I’ll be honest, folks. I don’t know how many many more of these I’ve got in me. I don’t think I’ve written a post for 18 straight days since….ever. Even in my blogging prime, if there was such a thing, I typically took the weekends off. To think about stretching this out for another two, three months? They may be pretty ugly. We’ll keep it going until we don’t. It’s not like anyone’s reading these things.
If you’ve paid attention to Washington, you know nowadays (more than in the past, at least) that they can’t pass a bill about one thing. No, they throw a whole lot of things into the mix and try to get things through that way. We’ve seen it so often, most recently in the coronavirus bills that were passed with items that seemed very unrelated to the pandemic.
Anyway, I only mention that to talk a little more about the recent owners/players agreement for the 2020 season. Because as part of that agreement, the players ceded a lot of control over the draft, at least for this season. While some parts of these seem reasonable given the state of the world, some parts….well, it feels like MLB decided to shoe-horn in some of the ideas they already wanted into an agreement that had a pressing need to be ratified.
I can understand the idea of capping draft bonuses and shifting some of that money to the next couple of years for the players. I mean, I don’t think they really need to, but as much as we talk about baseball being a thriving sport, there’s got to be some of these teams that are really going to feel a pinch. Miami, Pittsburgh, places like that that may be relying on TV money that isn’t coming. Sure, baseball spreads a lot of money around, but even the national TV money won’t be coming in, at least not to the level that a full season would bring. Teams make more than they let on, but I do think some of the bottom teams may start to run bigger deficits without that money. So giving them–and if you give it to them, you have to really give it to all the way baseball works–a chance to draft and defer payment is understandable.
What isn’t so understandable is giving MLB the opportunity to cut the draft rounds. In theory, there could be just five rounds of the draft this year–a year, let’s remember, that was being thought of as one of the strongest draft classes in a long time–and then all the talent that didn’t get drafted would be limited to a $20,000 contract instead of one around $100,000 like normal. This feels like rank greed, honestly, at a time when players will perhaps really need to go pro to make up money that their family could have lost in this crisis.
Also, a shortened draft plays nicely into MLB’s ideas of contracting the minor leagues. Fewer players taken means fewer roster spots needed. Given that they were pushing for this back in December, the idea that it has anything to do with the ramifications of this country-wide shutdown seems pretty tenuous at best. Besides, we know that MLB will do anything it can to be short-sighted. It’s their specialty, much like Sith Lords were Obi-Wan and Anakin’s.
Keith Law is not necessarily one of my favorites but he wrote a good rundown of all the draft-related issues at The Athletic, if you have a subscription. He points out that cutting the draft down doesn’t really do much for the cash flow of the organizations. Some of these numbers may sound big to us, but when the money starts flowing again from attendance, TV, and the like, it’s really not going to make a bit of difference.
You’d think they’d want to get as much cheap talent as they could into their organizations. The Cardinals, for instance, know what kind of gems can be found in the mid-teen rounds. However, MLB is doing everything to make it seem they care about every penny they can shake loose and put in their pocket and little about the players that create that revenue.
Well, at least some things in this crazy time are normal.