loads of laundry. And they are forecasting 7 inches of additional snow by Sunday morning. But I promised a weekend open thread, so here it is. Also, sorry for so few posts this week, hope you understand why.

As always, I'll start: We love to talk about the June draft around here, and apparently many of you do too. With the collective bargaining agreement between the teams and the union set to expire after this season there has been a great deal of speculation that the new CBA will include many changes to the draft. Some of the ideas floating around include allowing teams to trade picks, making it a world-wide draft (currently only US, Canadian, and Puerto Rican players are eligible), and hard-slotting for bonuses (if you're picked #x you get $y).

What do you think about these three ideas, particularly from the Rays smaller-market point of view? Are there any other changes you would like to see made, for instance a lottery system for the top 10 ten picks like in the NBA, so that the team with the worst record isn't guaranteed the #1 overall pick? Also feel free to post any questions you may have about the draft process.

Have fun, and stay warm!


  1. To follow up on last weekend's open thread, not much progress on the podcast due to the weather. Do wish to thank Steve Slowinski of DRB for sending along some great tips. We'll keep working on it.

    And thanks to Homein22 for sending me some info on Hak-Ju Lee he translated from Korean sources. I'm just now going through it all and trying to see if figure out the Korean->English translation well enough to post it. Thanks Homein22.

  2. Normally I love looking at mock drafts, but we may not see too many of the Rays picks in these drafts because few do the supplemental round. So I'll just have to look up some of the guys in the later rounds....

  3. It's my pleasure. Please, go through it carefully to clear up any misapprehensions.:)

  4. Hard Slotting is the one I care about the most and I am a big proponent. The purpose of the draft should be to provide an advantage to the have nots (although if you read BBA, they'll tell you different). Without hard slotting, players price themselves to whatever team can afford them.

  5. Will do Homein22, thanks again.

    Anon - I'm not sure yet what I think about hard-slotting. Without it, the Rays have done fine. Who that has priced themselves really high would you want (or the Rays or others passed on because of $)?

    In theory I'm opposed, both sides have to agree to a contract, what's more fair than that?

    I'm really not sure what I think. If a HS star wants $10 mil under the old system, and say the Rays are drafting 1st, if they say no they pick someone else. Under the new system, player refuses hard-slot amount and the Rays still don't get him. Same difference. Only change I see is under the old we would presumably know of his demands in advance and pick someone else, and then a rich team could pick him at #30 and sign him. But what's wrong with that, if we wanted him bad enough we had the chance, just decided not to pay the price.

    Seems like it's taking the choice (assuming we know players' demands) away from the team (we can pick him and try to work a deal) and giving it to the players (forget it, not for the slot, going to college). Hope that makes sense btw.

    Love to hear more views on the slotting issue.

  6. I like all 3 ideas mentioned as long as worldwide draft would eliminate the international signing period so teams like yanks couldn't buy all the top hispanic talent because other teams cant afford them.

    And I don't think they should do a lottery draft in the mlb. I mean after 162 games(about double the NBA season) you have a better idea who the worst team is. I wish the NFL would go to it though.

    I think they should also eliminate B agents or just make stricter criteria for them to become a B agent. I mean they are a ton of supplemental draft picks this year, too many in my opinion. People like Qualls shouldnt even be ranked. I'm okay with A agents(even though they too need a stricter criteria).

  7. I am 100% opposed to hard slotting. I'm copying/pasting most of this from my comments in a DRB thread:

    A lot of the high school talent that would’ve signed for over-slot deals would go to college if they aren’t picked in, say, the top 15. The immediate result will be much less high school talent going to pros, and in a few years college classes would be stacked, since all of these guys going to college can’t go in the first round after their junior year. The downside is that MLB would be basically turning two-sport prospects away from the game, particularly inner-city types who play baseball because the money is immediate. Baseball isn’t the #1 sport for a lot of those guys, so if they have to go to college, they’ll play football or basketball or whatever since college baseball teams don’t give out full scholarships.

    To use an example, take Zach Lee. If hard slotting was in effect, he would’ve had to been taken in the top five picks in 2010 to get the bonus he wanted. But he (very likely) wouldn’t have, and would’ve attended LSU to play QB as well as baseball. Then he would’ve had a choice depending on how he did in each sport, but if he was a top-10 NFL prospect and a top-5 MLB prospect, he’s going to the NFL unless he truly loves baseball more. But because the Dodgers could essentially pay him what they wanted, he’s playing baseball, and more talent is always good for the game.

    I don’t want to guess about Lee’s money situation, but how about a hypothetical low-income premium two-sport athlete, say in basketball and baseball. He can go to any college he wants in either sport. Well, the seasons overlap so he’d have to choose a sport. Basketball teams can give out full scholarships. Baseball teams can’t. It’s an obvious choice even before the popularity of NCAA basketball vs. NCAA baseball.

    This blog post from B-ref's Sean Forman is also very good:

  8. Well there has to be something they can do to lower these bonuses that players are getting and still make them sign.

  9. Isn't it bad enough that a young player has practically no option but to sign with the team that drafts him? Now we want also to tell him how much he has to sign for!

    So if I graduate from college with a law degree, and have the resume to earn 6 figures with a prestigious law firm, I can't do it because some barely successful firm has the rights to my services for 1/2 the salary?

    In the name of competitive parity or whatever the interest of the system, my rights are trampled? Sounds like the old argument for the reserve clause. Seems to me there are other ways to maintain competitive parity besides adding hard slotting, which as Doug points out probably has not harmed smart low budget teams anyway. In fact, I think research indicates that the most efficient use of resources remains spending on the draft, even when over slot.

  10. I don't see what is so wrong with the bonuses. They aren't handing out HUGE figures yet, and you can always sign someone for under slot...

  11. When players start falling because of teams not willing to pay bonus demands, you know you have a problem.

    Well if they are going to keep allowing overslot deals, then they have to at least be announced when they happen instead of at the deadline.

  12. What free market advocates are suggesting would be a disaster for the competitive balance in baseball. Even in hard slotting, kids are going to make multi millions in hard slotting bonuses if they are top 15 talents and millions if they are 1st round talents. So don't tell me about limiting choices to the poor inner city kid. Without controls which limit the buying powers of the big market teams, it is the All Stars vs. the AAAA wannabees. That's bad for baseball. A pure free market advocates removing the minimum salary payroll of the 1st 3 seasons and the arb control seasons as well. A free market system means the Rays and 22 other teams are toast and never make the playoffs. Once we have disposed of the pure free market appeal, we can move on and discuss sensible ways for management and union to agree to keep improving competition in baseball while continuing to grow the revenue.

  13. I do not advocate a pure free market, but I do think that there are ways other than limiting players' freedom of choice to maintain balance-which by the way there is more of in baseball than any other major sport.

    In any case, things such as arbitration are negotiated between the union and management so players and owners both have representation in making such decisions. But neither side in negotiations represents the amateur player who has been drafted. Hard slotting, aside from many other practical problems with it as has been pointed out by others on this thread, is imposing a rule on people who have no say in it.

  14. Why not let players fall for bomus demands? I didn't see the Yankees sweep in and take Austin Wilson this year. Another thing is that there is more than just drafting. You have to develop these players too. And so far, not every team is being very sucessful in this area. You could take a really good player, but he could stink if he is not developed correctly.

  15. A few more thoughts (PART 1):

    First, great comments, you've all brought up some interesting points to think about. Robert's last comment is one of my biggest problems too. How can MLB and the union negotiate the terms of employment for draftees in the first place? The draftees aren't a team and they aren't members of the MLB union, so why can those two parties set their bonuses? You and I are as much a member of the union as the draftees, so can the CBA set our salaries too? In addition to not having anyone negotiating on their behalf, the union is clearly going to agree to terms that are completely UNFAVORABLE to the draftees, since money spent on nonunion members takes money away from union members. The whole thing stinks. This is way #1 that the current setup screws kids in the US, Canada, and PR.

    Way #2 they screw the kids in the US, Canada and PR is the lack of a worldwide draft. Why should kids in those 3 countries be forced to go through the draft (with or w/o slotting) while every other kid is a free agent. Our kids can negotiate with one team, and if they can't reach an agreement they won't have a job, it's off to college (or back to college). Every other kid in the world can negotiate with all 30 teams, which is a huge advantage in negotiating power. If you don't like the Indians offer, talk to the Royals, etc. In my opinion it's not only unfair, but illegal. To me it constitutes “reverse” national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and has been happening every year since the first draft in 1965 (interesting timing, no?).

    Now I realize that a worldwide draft would be difficult to do and couldn't happen by the 2012 draft, the first one under the new CBA. But it needs to happen ASAP, and both sides have even agreed to do it in the past. Back in 2002 when they were negotiating the 2003-2006 CBA they agreed to a worldwide draft (it's Attachment 24 to that CBA if you want to read). It basically established a worldwide draft subcommittee to work out the details and have it done in time for the 2004 draft. But the subcommittee rarely met and it was never accomplished. Assuming both sides still agree, lets work out the details and get this done.

    One thing I definitely want to see is the signing deadline moved up, way up. As is stands now, the top players are the ones who wait until the minute to sign on August 15th, and effectively lose a year of development. How crazy is that? Your top talent misses a year while some 50th round you signed for $1,000 pick plays and gets his acclimated to professional ball. For a multi-billion dollar industry they really aren't very smart about developing their most important assets, the players. Lets move the draft to June 1st and set the signing deadline at June 21st. Three weeks is plenty of time to negotiate, especially if hard-slotting is in place, which I think is a done deal given that it's clearly in both sides favor. You are drafted June 1st, given your slot bonus figure, and have 3 weeks to decide. Sounds reasonable to me. And of course I picked June 21st as that's right around the date short-season ball begins play each year. Guys who wait until the deadline to sign might miss a week of games or so as they report, but that's much better than the current setup where they miss the entire season. If we really want to get picks signed quickly so they would have some time in extended spring training, which is obviously beneficial to the pick and the team deciding which affiliate to assign them to, how about this idea: any pick that signs within 72 hours of the draft gets an additional 5% of his slot bonus. Change the hours and percent to whatever you want, but doesn't that make some sense for both sides?

    See PART 2...

  16. PART 2:

    For those who don't know, here is how the other leagues handle signing bonuses. In the NBA they have hard-slotting with a + or – 20% range for negotiating. To me if you're going to go with hard-slotting, you might as well remove all negotiating or you still have some of the problems we have now, just on a smaller scale. In the NFL each team has a rookie salary pool which they can divide up however they want amongst draftees, but they can't exceed the total pool amount. That's worst than our current system. Imagine if you are a 5th round pick and the top pick is a real superstar can't miss player. Most of the money goes to the top pick and you get scraps, that just might cause some bad blood between teammates.

    Quick fact: In the first 5 rounds of the 2010 draft (including supplemental rounds), 43% signed for over-slot bonuses, 15% under-slot, and 42% right at slot. Which leads me to one last thought, and I won't even get in to my usual tirade about the lack of a MINOR league players association or the amount of road per diems. For those who complain (here or elsewhere) about over-slot signings in the current setup, couldn't part of the problem simply be the amount of the slot to begin with? It's set by MLB for the sole reason of trying to keep bonuses down, so by definition it's probably too low now. Perhaps if we worked out more reasonable slots, something approaching market levels, we could solve some of the problem. Probably doesn't matter, I really don't see any way they don't steamroll hard-slotting into the next CBA.

    Sorry so long, your comments really got me thinking! Looking forward to reading more.

  17. Without hard slotting, it makes no sense for the owners to move up the signing deadline. And Doug has stated the very reason, how crazy is it for the player to toss a summers worth of development, delaying his eventual entry into MLB and Free Agency? It is a leverage tool to get more signings done early at or near slot. You think a lot of players demand above slot slot now, see what happens when you move the deadline to July 1.

  18. Not sure I fully understand last Anon. Are you saying that under the current soft-slot system they shouldn't move the signing date earlier because it would give the draftee more leverage?

    I read your comment over a few times, but that's what I'm understanding you to mean. If so, not sure I see why that helps the draftee. No matter what date the deadline is, they have to agree or not agree. The advantage to me is that those who DO sign will get playing time that year, unlike the 8/15 current deadline.

    Can you explain it again to me how a June deadline helps the player? Sorry if I'm just dumb :).

  19. Put yourself in the player's shoes. Your goal is to make the show as quickly as possible. If you are an early pick, you know that the team will very likely sign you over slot rather than waste the pick (Washington and Diekroeger notwithstanding, they were the rare exceptions and both had special circumstances). If you think that missing a summer could delay your arrival to MLB, you have an incentive to sign for slot in the current arrangement. If the deadline allows you to not miss that summer, you have no incentive to sign at slot.

  20. I just saw this on MLBTR and I thought I'd put it here because it's considered an open thread:

    •If you think Rubio is young, look at who the Rays signed. Tampa Bay signed 16-year-old left-hander Luis Cepeda for $60K. The Rays get another DPL All-Star in Cepeda.

    Do any of you guys know anything about Cepeda stuff and size wise?

  21. RE Cepeda: I subscribe to the feed for the Dominican Prospect League site and tweeted this hours ago. (Follow us!)

    But no, couldn't find any video or scouting reports on him, and don't have any contacts with the DPL. All I know is what I tweeted, 16, LHP, $60k. Small bonus so not a major prospect, but we'll see if he sees any action in the DSL next year. Will update if I hear anything.

  22. Thanks Doug, hope you find something out soon. ANd Sorry I don't have a twitter so I didn't know until I looked at the sidebar like right after I posted the queestion.