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Monday, October 30, 2006
New Baseball CBA Worse for Draftees and Minor Leaguers

Last week, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a five-year labor contract that will allow play to continue uninterrupted through the 2011 season. While the players, team owners and fans are praising the new agreement and exclaiming that "it's such a great time in the game," the ones not applauding are all the minor leaguers and prospects for next year's draft. That's because the new CBA includes a revamped draft for amateur players, but nobody's talking about that. Here's a summary of some new provisions that substantially affect only drafted players and minor leaguers:

1. Clubs that fail to sign first or second round draft pick will receive the same pick in the subsequent draft as compensation. A club that fails to sign a third round pick will receive a sandwich pick between rounds three and four in the subsequent draft as compensation.

2. Signing deadline of August 15 for draft picks other than college seniors.

3. Period of time before a Player must be protected from the Rule 5 Draft is changed from three years (players who signed out of college) or four years (players who signed out of high school) to four or five years, respectively.

The changes to the draft described in Nos. 1 and 2 above substantially affect the negotiating leverage of drafted players. First, under the old rule, clubs had a huge incentive to sign their top picks because they wasted those draft picks if they didn't sign them. Now it's not a big deal if the clubs don't sign the player because they'll get that same pick again in the following year's draft (in addition to the pick they would otherwise have that year). Second, under the old rule, the clubs lost the rights to the drafted player when the player entered classes in the fall. While the new rule merely shortens the negotiation window by a few weeks, it will affect the ability of players to "hold out" during the negotiation process. Finally, under the old rule, clubs were forced to put minor league prospects on 40-man rosters a year sooner than they will be forced to do under the new rule. The Rule 5 draft is somewhat complicated, but essentially, if a club does not protect the player on the 40-man roster, then another team can draft that player and the drafting team is required to put the player on its 40-man roster.

I wonder if anybody within the union got any input from the draft prospects and minor league players before they agreed to the new provisions? So when Don Fehr says to the union player representatives, "are we willing to sacrifice the rights of prospective members of the union in exchange for something beneficial to the existing members," do you think anybody objected? Oh well, five years from now Mr. Fehr might be asking his player reps. a different question: Should we cut the farm system in half, reduce the number of draft rounds and impose a college draft age rule in return for increased benefits to major league players? Can anybody guess what their answer will be?


I think the position of "Should we cut the farm system in half, reduce the number of draft rounds and impose a college draft age rule in return for increased benefits to major league players? Can anybody guess what their answer will be?" would be closer to that of the Union than anything Management wants. Reducing the minor leagues and the mecahnisms for procuring players at that level would undoubtedly free up more money for teams to spend on major league players. Think about it, less money to be sepent on player development and scouting altogether, equals more money to be spent on major league free agents.

Also, I don't think that the Teams would want to give up their monopolistic hold on draft picks by reducing the draft. Although, the elimination of draft-and-follow picks theoretically eliminates the need for teams to draft beyond the 20-30 players they plan on signing throught the draft in any one year.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/30/2006 11:53 AM  

For those interested, I did a reasonably long story on these changes the night the agreement was announced for Baseball America that can be found at:

I also, just this morning, did a sit-down interview with Rob Manfred and Michael Weiner (two of the main negotiators) together on the draft and minor league changes that will appear in the next issue, and be posted online probably within a week.

--Alan Schwarz
Baseball America.

Anonymous Alan Schwarz -- 10/30/2006 1:01 PM  

I was under the impression that minor league baseball players made $18,000 --> $30,000 per year if they were lucky. Am I reading it correctly that if you are a minor league player that you will have a minimum salary of $60,000? If that is correct, does it apply to all levels including A, AA, AAA, etc. or just one level in particular? If it is across the board, well, then I think that the new baseball CBA is NOT worse for minor leaguers.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/30/2006 2:06 PM  

First Anonymous,

Thanks for the comment, and you've demonstrated my point. The answer is that the players would agree to it and the owners would save a ton of money and use the NCAA as a farm system. Not much "bargaining" there, but the 2nd Circuit (Clarett) says that's just fine.


Thanks for the reference, and, as usual, it's very informative.


The $60k is only for the limited number of 40-man roster players sent back down to the minor leagues.

Blogger Rick Karcher -- 10/30/2006 5:08 PM  

I wonder if the precedence for messing with the minor leaguers, colleges, and high schoolers from the new CBA of the NBA which also messed with the non-members of the union.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/30/2006 5:40 PM  

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