MLB Union Short on Hispanic votes ahead of international draft deadline

“There were a lot of rallies and we were heard,” Cruz, 42, from the Dominican Republic, said of the union. “There were a lot of Latino players involved.”

MLB has said it wants to overhaul the international free agent system, in which kids as young as 16 can sign with teams, due to concerns about corruption, performance-enhancing drug use, and verbal agreements with kids much younger than allowed, especially in Dominican Republic. The Caribbean island has produced more baseball players than any country outside the United States.

But the union, whose previous proposals to change the current international eligibility system were rejected by MLB, pointed to team front offices and scouts as the culprit. After a new labor agreement was struck in March, Tony Clark, the union’s chief executive and former player, called the current system’s problems “very much to do with check cutters.”

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred countered last month, telling reporters, “Our efforts to curb corruption in the Dominican Republic are ongoing and diligent. It is easy to say that it is people who write checks, that they are engaged in corruption. But, you know, someone takes the check, right?

MLB has proposed a 20-round project for international amateurs starting in 2024 that would include $181 million in spending on the top 600 picks, tight rules on per-pick bonuses awarded, and a $20,000 cap on signing unused free agents. The union responded last week with a 20-round draft that included $260 million in spending on the top 600 picks, looser bonus rules, a $40,000 cap on signing undrafted free agents, and a range of measures it believes will could improve the development and education of the players.

(Once an amateur player signs with a team, the union does not represent him until he is on the Major League 40 list.)