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Could the MLB Draft Receive a Major Face Lift?

Where would Rick Porcello have been drafted had there not been signability concerns? (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
Where would Rick Porcello have been drafted had there not been signability concerns? (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
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Major League Baseball's first-year player draft isn't perfect and there have been plenty of suggestions thrown around that people - experts and fans - believe would improve the system.  Jason A. Churchill discusses some of the changes that he would like to see implemented by Major League Baseball in the next collective bargaining agreement.

Hard Slotting

  • Capping the bonus money that a player can earn would allow the top talents to end up on the teams that need them.  Guys like Bryan Bullington won't be drafted No. 1 overall and "tough sign" guys like Rick Porcello won't fall to playoff teams at No. 27 if there is a hard slotting system.
  • Could the implementation of a hard slotting system in the draft suggest that the owners will eventually go after a hard salary cap?
  • Teams will not have to deal with as many holdouts and will be able to get drafted players into their systems more quickly.

Draft Pick Compensation

  • The ranking system that determines whether a free agent earns Type A or Type B status needs to be updated and improved.  There is a lot of new statistical analysis that should be utilized to bring the system into the 2010's.
  • Draft pick compensation is designed to help the teams that can not afford to retain their own players, but the system hurts the players - particularly those that are not quite valuable enough to justify Type A status.  For example, set-up men often find themselves stuck on the free agent market because teams are not willing to surrender a draft pick for a non-closing relief pitcher.

Trading Draft Picks

  • With so many picks in the draft - over 1500 - there would need to be some restrictions on the number and/or frequency of traded picks.
  • The ability to trade draft picks in addition to or instead of prospects would open up a lot of possibilities both for teams at the top of the draft and teams making playoff runs.
  • Can you imagine some of the packages that the Washington Nationals would have had to turn down from teams trying to acquire the No. 1 pick in 2009 and 2010?

Worldwide Draft

  • The volume of players that would become available during a worldwide draft would make this implementation extremely challenging.
  • Some teams would benefit from a worldwide draft, especially if it were paired with a hard slotting system, but the teams that invest heavily in the international market would be penalized.

Timing of the Draft/Miscellaneous

  • Moving the draft from early June to late June would allow more college players to attend.  That would be a good experience for the players drafted, but I don't see the MLB draft ever scratching the popularity of the NBA or NFL draft.  Not enough familiar players.
  • Moving up the signing deadline could be the most likely change in the new CBA.  This would be good for teams because they would be able to get their new players under professional supervision much sooner in several cases.
  • Allow all college players to be eligible for the draft.  There would be more talent in the draft pool each year, but Churchill suggests that more talent would reach the college ranks as well because they would know that they didn't have to spend three years at school before getting another shot at the draft.  Would this help the college game or create a "one-and-done" culture similar to NCAA Basketball?
  • Implement a system similar to the NBA's in which players have to declare for the draft.  Like the NBA draft process, players would have the opportunity to pull their names from the draft.  This would help eliminate some of the risk for teams on draft day because they wouldn't have to worry about a drafted player fulfilling a college commitment.  

I am in support of several of the changes that Churchill proposes.  Changes that eliminate some of the risk for teams should be implemented.  Additionally, several free agents could benefit from the revamping of the system that determines Type A and Type B status.  On the other hand, I am not yet on board with hard slotting or a worldwide draft.  A lot of teams feel that their best way to compete is by investing aggressively in the draft and the international market.  These teams are hurt if those two changes are implemented.