Contract Negotiation Headline MLB Players MLB Teams

An MLB Where Draft Picks Could Be Traded

It is usually not until later in the year that the discussion surrounding baseball’s inequity bubbles in the minds of writers.  We all know about the huge disparity between the payroll of the New York Yankees and the Florida Marlins, yet the Marlins were able to fight off Goliath in the 2003 World Series. That said, the teams that spend the most money have the best chance to win – which should not be a surprising revelation to anybody.  The big spenders do not only dish out big dollars in Major League free agency, but also in the yearly MLB Rule 4 Draft.  The issue is that many teams that do not have, or are unwilling to spend, big money to pay out the best players available in the draft, will end up selecting lesser talented/projectable players because they are seen as being more “signable”.  Is there any way that the draft system could change?

Major League Baseball is very reluctant to change.  That was evident when Armando Galarraga deserved a Perfect Game, but was robbed by a bad call made by the first-base umpire, which could have been corrected, had the MLB instituted a replay system.  Even since that error, it seems as though instant replay is still far from certain to be implemented in America’s Past Time.

Along with a hesitance to change stemming on the owners/execs side is the fact that changes that they do wish to bring about are often disputed by the strong MLB Players Association.  The MLBPA is not a pushover, whatsoever, and there may be factions within the MLBPA that are not interested in bringing about any changes at all to the MLB Rule 4 Draft.  With signing bonuses likely to be at all time highs (we will not know the actual numbers until the August signing deadline), this is understandable.  There is no way that the MLBPA would be interested in a slotting system.  But what about teams possibly having the right to trade picks?

The NBA and NFL allows its teams to trade picks prior to the teams actually submitting their picks.  The MLB stands alone in preventing that from occurring within its league, and actually continues to prevent teams from trading the players they select until 1 year after those players are drafted.  This forces a team like the Toronto Blue Jays to select a kid like Noah Syndergaard with the 6th pick in Comp Round A.  I have been told that Syndergaard signed for $600,000, which is roughly $300,000 under slot.  No one that I know projected the player to go that high, and Toronto probably figured they could get away spending much less on him than they would with another player that they would have rather taken at that position.  A team like Toronto, with 10 picks in the first 4 rounds, could have traded some picks to a team that needed more picks, in return for an option to move up, not break the bank on multiple high picks, and get someone that they wanted a lot.

It may not dramatically affect negotiations between players selected and the teams that select them.  After all, a lot of the signability concerns are hammered out prior to a player hearing his name called on the conference call (or now on MLB Network on Day 1).  However, perhaps a system that allows for trades will create signing bonus round charts that look more consistent – where the best players are taken at the top and paid by the teams that really want them.

I’m not even sure where I stand on the whole idea, but I think it would be an interesting experiment.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

10 replies on “An MLB Where Draft Picks Could Be Traded”

great article, it is a difficult topic but in the end i see them making the transition to allowing teams to trade picks. btw, congradulations on working out the deal and getting cole brand signed, he had a great first gameyesterday. do teams offer some kind of education bonus for hs players that opt to go pro then take a scholarship?

What is the best source to see all signing bonuses from the various rounds? I know has the first and compensation round. Any other good sources?

Ok thanks. Is an advisor just allowed to take a commission on signing bonuses over 100k?

Great article, very interesting comments. Thanks for creating this website, its such a useful tool for young college students like myself trying to learn more about the industry.

An advisor can take a commission off any signing bonus. What you may have confused (Andrew Stiffler) is that an agent cannot take a commission if it dips the clients MLB salary below the league minimum…..but that only pertains to MLB players, not draft picks.

Darren, nice article but i couldn’t see this happening (would love to though) because of the money involved beyond a signing bonus (i.e, education/tuition, etc).

Comments are closed.