“Abolish the draft”

Pinto tears FOX’s Michael Rosenberg a new one over the latter’s half-assed draft column, and then invokes the nuclear option:

Abolish the draft, and let these amateurs sign for what the market will bear. Then we can stop having these idiotic discussions about what’s wrong with the draft. The draft is just wrong, period.

I haven’t thought through all of the implications of such a thing in this day and age (given all of the changes to the baseball labor market, the example of the pre-draft system is probably of little utility), but as I sit here right now, I can’t see how it would create any more problems than any of the draft “solutions” people have suggested. Sure it’s radical, but only in immediate effect, not long term implications. At least I don’t think so, anyway.

David is throwing it out there for us. Let’s run with it. And please, try to think harder than “the Yankees would just buy all of the good players.” That doesn’t happen now with international signings, and they haven’t raised a big Tigers-with-Porcello ruckus in the amateur draft.

Educate me, people: what would be the pros and cons of just chucking this system and going all free-agent?


newest oldest most voted
Mark Runsvold
Guest
Mark Runsvold

Pro: No more artificial depression of amateurs’ bargaining power.

bpasinko
Guest
bpasinko

Con:  It’s not that the Yankees with buy all the good players, it’s that most teams will besides a select few.

Mark Runsvold
Guest
Mark Runsvold

Pro: Hurts the NCAA.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Pro: More power to the players.  Every agent would be better represented as well.

There aren’t any cons as far as I can tell.

Matt A.
Guest
Matt A.

You want to get radical make the minors actual independent leagues.  Keep AAA as the only level with affiliations.  When you think a guy is ready sign him to a minor league contract at AAA level.

If you still want a draft have a separate National League and American League draft.  Make a draftee choose between two clubs.

Rob²
Guest
Rob²

Could it be that the Yankees don’t sign away all the top international talent because it’s a much bigger crapshoot than the US talent pool?

Do you really think that the Nationals or Rays or Orioles would have any chance at signing top talent out of college like Strasburg or Price or Wieters if there were no draft?

There’s no draft in college, but last I checked, there’s not exactly a lot of parity there.

Chris
Guest
Chris

What the Yankees will do is not draft like crazy and pay immediately, but wait until a player hits AAA and then pay like crazy, once much of the risk is gone.

Its the long term control of the player that, once its gone, will allow a team with cash to snap up all the low risk/high reward players.  Why pay for all the minor league training when all you need to do is pay as soon as they are ready.  It makes free agent spending much more efficient, which will make the high spending teams better.

Josh Fisher
Guest
Josh Fisher

Con: Logistical disaster.

Rob²
Guest
Rob²

@Chris – Abolishing the Rule 4 draft wouldn’t necessitate abolishing the Rule 5 draft.  Teams would still control a player’s rights once signed, they would just have to pay them market-rate.

What is unclear to me is why people assume that abolishing the Rule 4 would hurt the owners alone.  Isn’t it more likely that it would just take money away from free agents?  I mean, why would a team suddenly decide to cut into profits to pay more to amateur players instead of cutting into the pool they use for new free agents?

It’s the substitution effect, people.

J.W.
Guest
J.W.

Pro: It’s fairer to the so-called “amateur” players. Con: The very best prospects would likely land in one of only a few places. (This is somewhat mitigated by the high chances of failure for most prospects.) Pro: Having the worst team get the best pick is a classic example of a disincentivizing situation, so doing away with the draft would do away with that Con: The draft is somewhat exciting. Pro: Free agent signings are somewhat exciting. Ultimately it comes down to this. Would the Rays have made the W.S. without a draft? And, do we care if the Rays… Read more »

tony a
Guest
tony a

I’m for it, but most fans are far too anti free agency (thanx to a fabulous propaganda campaign by MLB owners) to go along with anything that increases the extent of free agency…

Greg Simons
Guest
Greg Simons

Wow, nearly 2000 people have voted on the poll at Rosenberg’s page, and a full 93% are in favor of a draft salary bonus cap.  Amazing how willing people are to give away the rights of others.

YankeesfanLen
Guest
YankeesfanLen

The Yankees would just buy all of the good players.  YAY!!!!!

Rob²
Guest
Rob²

@Greg – Remember that primarily, it’s the Players’ Association that has given away the rights of the draftees, and it’s pretty clearly designed to get more money for major league players. Abolishing the draft is not going to magically cause teams to have more money to spend on players.  Maybe they pay more for the amateur talent, but every dollar that goes to an otherwise drafted player will be taken from the pocket of an established major league player through free agency.  To believe otherwise is to believe that teams are just sitting on cash that they would otherwise be… Read more »

Tripon
Guest
Tripon

Con: Its not as if the draft budgets for teams will grow to meet the newfound demands of amateur free agents. Guys like Strasburg, Wieters, Price, etc. will always get paid. But what does abolishing the draft do for guys picked in the 5th round, 10th round, 15th round, etc.? The MLB draft is kinda like the NFL draft, at least if you’re picked in the later rounds by a team, you know you’re wanted by at least one team. Would getting rid of the rule 4 draft lead to a raise in the bonuses these guys get, or would… Read more »

Greg Simons
Guest
Greg Simons

@Rob^2 – I don’t care if it’s owners, MLB players, fans, whoever.  They’re restricting, or wanting to restrict, the ability of individuals to find employment in their desired field.  Imagine whatever field you work in, but now one employer has exclusive rights to hire you.  They may be located in a city you have no desire to live in, their management may be inept, etc.  How would you like that?

But because we’re talking about rich, greedy baseball players who bolt at free agency, leaving their “hometown” team to go elsewhere, so that makes it okay.

Aaron Moreno
Guest
Aaron Moreno

Pro: Genuine freedom to contract.

Con: Potential destruction of franchises.

Mad Bum
Guest
Mad Bum

This system would hurt the players. there would be such a glut of players in the market every year that the price would go down. Sure, the bigger talents would still be bought by the Yankees and Red Sox and other big market teams, but maybe not for as much, and the remaining talent would almost certainly be signed at a discount.

This reason is why baseball doesn’t have a bunch of 1-year contracts for everybody with free agency for everybody at the end of each year.

Rob²
Guest
Rob²

@Greg – My chosen profession has very little relevance to the MLB draft, but the idea that no professions in this country are restricted along similar lines is false.  Academia is restrictive.  Medicine is restrictive.  Investment banking is restrictive.  Acting is restrictive.  People who want to work at the highest levels of any given industry are constrained by any number of factors. The relevant piece is that US labor law allows the Players’ Association to decide the barriers to entry into MLB.  Part of the cost of the protection that union provides is submitting to the draft. Would abolishing the… Read more »

Rob²
Guest
Rob²

And just to be clear, I don’t begrudge the players getting paid.  They should get as much they can get whenever they have the chance, be it through the draft or arbitration or free agency.

Let’s just be honest about who benefits from the draft, because it’s not just the owners.

Wooden U. Lykteneau
Guest
Wooden U. Lykteneau

Making ALL players subject to the draft would be a rather simple first step. A structured slot/bonus for the first two rounds would be a harder second step. The former would prevent the Japanese stars from being bought, the latter would kill the “signability” issue. Will either happen? Hell, no.

Ron
Guest
Ron

Aaron Moreno is the only one that said it so far. There is already a large difference between the so-called ‘large-market’ / ‘small-market’ teams in signing free agents. I don’t know if it’s true or not, except as it effects the Royals. Then it’s true. But if some teams can’t afford to sign premium “proven” players, how can they afford to sign “amateur” players at free agent type contracts? No franchise should have to mortgage it’s future for an unproven high school/college player. And there’s plenty of evidence that it’s all a crap shoot regardless. And as far as the… Read more »

Rob²
Guest
Rob²

@Ron – Baseball is absolutely a taught skill.  Do you really think that baseball players are just born with the ability to hit or throw a curveball?  Is it just coincidence that the vast majority of major league players are American?

Are some people blessed with a level of talent that few have?  Sure.  But let’s not discount the years of training that go into being a professional athlete.

mo'moe
Guest
mo'moe

there’s no real justification to have a draft, and there’s certainly no way of justifying the fact that foreign born players can begin professional careers at 16, and native american players are forbidden from doing so. it’s unlikely that all the best players will sign with the yankees or dodgers or other high dollar teams.  after all, the farm systems are a lot smaller than they used to be.  at this point in time, there are only so many slots in a farm system.  no one’s got multiple, power house AAA teams like the yanks used to, or the cards… Read more »

Ron
Guest
Ron

Rob – to be fair, I’ve read some of your previous comments, and I like the things you have said. So I’m not picking on you. But my commment was “Being an athlete is a talent, like singing, dancing, painting, woodworking. It’s not a taught skill”, and I stand by that. I didn’t say baseball specifically. Yes, you have to be taught to throw a curveball and swing a bat. I’ve been taught how to do both. I just played baseball (semi-pro) 3 weeks ago, and I still can’t do it, no matter who much I’ve been taught. Being an… Read more »

Ron
Guest
Ron

Rob, I wasn’t implying that you called me an idiot. I just know there are a lot of people out there smarter than I am.

Tripon
Guest
Tripon

>>it’s unlikely that all the best players will sign with the yankees or dodgers or other high dollar teams.  after all, the farm systems are a lot smaller than they used to be.  at this point in time, there are only so many slots in a farm system.  no one’s got multiple, power house AAA teams like the yanks used to, or the cards used to, or the dodgers used to. There’s nothing preventing a team from restarting multiple AAA teams, or rather the rule preventing it will change allowing teams to do it if the teams lobby for it.… Read more »

abc
Guest
abc

If we eliminate the draft we should also eliminate the salary structure (3 years at the club’s mercy, 3 years of arbitration). 

As Charlie Finley said in 1976, make ‘em all free agents.  No contracts guaranteed beyond one year.  With no artificial market shortages, the player compensation would find its own level in a free market.

tadthebad
Guest
tadthebad

@Rob^2:
There are other professions that are restrictive, but they aren’t restricted by a draft at all.  They are restrictive by the skill level required of their employees, as well as by the small number of companies in which one can practice his/her profession.  But the companies in these restictive professions must still rely on offering attractive places of business and salaries to attain top-level talent, just like with free agency.

Greg Simons
Guest
Greg Simons

@Rob^2 – “the idea that the draft does nothing but limit the income of amateur players at the benefit of the owners is a lie.”  This comment was in a response to me, but I never said it, so I’ll assume it was a general statement.  And I never said owner are the only benficiaries of the draft. Regarding the statement that other fields are restrictive in their employment, sure, but not to a single company, and not where they can control the conditions of your employment for a decade. @Ron – “If they don’t like the rules, they can… Read more »

Wooden U. Lykteneau
Guest
Wooden U. Lykteneau

Actually, the number of affiliates IS capped at 160. It’s something that the NAPBL came up with in the early ‘90s as a means of pitting towns against each other (under the guise of “minimum standards”) to build new stadiums—and for a while, it worked…

…until independent baseball took off and didn’t have to follow those rules. They could build stadiums on the cheap (Worcester) or construct in the territory of established affiliates (Brockton) or simply move in when the stadium was abandoned by the affiliates (Pittsfield, New Haven, Sussex).

jeff weissbuch
Guest
jeff weissbuch

This has to be the stupid thing I have heard in a long time.Mr.Rosenberg must either be a big market fan ( Yanks no don’t)or he just doesn’t get it.The draft is totally fair.We need to have more competive balance not less.The Yankees and others have more than there share of advantages,we can’t give them this one too.If you want this we will just pair baseball down to 6 or 8 teams so Mr.Rosenberg’s yankee’s can win it all with out having to work so hard.

John H
Guest
John H

Somewhat of a tangent here, but I’m shocked by how much animosity there is for agents, one agent in particular (not necessarily on here, but in general). All the agents do is prevent the teams from screwing over 18-yr old kids who have absolutely no business / negotiating acumen. Can you imagine yourself immediately after graduating high school trying to negotiate the finer points of a multimillion dollar contract? Where would you even begin in trying to determine your market value? I’ll just say this: if my son was entering the draft today, he’d be advised by Scott Boras. The… Read more »

Steveo
Guest
Steveo

A couple of Cons: Two quick points to make is that the MLB draft is prob. the least likely choice to be a FA system. NFL and NBA the players go straight to the team and can have an immediate impact. MLB you could have a guy like Matt White that you give $10 million to and he never plays a ML inning. Also finally I think you can make the argument that the MLB draft actually gives more players opportunities than a FA system would. You would be hurting 100’s of players from making a living and having a… Read more »

GWR
Guest
GWR

It seems clear, at least right now anyhow, that the very top talent would end up in only a few places. Maybe 8-10 teams would get the top 20% of the talent. Every single year. Its just reality. Eliminating the draft would change everything we have all know about pro sports all our lives. Teams that don’t do well get a chance to improve themselves by getting first dibs at young talent. I realize money issues don’t always make this ideal but it would seem a simple fix to that is a cap on bonuses and salaries for players in… Read more »

mando3b
Guest
mando3b

If my son were entering the draft today and wanted to make a lot of money, there would be any number of fine agents he could choose from. If he wanted to make a lot of money AND be gratuitously saddled with a reputation as a punk and greedhead, then Scotty B. would be our man.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Here is one interesting way to get rid of the draft.  Poll the teams such that the top 100 hundred players are ranked.  Have all of the teams submit closed bids for every player in the top 100, who ever submits the highest offer wins.  If one team would like to drop their entire budget on the top prospect so be it, but then they won’t have any other draft picks.  It would bring in some interesting game theory.

Continue with the draft as normal with the “lesser” picks.

The Ol Goaler
Guest
The Ol Goaler

Quoting themarksmith…     6 of Yankees’ 26 World Series have come after the draft was instituted 44 years ago. They thoroughly dominated from 1930 to early 60’s.     3 of 10 Cardinals’ World Series titles came after the draft started. Seven of the 10 Cardinals’ WS titles came after Branch Rickey invented the farm system; signing multiple amateurs to minor-league contracts, and keeping the best… The championship teams of the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s were built this way. The Cards won three pennants (and two WS) in the ‘60s, three pennants (and one WS) in the ‘80s, and… Read more »

mo'moe
Guest
mo'moe

triton yes, actually.  instead of allowing them to use leverage against amateur players to institute financial responsibility on themselves, which is what most of their ideas mean. my earlier point about the fact that mlb is allowed to use their leverage to exploit under age international talent…and yet, they also have helped/insisted to create/on creating a system where it’s not possible at all for underage natural born american citizens to sell themselves to…national association affiliated professional teams…is an example of what you’d have to call either institutionalized racism, or something similar to that.  the ownership of mlb is all about… Read more »

mo'moe
Guest
mo'moe

tripon: while those examples may prove your point, i’d submit to you that other folks drafted lower might find better paychecks and bonuses being paid, if they were able to have more than one team to negotiate with.  an actual market place for their talents… i’d rather have a hard limit on the number of minor league affiliates a major league team could enter into an agreement with than for MLB to continue on with this draft nonsense. again, the idea of having a draft is centralized control and cost containment, which is in management’s interest, not really the individual… Read more »

mo'moe
Guest
mo'moe

er…‘and that’s never enought, apparently’ *for the owners*…the same folks who cried poor for thirty years, threatened contraction…and by god want to lower their overhead and rake in more money.

eh?

Thomas J. Comer
Guest
Thomas J. Comer

One thing that would have to change w/o a draft is that the modern scouts would have to become what scouts used to be: salesmen.  They have always had to project and evaluate talent, but with the advent of the draft thay have not had to cultivate a kid’s family and sell the franchise to the prospect.  It would be an adjustment.
TComer

KPatrick
Guest
KPatrick

I don’t think it’s fair to take “the Yankees will buy all the good players” off the table as a “con.”  If the list of “all the good players” that the Yankees can “buy” expands to included North American players between the ages of 18 and 22, the analysis changes.  I understand it’s not the sexiest argument that can appear in a comment thread, but I’d hate to avoid the simple answer.  That’s a fundamental change in facts. Two darn-near-facts:  (1) The argument about parity being good in and of itself isn’t necessarily foreclosed for all times just because it’s… Read more »

Jason
Guest
Jason

@John H – totally agree.  The anger towards Boras on beyond ridiculous.

Tripon
Guest
Tripon

>>er…‘and that’s never enought, apparently’ *for the owners*…the same folks who cried poor for thirty years, threatened contraction…and by god want to lower their overhead and rake in more money.<<

So the answer would be to raise the investment and expense of signing amateur talent on the whole, and give clubs an easier excuse to claim poverty?

Doug
Guest
Doug

Let’s agree on some givens here: 1) Businesses exist to generate profit for their owners 2) The current system was COLLECTIVELY bargained If we can agree with this: 1)  Let’s stop bashing ownership for having a profit motive.  I’ve been a baseball fan since I put a glove on, but I don’t pretend my team would exist if it stopped making money.  If all we’re really arguing about here is whether owners, or athletes, make more money, the discussion is downright boring. 2)  Sure there’s tension between management and labor over the division of the revenues of the business, but… Read more »

themarksmith
Guest
themarksmith

I’m not sure the international signings are the same situation as American signings. Latin America has the disadvantage of unknown ages and fewer organized leagues with comparable talent levels (though that one is lessening). East Asia is even bleaker on being able to compare talent. You can’t get young players from Japan, the one place that it’s easier to compare to. The Yankees, and other teams, don’t necessarily sign foreign players possibly because it’s much harder to judge them. Sure, they can go ahead and sign a bunch of them anyway, but they may think it’s wiser to stick to… Read more »

themarksmith
Guest
themarksmith

All that said, I’m not sure a draft is the best thing, and I think players deserve whatever they can get. But I think some “free-market” people will change their minds if their teams get screwed.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

Baseball has been given anti-trust exemptions, and so to that end, the owners and MLB executives acting on behalf of the owners can dictate how the system works.  Does it benefit the owners?  Of course, but think about the ramifications of opening up the system and completely destroying the current structure.  Teams would fold.  New teams would pop up that would throw balance out of whack.  You lose continuity.  It would hurt the sport.  To all of you who are crying about how owners are screwing over young men: these young men are getting multi-million dollar bonuses.  Because let’s face… Read more »

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

Another point, this time about Boras: The guy does what he gets paid to do – negotiate the best possible contracts for his players.  But again, there’s an extra cost associated with that and that often involves having to do things unconventionally (Bryce Harper moving to the Dominican?) or risking alienation/stigma (Crow or Alvarez).  If my son were to enter professional baseball, I would want him to be as successful as possible, but not by dealing with an agent who uses ethically questionable tactics to earn a higher salary.  And I hope that by the time my son has to… Read more »