After initial rumors that the draft might be cancelled this summer, a Wednesday report held that it would be trimmed to as few as 10 rounds. That was confirmed Thursday by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, who tweeted that the league and players union had reached an agreement to that would see the draft shortened to 10 rounds with the possibility of being as few as half that.
Sources: MLB & the MLB Players Association have the framework of an agreement that could be finalized as soon as today. Discussed terms on the draft:
– A draft sometime in July
– Likely 10 rounds, possibly 5
– Bonus deferment: 10% upfront, 45% in July '21, 45% in July '22
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) March 26, 2020
So what does this mean? Outside of the obvious numbers, it totally flips draft strategy and the bonus pools on their heads. Teams would previously engage in over- and underslot plays to take advantage of their respective pools, often by saving money on a higher pick to spend on one or more lower picks. This was often done to get a player to forego his college commitment, for example.
That type of strategy is probably dead for this year, since having only 5-10 picks means needing to make them all count. The idea of funneling money like a shell game cannot work in a 10-round draft, let alone five.
While the parameters of the draft listed in the tweet would make it a very quick affair and easy to cover, the resulting free agent frenzy would be a bit of a nightmare. McDaniel added in a follow-up tweet the deal will likely involve a $10,000 cap on undrafted free agents. The current cap is $125,000, so this new proposal represents a massive cut.
As a result, a lot of college juniors would likely head back to school and lose any leverage in the draft next year to negotiate a higher salary. Likewise, a lot of high school prospects that might have been drafted after round 10 will stick with their college commitments. There will also be a flood of players opting for junior colleges, which would make them eligible to be drafted again next summer or the year after.
This is a developing situation and we will have more information on it once the full details are released.