Posted by Sean Forman on August 17, 2010
Last night was the amateur draft signing deadline and lots and lots of "over slot" deals came through at the end. Leading to gnashing of teeth and complaints about money going to unproven players.
One of the things that seems likely in the next collective bargaining agreement is that the players and teams will clear the way for hard slotting in the amateur draft--meaning a system where draft pick #1 gets $Y and draft pick #2 gets slightly less than $Y, etc. etc. with the commissioner's office setting Y. Some argue that the MLBPA (player's union) won't let this happen, but they are wrong.
1) The MLBPA does not and can not care one iota for players not on the 40-man and does not in any way shape or form represent them. They are the major league baseball players association. Their responsibility is to guys who have made (or will soon) make the show--full stop.
2) As such, they would love hard slotting (assuming it isn't a backdoor to the cap) that frees up money for major league vets, and they would love the removal of FA compensation, which only increases the value of existing major league free agents. I can freely sign Bengie Molina as he won't cost me any draft picks.
3) The league could possibly set a draconian slot system, but as someone else pointed out, they then will face issues with:
a) players saying screw you and going to play in Japan or the Frontier League or some such thing. "If I'm going to be riding a bus for three years, I'm going to do it with double the signing bonus." This is not as much of an issue as it is for the NBA and NHL with Euro leagues. in the NFL, I'm guessing the NFLPA represents those players, so the issues with slotting would need to be collectively bargained (I'm guessing).
b) legal challenges (IANAL, so I can't speak to the issues here) from the players whose value in the marketplace is being grossly distorted.
c) You'll never sign the two-sport athletes then as you can't buy them away from football.
I also suspect a slotting system would have some perverse effects.
Would there be more pressure on high schoolers to go to college since they have less leverage now and might increase their slot payment later?
What would the world of signability guys be like? and what would the effect be on them? Would teams draft them higher to give them a higher slot or lower to since you can't now throw money at them to get them to sign and who can risk not signing a third round pick?
Would money pour (and I mean really pout) into the latin markets as big market clubs can no longer use the draft as an opportunity for competitive advantage?
Would teams have to offer slot and be required to sign every player?
[ed. note] this originally started as a comment in this thread on BaseballThinkFactory.org.