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SBD/Issue 181/Leagues & Governing Bodies
Record Deal For Top Pick Could Change Structure Of MLB Draft
Published June 9, 2009
POTENTIAL LANDMARK CASE: In DC, Dave Sheinin writes the Strasburg negotiations are "being viewed as a possible landmark case," and it has been "suggested Boras could sign Strasburg to an independent league team or take him to Japan -- and re-enter him in the 2010 draft -- if he does not get what he wants from the Nationals." Boras: "The international market has always been a link to the value of the extraordinarily gifted draft pick. The fact is, we now have international baseball players who have never played in the major leagues dictating what the market is for talent. ... The need for talent without major league certification is at a level it's never been at before, which tells you about the demand." But Sheinin notes demand, "while a crucial factor in free agency, is not part of the equation in the draft" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/9).
Nationals Will Face Considerable
Pressure From Fans To Sign Strasburg
TIME FOR A CHANGE: In L.A., Bill Shaikin wrote with Boras "hinting at the mother of all bonus battles" for Strasburg, MLB owners and the MLBPA "ought to commit to draft reform that pays players fairly and promptly and enables the worst teams to select the best players rather than pass on them for fear of not signing them." It comes as "little surprise ... that owners covet a bonus scale, with each draft pick receiving a specified amount." MLB Exec VP/Labor Relations Rob Manfred: "You have some cost certainty, but, frankly, that is not the biggest benefit. The biggest benefit is restoring the integrity of the draft. If you know Round 1, Slot 1, is going to cost you X dollars, you have no motivation to do anything other than take the best player." Shaikin noted the owners "proposed slot payments for draft picks in the last two rounds of collective bargaining," and the union "rejected the proposal each time” (L.A. TIMES, 6/7). ESPN’s Peter Gammons noted slotting is “going to be a big sticking point” in CBA negotiations in ’11, and the “union will fight it, but in the end I think they'll give in to it” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN, 6/8).
PLAYING SLOTS: SI’s Tom Verducci said the Strasburg negotiations "may be the lynchpin where we get to a slotting system in 2012, because I have a feeling even some Major League players are going to say, 'Timeout. This guy hasn’t played a day in the big leagues and he’s making more than me and I’ve been around in the big leagues for three or four years.'" MLB Net’s Harold Reynolds: "That’s what happened with the NBA" ("MLB Tonight: Batting Practice," MLB Net, 6/8). FOX SPORTS' Michael Rosenberg wrote MLB "needs a true slotting system -- not just a ridiculous, unenforceable commissioner's recommendation. It needs a system like the NBA, where the top pick is locked into a certain figure and the contract values diminish with each subsequent pick." Rosenberg: "Having a slotting system should mean more to the owners than not having one means to the players. We're talking about competitive balance and the fate of a dozen or so small-market teams" (FOXSPORTS.com, 6/8).
A LEAGUE OF HIS OWN: BASEBALL AMERICA's John Manuel writes Strasburg "may set a new bonus record, but his peers shouldn't count on it." With the economy "sagging and major league attendance already taking a hit, clubs may not be as prepared to go above" the slotting recommendations. One NL Scouting Dir said, "I'm sure this economy will have some effect. I don't see how it couldn't." A second NL Scouting Dir: "You have to think the economy will be a factor. The problem is the bonus expectations were raised by all the spending last year" (BASEBALL AMERICA, 6/1 issue). However, ESPN’s Gammons noted there are “some teams, like the Tigers, the Red Sox, the Yankees, who don't adhere” to MLB’s suggested slotting system. Gammons: "The team that spent the most on the draft last year was Kansas City, which I find pretty remarkable" (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN, 6/8).
NO HOLDING BACK: In Pittsburgh, Chuck Finder reports Pirates GM Neal Huntington sent a letter to season-ticket holders about the Draft that read, "Our selections may or may not match-up with the rankings compiled by various publications, but in every case we will select the player who we feel will have the greatest impact on the Pirates' organization." The Pirates last year did not complete a contract with first-round pick 3B Pedro Alvarez, repped by Boras, until September, but Huntington "reiterated the club will consider all prospects regardless of agents or 'financial restrictions'" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/9).
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