MLB and Union Scrap Plan for International Draft

Major League Baseball and its players’ union failed to agree on the specifics of an international amateur draft before Monday’s deadline, and thus the status quo will continue in the sport.

Despite calls to reform the existing system which some claim is taking advantage of Hispanic children, amateur players outside of the US and Canada will continue to play affiliated baseball through free agency. And the qualifying offer system, in which draft pick rewards are awarded to certain major league free agents, will remain in place.

“Players have made it clear from the outset that any international draft must substantially improve the status quo for these players, and not unfairly discriminate between these players and local members,” the MLB Players Association said in a statement Monday afternoon.

The league countered in a statement, in part: “We are disappointed that the MLBPA chose the status quo instead of moving to an international draft that would guarantee future international players larger signing bonuses and better training opportunities, and increased transparency to better address root causes.” . or corruption in the existing system.”

When MLB and the union were in contentious negotiations over a new labor agreement during the offseason, the decision on the international draft had to be delayed in order not to delay the start of the regular season. MLB has effectively offered the union a trade: the introduction of an international amateur draft in 2024, something the league has long wanted but the union has long resisted, in exchange for abolishing the draft pick compensation system that the union claims is hurting players. ‘ market price.

The parties have had several months to explore the complex topic, solicit the views of people in the many affected countries, garner support and adjust their proposals. The union made another offer on Saturday, while MLB responded with what it called its final and best offer on Sunday.

MLB has proposed a 20-round project for international amateurs starting in 2024 that will include $191 million in spending on the top 600 picks (which it says is $24 million more than the current system). The league’s proposed system would have rigid rules on bonuses awarded per pick, a $20,000 cap on signing undeclared free agents, and a guarantee of at least $5,000 in stipends for all players.

The union responded with a 20-round draft that included spending $260 million on the top 600 picks. The union’s proposal included looser bonus rules, a $40,000 cap on signing undeclared free agents, and a range of measures that it believed could improve player education, fight corruption, and provide safeguards against international players.

The union, which has been in contact with the players’ leaders throughout the negotiations, is not required to hold a full player vote, and it did not do so on Monday because the gap between the two proposals was too wide, according to a person familiar with the negotiations, who was not entitled to speak publicly.

The union, for example, felt that there was still too much discrepancy in spending and top slot sizes between the existing MLB home amateur draft for players who had at least completed high school and the proposed international draft.

MLB has said it wants to overhaul the international free agent system, in which children as young as 16 can sign with 30 league clubs due to concerns about corruption, performance-enhancing drug use, and verbal agreements with children much younger than allowed. especially in the Dominican Republic. Some leading scouts and coaches in the Dominican Republic agreed.

The league met resistance from the union and players who did not want to give up the freedom of action of international amateur players and who argued that the people who pay the check – the league and team officials – are not doing enough to stop any malfeasance. . While several current and former MLB players were opposed to the draft, they called for reforms to better enforce the rules, protect children, and improve their educational opportunities.

“At its core, each of our proposals has been aimed at protecting against the scenario that all players fear most – the erosion of our game on the world stage, when international players become the latest victim of baseball’s priority of efficiency over fundamental fairness.” the union said in a statement. “The league’s responses fell short of what the players could see as a fair deal.”