Abolish The Draft

After watching Stephen Strasburg break a record for the largest bonus signed through the draft, it’s not a big surprise that Bud Selig is talking tough on mandatory slotting and saying that he’s going to be “very aggressive” in trying to implement a worldwide draft in the next round of CBA negotiations. The commissioner has continually seen the draft as a place to reduce labor costs for the owners, and the MLBPA is more agreeable to bargaining away the rights of non-union members than making concessions that effect players already in the union.

However, I think there’s a better way than a worldwide draft. So, since the commissioner is looking for options other than the current system, here’s my proposal for how to overhaul the acquisition of amateur talent.

This year, teams spent about $160 million on signing their draft picks, pretty much the same as last year. Baseball as a whole spends a little less than $50 million signing international free agents every summer as well, so the current output of bonus money for those two pools of player is around $200 million per season. The revenue sharing agreement currently in place, which transfers money from big market teams to small market teams, shifts more than that around each year.

My proposal would take $200 million from the revenue sharing pool and redistribute it for the purpose of creating budgets for yearly amateur talent acquisition. The draft is eliminated all together, and instead, a worldwide unsigned player auction would be held each summer. College kids, high school kids, international kids – all of them would be eligible for open bidding, where agents could negotiate the best deal they could get for their client with any team that is interested.

Each team would be capped at spending no more than allotted through the revenue sharing pool, which would be based on a two year moving average of their ranking in winning percentage. So, for example, the $200 million could be split up like this.

Average Win% over last two years, descending order.

Teams 1-5: $2 million each
Teams 6-10: $3 million each
Teams 11-15: $5 million each
Teams 16-20: $8 million each
Teams 21-25: $10 million each
Teams 26-30: $12 million each

The top tier teams who have been winning recently would receive small sums of money that would essentially take them out of the running for the premium talents. Given that the teams that finished in the bottom half would likely be willing to bid ~60-70% of their budgets on the top guys available, the Strasburgs of the world would probably command bonuses in the $7 or $8 million range, which the winning teams would not be able to match.

By giving each team a player acquisition budget, you also open up new strategies for teams to pursue. Like the international crop a lot more than the American kids? You could sign practically everyone you want with $10 or $12 million and skip the domestic players entirely. Want to load up on the best kids from your home state? Sign them all if you want. Think your team needs an infusion of pitching immediately? Bid on college arms and college arms only.

Teams would have flexibility to pursue the types of players they wanted, which would allow for more efficient team building strategies. The system would still funnel the best players to the teams that needed help the most, while also simultaneously ensuring that a massive part of the revenue sharing money did not go into the pockets of the owners.

It would be good for the players, giving them a choice over which organization to join and letting market forces dictate their bonus money. It would be good for the owners, giving the system a fixed cost that they’ve been pursuing for years. It would be good for the front offices, allowing for more options than currently available in shaping the strategies of how players are brought into the organization. And it would be good for the fans – every single team could theoretically have a shot at signing their local star talent, encouraging enthusiasm in high school and college ball that doesn’t currently exist.

If the two-prong goals of the draft are to put a ceiling on amateur talent costs and redistribute the talent to teams that need it, this would accomplish both goals as effectively as mandatory slotting without the whole Scott-Boras-Suing-Us-Every-Year thing as he looks for reasons to blow up the draft. There would have to be details to be worked out, of course (how are major league contracts handled? Can teams roll money over from one year to the next? What do you with Japanese players?), but I think the overall structure could work really well.

Abolish the draft, set budgets for teams to sign players via a pool of money pulled from revenue sharing, and open the bidding for any player not under contract to a professional team each summer. It’s a total 180 from the direction that Selig is headed, but I think it would work.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

130 Responses to “Abolish The Draft”

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  1. Andy S says:

    I don’t think it’s right to punish teams for performing well. Something like this would reward teams like the Astros year after year for poor drafting, farm management, and in-team performance, while depriving a team like the Rays who have won by drafting very wisely of money.

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    • Richard says:

      Doesn’t the current system already “punish” teams that perform well? And I may be mistaken on this, but didn’t the Rays get a bunch of higher draft picks because they were crappy for so long?

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      • Andy S says:

        Right, but this is much more extreme. The current method allows well performing teams to still build for the future, but gives “crappier” teams an edge. What Dave Cameron is suggesting would pretty much remove front-end teams from the draft altogether (i.e. would only allow them to get much later picks).

        Additionally, if the players know about this, it’s an excuse for front-end teams to lowball talent.

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    • Steve says:

      Yeah, I don’t understand what you’re saying. This system is just like the draft except it gives everyone a little more flexibility. The real question would be how much is allotted to each team based on where they finish. I’m not a big fan of having a step function where team 25 gets $10 mil and 26 gets $12 mil.

      It’s a good starter for discussion. The MLB could be a bit more competitiveness, but the sport and playoff design are the major determinants (NBA is much less because winning teams win higher %s/lower variance, NFL much more because of one and done playoff/small sample size).

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  2. Wha whaa whaAa says:

    Selig would get lost after paragraph three.

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    • robbbbbb says:

      Selig may be a slimy used-car salesman that stole the Pilots from Seattle, but he isn’t an idiot. He’d understand the proposal quite well.

      The thing that’d hang this up is that Selig has shown a propensity for incremental changes instead of dramatic reform. He got soundly beaten on radical realignment, realizing only too late that he’d over-reached. Since then, he’s shown a propensity for only modest and incremental reforms in baseball.

      This is a great idea, but it’s a pretty major upheaval that would take serious work and political capital to accomplish. I think the biggest obstruction would be large-market teams that want to spend dollars on player acquisition, like the Yankees and the Tigers. This is exactly the ownership faction that Selig has the least amount of clout with. That’s the practical objection right there: Steinbrenner and Reinsdorf are going to jump up and down about financing other teams’ player development systems.

      (An aside: I was at the ’01 All-Star Game in Seattle. Selig was roundly booed when he brought the game to a halt in the fifth to honor Cal Ripken, Jr. What was he thinking? One, it’s the middle of the game. Two, he’s a terrible public speaker. Three, and most important, the man is hated in Seattle for abducting the Pilots. How could he think he’d get a good reception?)

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      • wobatus says:

        How did Selig abduct the Pilots? From what I understand he bought them at a bankruptcy court auction. Which is how Angelos got the Orioles too, albeit he kept them in Baltimore.

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    • PhD Brian says:

      Selid is actually one of the twenty smartest men on earth in terms of IQ. His motivations just differ than you, and few actually understand the man.

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  3. the artist formerly known as (sic) says:

    “The commissioner has continually seen the draft as a place to reduce labor costs for the owners, and the MLBPA is more agreeable to bargaining away the rights of non-union members than making concessions that effect players already in the union.”

    that AFFECT. :)

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  4. Bigmouth says:

    Fascinating…reminds me of the food auctions on Survivor.

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  5. nycreds says:

    The only concern I’d have with this system (which otherwise seems really logical) is that it would put more power in 18 year old’s hands. If they can sign with anyone, what’s to stop them from rejecting 4 million from the Royals and accepting 1.5 million from the Red Sox? I know most kids wouldn’t do this, but I’m sure something like that would happen every year and the teams with cache value would still have an advantage over the Pirates, Orioles, etc.

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    • Richard says:

      I was wondering the same thing. Would the player be forced to go to the highest bidder (or sit out a year like in the current system)?

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    • Dai says:

      They wouldn’t do it because big time prospects have an interest in getting to the majors, getting playing time and making more money after they perform well. If the Red Sox get all the CFs (or whatever), then some MLB-caliber players lose out on the chance to maximize their earning potential in virtue of a lopsided talent distribution.

      Rationally, these players would be better off taking a smaller initial contract with a team more likely to get them into the majors quickly, and hence into a position to maximize their career earnings.

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      • Paul Thomas says:

        Why do you assume they would behave rationally?

        Seriously. Why? Running backs take scholarship offers to sit buried 6th on the depth chart at USC instead of starting at other BCS conference schools. That’s not “rational,” either.

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      • B says:

        Yeah, but how many good runningback prospects are there every year and how many of them decide to go to USC? It’s still a pretty small percentage that do that. I think the best evidence of what would happen is free agency – good teams and desireable destinations obviously have an advantage but money is a huge factor in where a player ends up.

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  6. themarksmith says:

    Interesting idea, but even your idea hurts market value. Strasburg still doesn’t receive what he would out on the open market. Actually, this probably hurts his value even more — the $12million doesn’t cover his bonus. However, they do get to choose their teams, so they might be willing to take less from their favorite/hometown teams. That would also potentially help the bigger market teams as well. If you really like the Yankees, maybe you’ll take a lot less to make sure you go there. Seems like a pretty good idea to me.

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  7. Davidceisen says:

    I’m not sure I understand how this would work. There would be thousands of players available each ‘draft’ (or whatever you want to call it), so teams would have to simultaneously negotiate with hundreds of players that are also getting competing offers from other teams. And how would incentives work? It seems like these contracts would have to be extremely bare-boned, so that they are easily comparable. Could a team sign a player to a one year deal with the promise of signing them to a large deal the year after?

    This seems like a giant headache for teams.

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    • Robin says:

      This seems to me to be the biggest concern. Structured contracts would almost have to be implemented to keep clubs from cheating the system AND to keep the teams negotiations departments (or whatever they are called) from expanding exponentially… and then we are back to talking about structured contracts.

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    • Boxkutter says:

      Exactly…. this idea has just as many loopholes as the current system does, so there is no reason to change it when it won’t make a difference. A hard slotting system right now is the best system that won’t involve a lot of changes. That along with a worldwide draft. These two changes will prevent kids from raising their bonus demands to a point where only the richer teams can sign them (ie Weaver and Porcello) and also keep the international FA signings well balanced instead of most of the top Asian players going to LA/SEA/NY/BOS and the latin kids going to the top bidders.

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      • Robin says:

        Well, to be fair. This is just a suggestion for a possible route to explore. Dave is not presenting a fully fleshed out replacement system. I think this *concept* has a lot of merit, but the details would have to be worked out in such a way that it can actually achieve the goals it seems to be setting for itself.

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      • Davidceisen says:

        Maybe this type of system could work for the top 100 players entering the draft. Somehow the top 100 players would have to be determined, but MLB has this done for Type A and B free agents. Teams could have a month to sign these players, then there is a draft (with a hard slotting system) of who ever isn’t signed and all other players as well.

        This addresses the concerns of the ‘top’ players getting comparatively market rates and having some choice in where they go. Unfortunately most players wouldn’t get this benefit, but often less talented people don’t have as much choice as the most talented.

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    • daniel says:

      How about this:

      Every contract is a fixed length and fixed yearly wage, say four years at whatever the league minimum is. After that contract is up, the player is Rule 5 eligible. So then the only difference in contracts between Stephen Strasberg and Joey Nobody is the bonus. Much simpler.

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  8. Beau says:

    My thoughts exactly, if the players ultimately got to choose what is to stop them from all going to winning teams? Obviously money, and I suppose that this isnt very different from free agency, and Dunn signed with the Nats for a reason ($$). Another point is that by signing with lesser teams, young players might see a better opportunity for playing time sooner.

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    • Jon K says:

      Players want to play. Are you more likely to be blocked by a quality major leaguer on the Yankees or Pirates? Seems like the wise choice would be to get on the fast track to the majors.

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  9. Matt says:

    This is a fantastic idea.

    Responding to everyone who is concerned about players signing with the good teams — a few might do that, but for the most part kids are going to go where the money is.

    Choice is another reason you have to give the teams that do poorly more money. They’re simply less attractive in the first place.

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  10. John C says:

    I agree with the basic theme of this post-eliminate the draft; the net effect of drafts is to take money from talent and place it into the owners’ pockets. What I don’t like is any system that prevents or provides obstacles to the efforts of consistently good teams remaining competitive. Efforts to control the flow of labor in the given FA system fails; ultimately, the best talent ends up where it should have gone in the first place–to the best teams at (usually) very high prices. Something definitely needs to be done with the current system; a very interesting topic indeed.

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    • Paul Thomas says:

      So, you’re a Yankees fan then. Or maybe Manchester United?

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      • John C says:

        ?

        Why support a system that rewards failure? The point of sports is to win, not to ensure everybody goes home with a trophy. Leave that mentality for youth soccer.

        The real problem is too few top level players for the amount of teams. Either reduce the number of teams to around 6-which economic forces are trying to make happen-or just evenly distribute the best talent to all the teams. Then keep repeating the process for each level of talent until all rosters are full. Isn’t that what we’re really talking about? Who really wants that?

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      • Paul Thomas says:

        Why do you assume that losing teams are “failures”?

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    • Tom says:

      Why reward the Yankees for having a bigger city than everyone else? They already get to use other teams such Kansas City as AAAA Teams cherry picking the prospects who have used up those teams scouting and minor league system resources.

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  11. Mike B. says:

    I don’t know about this concept. It’s too logical, and logic scares me.

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  12. Casey says:

    The choice provided to these young players over which team they want to join could accelerate talent disparities down the road.

    For example, NYY/NYM have more fans than other AL/NL teams. It would seem to follow that more young players would be fans of those teams, and value their fandom when considering offers from organizations, even if it means accepting lower money. A form of destination disparity exists already with FA players shunning historically poor performing/small market teams and choosing bigger market/budget teams, and is, I believe, a relevant example in evaluating how this type of systme could play out long term.

    As a free agent bidding example, it was known/accepted that the Nationals would have to overpay for Teixeira (compared to BOS for example) to sign him. This could potentially also happen with a FYPD-FA system. I suppose the caveat with this example though is that the Yankees still overpaid for Teixeira.

    However, the main point is that giving first year players a choice would not necessarily improve competitive balance–even with a salary cap.

    Unfortunately, I think you have to treat the talent strictly as an asset to be distributed (i.e. by a draft) to acheive competitive balance. That means removing player freedoms as well.

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    • Joe says:

      Casey, that might happen occasionally, but not often.

      It’s easy for Texeira to walk away from the Nats’ $180M offer to sign with the Yanks for $160M since he’s already earned about $40M in his career prior to becoming a free agent.

      Will kid out of college, who’s been living on creatine and Ramen noodles for 4 years take a $1.5M offer from the Yanks over a $4M offer from Pittsburgh? I doubt it. A HS kid who still lives with his parents? Probably not.

      It might be a factor occasionally, especially if the money is close (maybe he’ll take $1.5M from the Yanks instead of $2M from Cincinnati), but isn’t that part of what’s GOOD about this idea? To give kids the ability to choose their employer?

      If a kid’s lifelong dream was to play for the Yankees, then he’ll get his chance when he becomes a free agent.

      Or, another option, is for teams like Pittsburgh and Cincy to create a culture of winning that breeds a large fan base. I don’t know if that would work, but the Cardinals have a HUGE fanbase, and they are in one of the smallest markets in sports.

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      • Casey says:

        Joe,

        I’m going to have to disagree with you on a couple points.

        First I don’t think FA players make decisions on what team to choose based on how much money they’ve already made in their careers. I believe FA markets have demonstrated fairly clearly that winning has as much to do their contract decisions as does money. Considered Vlad spurning Baltimore and Tex with Washington. Both had offered more dollars, but the player chose the competitive team. Players want playoffs. And money.

        I’m not going to speculate on all the scenarios in which a prospect will be bid upon. But I find you example unlikely. Compared to normal player free agency, rarely is one team outbidding another for a players services by over 250%. Granted $2.5M is small bills in baseball dollars, but we’re being speculative in the extreme when talking about bidding scenarios.

        It’s worth noting, however, a player who signs with a large payroll team also has more a chance of getting offered a big contract in the future by that same organization if he performs well. Thus that player is more likely to be offered more guaranteed dollars over his contract-controlled years.

        As I said before, I DON’T think kids getting to choose their employer is good for MLB. From my understanding, the objective of the draft is to help institute competitive balance, not make sure everyone is happy. My argument is that this type of system would be destructive to competitive balance.

        In view of this, it makes your last point a catch 22. How does one rejuvenate an uncompetitive team with a small budget when one of their most effective instruments (acquiring young players with upside) is no longer cost effective and they must outbid more favorable (competitive) teams by overpaying on the young talent?

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      • NadavT says:

        Your question is answered in Dave’s post. How do you help uncompetitive teams outbid competitive teams? By giving them a budget that’s six times as large ($12M vs. $2M).

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      • PhD Brian says:

        you are wrong. If a players dream is to be a World Series hero or a hall of famer he signs with the Yankees for 1.5 Million and does everything in his power to play for only them. By signing with the pirates a player can legitimately feel his dream is gone considering recent history. The Yankees have won roughly 1 out of every 4 WS ever played. The Pirates last won in 1979? Without WS games it is very hard to make the HOF. Plus, it is obvious the Yankees pay more in the long term than the Pirates, so you might take a short hit signing with the Yankees but over the long term your likely to be payed better. Rationally its a good move to take less from the Yankees to sign rather than the Pirates!

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      • Wally says:

        But why not take more money from the Pirates now and then move on to sign with the Yankees later? I have a hard to believing 18-22 year old kids, that may hardly have a dime to their name, will give up 2-10 million dollars just to be in the Yankee organization. Maybe a few will, but I wouldn’t really worry about this as a system wide problem. I’m sure some players will give up a few million to stay with the local team, located near his family, too.

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      • Casey says:

        NadavT: I realize that Dave addresses my point by redistributing the profit sharing inversely to performance. However, my opinion is that the young players have too much leverage already in negotiating through draft selection. I consider smaller budget teams skipping certain players, or failing to sign players Allowing the first-year player to also choose where he wants to play creates a greater imbalance. This will ultimately cause the market-driven bonuses to accelerate faster year-to-year as teams become more desperate to improve, yet negotiate with less power.

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  13. B says:

    I love this idea. I’d like to raise the overall spending pool substantially to more accurately reflect true market values, though I understand you’re trying to be realistic Dave and give the owners something they’d actually want, so I get where you’re coming from. I also think the splits from best to worst teams are a bit dramatic – the spread needs to be reduced (especially since an extr $2M is a substantial amount and it could cause teams to try to lose at the end to move down a tier or two, which could affect playoff races and such).

    As for suggestions that players will just go to the haves – I don’t see it. Kids will follow the money, first of all, and it could also be in a prospects best interest to find a team that has a need, both in the majors and throughout their minors, for said prospects position. Of course some of this going to the best team stuff might happen, but I don’t see it being often enough to have any meaningful effect.

    All in all great proposal, Dave.

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    • AMusingFool says:

      There’s some interesting ideas in here. But let’s deal with one major problem, then come back to the smaller issues:

      This will kill international development academies, which is the major pipeline for developing talent in Latin America.

      Some smaller issues: the money needs to adjust annually (some sort of escalator), this would be a logistic nightmare (for the players as well as for the teams).

      What I like: takes money from revenue sharing. The nightmare side of it from the player’s perspective would likely result in a demand for more agents. Given that this would result in fewer players represented by Boras, I call this a net win.

      I also liked the comment suggestion of a standard contract with the difference being the bonus paid out.

      And I agree with the comment that the money distribution function needs to be smoother than described.

      Something definitely needs to be done, though, and this is an interesting conversation on it.

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  14. Why is capping the cost of amateur signings a goal we want to achieve? I understand it’s a goal the owners want to acheive, but not one that I support.

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    • Andrew says:

      If you are a fan of a team that works on a budget (ie not the Yanks or the Sox), you should at least hope that the ridiculous numbers being asked for and given in recent years don’t stay the norm.

      I’m an O’s fan and watched with interest the Strasburg situation. The $50 million number was space-money talk from Boras, but fans of the team had to legitmately wonder. He signed for $15.1 mil and has yet to throw a single pitch against pro hitters. It was a MLB deal, which comes with higher base salaries and the like. Also, baseball players as individuals have a lesser impact on the W/L than their NBA/NFL counterparts, why should one team give in to the demands of a player who just gets to go back into the draft a year later?

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  15. Ed Nelson says:

    Very original thinking. By far the most interesting proposal I have heard on the issue. Great stuff.

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  16. bikozu says:

    Fantastic idea. Much more interesting than hard-slotting.

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  17. Jon says:

    I can understand this move. Bud Selig has to do something to protect his return on the steroids investment. Increasing bonsues are dipping into that, and that’s a no-no!!!

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  18. Teej says:

    I believe someone mentioned the idea of an auction in the comments a couple of days ago, and I was intrigued. I like the idea, though I do have reservations about limiting any team to $2 million a year in first-year-player acquisitions.

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    • Andrew says:

      There are dozens of rounds to the MLB draft and the O’s just spent $8.1 million on talent this year, WAY over-slot for the players they picked.

      If the Yankees can’t convince a kid to take a discount to play in pinstripes, well then so be it. They can live on $2 mil, they just have to spend wisely.

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  19. big baby says:

    this is absolutely preposterous.

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  20. Dean says:

    I LOVE this idea, but with one caveat. Why not give each team the same amount of amateur signing dollars every year, irrespective of their record? That way, the wins go to the smartest team. Period.

    Let the dollars roll over in an escrow account, so that a team can lay out for a few years on a big draft class. That would allow a team like the Pirates to hoard their dollars and flood their system with talent over a 2-3 year span. It would open a window of contention when that talent hits the majors as a group.

    It could actually increase parity, since teams that are perennial signers of Big Name Free Agents need deep systems every year. They would be “poor” relative to teams that were willing to tank out a couple years to re-build.

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    • big baby says:

      yes, the notion that good teams get a fraction to spend that bad teams get is crazy.

      this is more palatable.

      punishing teams that do well by crippling their ability to get young talent is insane.

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    • Paul Thomas says:

      That way the wins go to the smartest team? Period?

      Are you banning free agency? If not, the wins are going to go to the teams that are already winning. You might as well just abandon the “budget” entirely and let teams sign whoever they want to. And then you have the English Premier League, where the same 3 teams win every damn season.

      I love libertarians… they’re so completely blind to reality. A thread like this is sure to bring the wing-nuts out of the framework.

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  21. Joe says:

    This is intriguing. I have three responses:

    1) This would show us exactly how risky ownership considers amateur arms. If you have $10M to spend, will you blow your load on a Strasburg, or will you spread it around to 4-5 other very good talents, or 2 good talents and 25 “tools” guys?

    2) Either this isn’t enough money, or Dave’s proposal for distributing money to teams is too disproportionate. My counterproposal would be to keep Dave’s money guidelines similar to what he has listed, but to allow teams to add 25-50% to that amount. So, Pittsburgh will be given $12M from the revenue sharing pool, but if they want to contribute their own money, they will be able to spend $15-18M that year on amateur talent acquisition. This will separate the men (teams willing to spend their own money) from the boys (those that only suck at the teat of the other owners).

    3) A major flaw is that all the teams that receive revenue sharing right now would basically be told exactly how to spend it (amateur talent aquisition vs improved equipment/coaching/facilities). Not sure how well that would go over.

    All in all, I really like this idea. I feel bad for draftees, being forced to decide sign with a team or sit out for a year. This would address that, while not forcing the second-division teams to settle for lesser talents that an amateur-free-agent-free-for-all would force upon them.

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    • Michael says:

      Love the idea of being able to add a certain amount more to the free agent pool. Combining it with potentially being able to hold out a few years and utilize that money over time and it would be a very interesting system indeed.

      I think Dave’s idea, though it certainly needs refinement, is a good middle ground between amateur free agency and the fears of big market teams taking away one of the few advantages left to smaller market clubs (young, cheap talent) and a current draft system that, at the heart of it, is a good deal unfair for draftees.

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    • daniel says:

      Agree on allowing a team to add money from its own revenue. Brilliant addition to a brilliant system.

      But I also think that the proposed distribution of money is far too skewed. I don’t see why every team can’t receive the same amount in revenue sharing. 200mil/30 teams is 6.66 million per team, which is certainly a decent amount and has the benefit of keeping bonuses from going unnaturally high.

      This is fair to the players, who can pick any team they want, fair to the owners, who won’t be under as much pressure to spend to sign amateurs, and fair to the league, which will see every team with the ability to sign premium talent.

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      • Rob in CT says:

        I’ll third that suggestion. I think Dave’s distribution of the money is a tad harsh as is, but the general idea is sound. Just let teams invest some extra if they want, and make the caps a bit higher. Also, I’m not sure it should be done via groups of 5. I’d rather see different numbers for each and every team. That way it would reduce the incentive for a team to try and finish in the “right” group to get a ton more money (instead of slightly more money). I know that this problem basically exists today w/the draft pick system and that teams apparently don’t really abuse it, but I think it’s still a valid concern.

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  22. Xeifrank says:

    So basically these kids would be free agents. Something all other major leaguers have to wait six years of service time for. I don’t think the the players in the union would go for this.

    And unless I am not understanding something this is going to be a giant “cluster f-” with thousands of “auctions” going on at the same time. The player bidding process would be a logistical nightmare and probably take months and months of non stop work to complete.

    I vote “no” for now.

    vr, Xei

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  23. J-Gao says:

    Seems a little too harsh on winning teams. $2-$3 million barely gets them a first rounder.
    My proposal would be:
    Keep the current draft system. It balances the advantages and disadvantages for the losing and winning teams without completely penalizing winners.
    From what I see, the only huge problem is the large salaries.
    That’s why I think two things should be instituted:
    1. If a player doesn’t sign a deal after being drafted, he has to skip one eligible year to be drafted. So a junior would have to wait two years, his senior year and one more. A normal aged high schooler would have to wait until his senior year, as his first eligible year would be his junior year. Older ones can be re-drafted junior year after being sophomores. This would greatly decrease the leverage, and thus, bonuses, of the players. Waiting two years is too much money and too much risk for a guy like Strasburg to accept.
    2. If we take that much leverage away from the player, though, the teams could pretty much control the system. However, to make things fair, the compensation for not signing a player would be lower. For not signing a first rounder, only a third round pick is given as compensation, for a second rounder, a fourth is given, and on and on until the sixth round pick when no more compensation is given. Also, to make things fair to the late round draftees, the team also will lose if they don’t sign a player by being forced to give up the suggested slotting bonus to MLB. So if they fail to sign a 10th rounder, they will be penalized for what ever the slotting bonus is. If they fail to sign a first rounder, they get pick in next year’s third round and must pay the millions of dollars to the MLB.
    To make sure that teams don’t lose too much money to this system, the draft would be reduced to maybe 30-40 rounds and the other players eligible to be signed as free agents.
    The biggest problem I see, though, is that highly talented, toolsy, but risky plaeyrs looking for a lot of money like a Matt Purke will lose a ton. But that’s why they should be looking for less money.
    Lengthy post, but what do you think?

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  24. daniel says:

    This is the best post EVER on FanGraphs. And that’s saying a lot.

    The only thing is, I’m not so crazy about the percentages you’ve stated based on win-loss record. I mean, just $2mil for teams that perform well? It’s got to be a little bit more even, but I’m fine with giving the bad teams a little boost. But this is an incredible idea, and a much better version of something I’ve been trying to figure out for a while.

    Fingers crossed that someday baseball has a commissioner than will make something like this happen.

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  25. John says:

    Nice idea. I’d prefer a slightly tweaked version with a 2 phase draft, a blind auction first phase and a regular draft second phase. Limit the number of blind auction bids by payroll spend and have a rolling 2 – 5 year draft budget (can only spend x dollars during any y year span, possibly the budget could have a tie in to payrolls but probably not). Any players selected by blind bid can either sign with that team at the bid price or go to the phase 2 draft. Any players that do not have a blind bid go into the regular draft. Would allow for the top amateurs to have a relatively open market to get closer to their market value, teams would need to figure which players to target, which amount would “win, and for 2 to 3rd round talents, what bid price they’d need to bid to actually get them to sign. Certainly the number of bids and budgets would be difficult to arrive at via negotiations between the owners and players but would be a cool system. Thanks for getting the ball rolling Dave.

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  26. MerryGoByeBye says:

    This doesn’t work because scouting in baseball isn’t as exact as it is in football or basketball. Say, I’m a pitcher and two teams call me in draft day. One is willing to throw me a large bonus because they think I’m good, the other not so much. You really wanna take this freedom from the teams and the players?

    Sure, the NFL is more fair than the MLB, but they’re boring as hell. Premium talent should be paid as premium talent, and any team can build like that if they set that goal. Look at the Rays, or the O’s in a few years. Scouting, drafting, good trades and stuff like that make a team competitive. The system should not have anything to do with that.

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  27. John says:

    regarding my post above, have the budget tie to number of bids in that year. Something like this:

    Teams 1-5: 10 bids, $20 million total 5 year spend
    Teams 6-10: 15 bids, $30 million total 5 year spend
    etc.

    Base number of bids on winning % and not payroll spend like I mentioned previously.
    The 5 year spend would change each year based on winning % or a combination of payroll and winning %.

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  28. JH says:

    My concern with opening things up to the free market is protection for international free agents. A worldwide draft will pave the way for uniform standards that can really do a lot to help the process for Latin American talent. Bonuses may be down, but hopefully the practice of agents taking 30-40% of signing bonuses of their international clients will have to be regulated away as well.

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  29. Diaz says:

    Sorry if this was already mentioned, but this cap is it only the singing bonus? If these caps mean the yankees only can bid a 2 million singing bonus for Chapman next year, what is to stop them from then offering him a 5 year 80 million dollar contract? (ok that is a bit of a hyperbole) If the cap is supposed to cover the singing bonus and then the contract then either these super elite talents (Chapman, Darvish, Strasburg) will only sing for very short money (1 maybe 2 years) and then be out there for the highest bidder. If they are forced to sign for only for that max and are expected to stay with the clubs for the length of time current draftees are then all this elite talent may decide to play in Japan or sit out.

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  30. Brian says:

    I like it. I don’t think I’d give the crappy teams 6X more than the elite teams… maybe 3X more. The Strasburg money is at least coming out of the Nationals internal budget.

    As for players willing to play for a discount, I could see that being a problem. An elite talent could easily make up a lot of money in missed signing bonus with a NY contract and the exposure, etc that would go with it. I’d say if a player agrees to a bonus, any other team gets 24 hours to offer, say, a 10% premium or more. The player chooses from amongst the teams that are offering 10% more, then that new bonus becomes the new benchmark for the next 24 hours. The original team can be amongst the teams offering the extra 10%. So if they player is truly worth a $2M bonus, and he agrees with the Yankees for $1.2M, it will eventually get bid up to around $2M with the Yankees still able to get the player if they so desire.

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    • Paul Thomas says:

      You don’t seem to understand. He’s eliminating revenue sharing. The money is already coming out of the “internal budgets” of the teams with below-average yearly incomes.

      For instance, if the Yankees get $2M out of this, it’s a pure windfall, because right now they’re getting zero dollars from revenue sharing.

      The stated plan gives more money to big-market teams and less money to small-market teams. Amazingly, there are STILL people claiming that it’s unfair to big-market teams. I guess you just can’t win with some folks.

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      • kwk says:

        I don’t think you understand. Revenue sharing money would be put into a pool and distributed, according to win/loss record (not financial standing), for use towards “new talent” free agents.The Yankees, assuming they were in the top 5 teams, would make their normal, massive revenue sharing payment and get $2 million back (which they normally wouldn’t have received), but their draft spending is capped. Of course the Yankees now spend much more than $2 million on international signings and the draft, so they are, in effect, prevented from signing the top new players.

        The plan does not end revenue sharing, but instead of distributing money to the small market/poor teams, the money is allocated (mostly) to the bad teams so they can sign the best new talent.

        Stop being so condescending.

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      • Paul Thomas says:

        I guess it depends on how much of a return on investment you view amateur talent as having. If it’s enough so that the opportunity cost of being unable to buy more than $2M worth of amateurs cancels out the extra money that the big-market teams are receiving, then it’s a net win for small market teams.

        I could see that being true, sure.

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  31. Jacob Jackson says:

    An inspired idea. Very thought-provoking, Dave.

    Having read each of the comments I wholeheartedly agree with the (minority) who believe this will be too much of a logistical nightmare to ever be feasible.

    We’re talking about a player pool of thousands, and a team would have to have ongoing negotiations with over 100 guys. And EVERY negotiation is inter-related, because the team needs a decision from Player X before they know if they have enough money to sign player Y.

    The only thing I can offer that hasn’t been mentioned in the previous 45 comments is actually something that’s pretty darn important: corruption.

    The baseball draft, even domestically, would make the college basketball landscape look ethical by comparison. Can you even IMAGINE how many under-the-table deals would be offered? And who would police it? Would MLB need to create a new dogwatching agency for this? How much manpower would be required to police the draft of actions of 30 teams, all of which are in negotiations with over 100 players every year?

    This just isn’t feasible, man. It’s cool…but isn’t feasible.

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    • daniel says:

      But it is feasible.

      Realistically, there are only about 50 top tier guys that a lot of teams would bid on, then 100 or so that would see interest from multiple teams, and the rest would just be happy to be offered a contract. Just like there are only a few guys that are in the running for being a 1-3 round pick in the draft, and the rest are basically just happy to be drafted.

      And yes, it can work. See: international club soccer. No draft system whatsoever. It’s the most popular sport in the world; they must be doing something right. (And yes, I know soccer has a problem with competitive imbalance. But that’s where the whole revenue sharing part of Dave’s proposed system comes in.)

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      • Jacob Jackson says:

        “Just like there are only a few guys that are in the running for being a 1-3 round pick in the draft, and the rest are basically just happy to be drafted.”

        -This just isn’t true. Hundreds of high school kids get drafted every year and make the choice to go to college. With all due respect, I don’t think you’re fully seeing how complicated this would be in practice.

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      • Paul Thomas says:

        I’m sorry, but you appear to have misunderstood the original post. The dollars for amateur signing are being TAKEN OUT OF THE REVENUE SHARING POOL. They are no longer being distributed by team income– instead, they are being distributed by team win-loss record.

        Every dollar the Yankees get out of this system– and they’re guaranteed at least $2M– is a dollar they didn’t have before. Ditto the Red Sox, Angels, Mariners, Mets, etc. Every one of those dollars used to go to a Cincinnati, or an Oakland, or a Tampa Bay and is now being kept by the big-market teams. The stated plan would unequivocally result in LESS revenue sharing than is currently engaged in– and that’s in a sport where teams with big budgets already have enormous, ridiculous advantages over other teams. It would just make it that much worse.

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      • NadavT says:

        Paul, I think you’re missing the big picture on revenue sharing here. Yes, the Yankees will get $2M back that would otherwise have gone to other teams, but they’ll also be restricted in the amount that they can spend on acquiring new talent. So maybe that frees up more cash that they can throw at Teixeira and A-Rod types, but their ability to acquire premium talent is seriously restricted. As many teams have shown, stockpiling cheap, young talent can make a low-budget team just as competitive as a big-budget team.

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      • Wally says:

        I have to agree that this system seems too huge to implement. But if you are going to do it this way and you’re worried about too little revenue sharing, just up the total amount of revenue sharing taking place. Then if the Yankees are forced to pay in say 30% more in revenue sharing, then that more than makes up for the 2 million, or so, that they might back. You could maybe just create an entirely new fund, say the MLB draft budget (?), with a sliding scale of inputs based on a 3 year average total revenue or maybe payroll or both. So a team like Oakland maybe only puts in 4 million, but the Yankees put in 40?

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      • Paul Thomas says:

        Works for me. I’m strongly inclined toward the “equal resources, free use of those resources” standpoint anyway.

        The problem is, the people whose resources are “more equal than others” (the Yankees/Sox/Angels, in this case) tend not to want a level playing field…

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  32. John says:

    No way to handle all the auction negotiations so it would need to be a blind auction.

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  33. 50PoundHead says:

    Really great and thought-provoking post and some really interesting responses. I believe we are going to see a much shorter draft in a couple of years (maybe 30 rounds) and it will likely include international players. Major League Baseball may need to pay the Japanese Leagues a gazillion and change to prohibit “bargaining rights” and do some other things to protect Japanese and Korean baseball to get an international draft and that would be a challenge.

    J-Gao, like your suggestions, but my main suggestion goes a different way. I think teams should be able to draft a high school kid and retain rights for a given period of time (probably two years) in the event they don’t sign. Maybe this provision applies to a limited set of players for each team with an overall cap on the number of years they could “bank.”

    For instance, Donovan Tate is in high school. Somebody drafts him and retains his rights even though he doesn’t sign. Tate goes to UNC and does the two-sport thing. Team continues to monitor Tate and either attempts to sign him after each season or toss him back into the draft-eligible pool early to protect negotiating rights with someone else.

    I’m guessing that we only need 30 rounds. 75% of the guys in A ball are roster-filler and most of those guys are interchangeable between draftees and free agents (both international and American undrafted).

    Something will happen. I just don’t know what it is, but I think Dave Cameron’s article brings some great perspectives to the discussion.

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  34. Diaz says:

    Daniel, developing talent in International Club Football (sorry I refuse to call it soccer- and if that makes me kind of dickish so be it) is completely different than in baseball. Clubs take kids aged 6 and up and mold them to become world class players. Rarely do these players leave on Bossman Transfers (Free Agency). They are most often times sold for enormous sums of money from one team to another. Almost Never do these kids just pop out and are there for the highest bidder. And when it does it is durring their formative years as a footballer. IE Andres Iniesta when he decided to join Barcelona’s youth setup over Real Madrid’s at the age of 13!!!!!

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  35. Diaz says:

    Also if we are to include all domestic High School and College players, and then on-top of that add on all IFA’s there would be a hella of a lot more than just 50 players who every team would be interested in.

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  36. Big Steve says:

    Very impressive… a new idea… at least one I haven’t heard.

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  37. Ray says:

    First off, I think that this is an awesome idea, that, even if not executable due to it being ‘radical,’ represents the creativity that baseball overall lacks.

    In reading the responses, I have yet to hear someone mention the distinct possibility for a top prospect to go over to Japan to play a year and earn free agent eligibility. We have heard of basketball prospects doing the same, in going to Europe and skip the one year in the college game.

    I suggest that the prospect must have residence of 10-15 years in Asia, effectively allowing the 20-30 something pros in the Japan game to enter the MLB as a free agent, and restricting a Brandon Jennings/Bryce Harper move and take a loophole.

    Also what would happen to the lesser prospects? Sure some of them would sign, but teams would be allocating their budgets for the quality over quantity. I’m sure that some teams would go with a couple med-big prospects, and fill up their rosters, but its just a thought.

    Also, what would the re-precautions be on the college game? HS kids would be much more likely to skip the college game after they get a better gauge over their market value. Since there is no cut-off day like the NFL to either stay or go, the HS kids would either take the money, or not.

    More than likely, they would take the money. This happens now to some extent with players more likely jumping to college being drafted later, then a team throws money in the kid’s face and he signs.

    Just some thoughts. When I first read the idea on DRaysBay, I thought it was terrible. The details and specification of those details are thought provoking and amazing.

    Great article

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Japan has a nine- or ten-year reserve clause. I don’t see them waiving it so Americans can use their league as a bargaining chip.

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  38. Grant says:

    What’s to stop large market teams from luring the top talents to their organizations by promising them a much larger contract while their cost-controlled? This is exactly what I would do if I were a large market team in this system. The Yankees could make up the $6 million dollar difference between their offer and the Pirates’ one by giving the kid an extra $6 million on his first contract.

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  39. Doug Melvin says:

    So instead of “bargaining away the rights of non-union members”, you want to want to put a hammer down on the chances of a team trying to sustain success. Robbing from Peter to pay Paul, aye?

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    • B says:

      “Robbing from Peter to pay Paul, aye?”

      Well, if it’s “robbing”, that implies the system wasn’t rigged in Peter’s favor to begin with…

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  40. NadavT says:

    Great idea, Dave, and I think the comments here illustrate how delicately any system has to thread the needle between many conflicting priorities:

    1) Young players should have more freedom than the current draft system allows them — but letting players choose teams would make all prospects choose to play for the Yankees!

    2) Player acquisition budgets should be controlled to ease owners’ worries about escalating costs — but paying top prospects sub-market prices is unfair!

    3) To ensure competitive balance, losing teams should be given an advantage in player acquisition, relative to winning teams — but you’re punishing success! Robbing Peter to pay Paul!

    No solution is going to satisfy everybody, but this one at least has an elegant regulated market-type approach.

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  41. PhD Brian says:

    I do not hate this idea, but I think it would be better if you just gave the teams more control over their draft picks in the future. And I love the Worldwide draft. I think all the problems come from the fact that if you draft a guy and not sign him, then you lose. Not everything, thanks to the next draft, but still lose. Since bad teams tend to be poorer and top picks tend to be more expensive this is really though system on bad teams. Rationally, players do not want to play for bad teams, so they will demand more if drafted by a bad team than a good team. They also demand more because they are better players. etc. anyway, if a team that drafts a player was able to hold the right to be the only team able to sign the guy until the guy was 23, then that would help fix the problem. Teams would have to be charged a fee to hold rights on guys though to prevent the abuse (like 10k) of drafting huge number of guys and hoping some pay off.

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  42. PhD Brian says:

    Another radical idea is to have every future draft pick declare prior to the draft what they are willing to be paid that guarantees that they sign (Dutch auction would be useful). Use a contract with the league or “draft” them to the league. Players would have no choice but to play if they entered a value and it was met. Then teams just draft contracts from the league. Poor teams would get some contracts free from the revenue sharing budgets. This would get rid of the premium bad teams have to play for players, or at least averages it across all teams.

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    • Ray says:

      didnt strausburg and boras say that they wanted 30-40 million before the draft?

      how’d that work out?

      If every prospect declared their mandatory asking price, nobody would be signed

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      • djw says:

        Exactly. And good players would stop playing for major league baseball. That makes perfect sense.

        All kinds of negotiations involve a lot of bluster and bluffing.

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  43. kwk says:

    Put me down as one of the “blind to reality” libertarians. If there are people who want to pay Stephen Strasburg $50 million right now, he should be able to make $50 million right now. All new players should be free agents from the moment they are ready to go pro.

    Worried about big market teams becoming even stronger? Answer: Expansion. Ignore spoiled owners’ whines and put another team or two in New York. The Yankees and Mets hold a duopoly in a huge market that needs more competition. “Legacy” teams would still have their armies of fans, but it would take a substantial bite out of their fat pockets. Repeat where necessary.

    I’m just really uncomfortable with the ageism in sports that is allowed for the sake of parity. I would bet that many people would view things differently if they were the ones making a third of what they deserve.

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    • rebecca says:

      That is insane. Expansion teams barely have a chance in new cities starving for a team to identify themselves with… It would take way longer in a city like New York, where anyone remotely interested in baseball have history and emotional investment in their team already.

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      • Eric says:

        I dunno, if you started another NY team right now with the slogan “we’re hiring a GM that isn’t Omar Minaya!” you could probably get 70% of Mets fans to follow

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      • kwk says:

        I totally understand what you are saying. Of course this will never happen. But what’s insane is that Kansas City has about 2 million people in its metro area, and New York has 20 million people (split among two teams) and Kansas City is supposed to compete financially with the Yankees. (Not to mention the difference in average income between the two areas.)

        Also, remember that the Mets and Angels were expansion franchises.

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    • Typical Idiot Fan says:

      Ah.. the Zumsteig plan.

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    • eric says:

      I completely agree, and this has the potential for being a much more elegant solution. By protecting monopolies (or duopolies) of major markets, MLB has to create all sorts of systems and regulations to keep things competitive and it never makes everyone happy. If they allowed true competition, I’m sure some creative entrepreneurs could start teams in NY (or move existing teams there), and eventually cut into the Yankees revenue (although I agree that it would take some time).

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  44. TJ says:

    i think its a GREAT idea, but i would probably say the best team and the worst team are spread too far apart and weather 2 mill could adequatly sign the 35-45 players required to keep a farm system full and that budgets this small would prevent the diamonds in the rough from being signed (i.e. marcus thames who was a 39th rounder) i would say 7-14mil 1st to last would be more adaquate. it would also need a player minimum salary.

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  45. wayne says:

    another idea great idea to add to this is to not calling it money but rather “drafting credits” each equal to 1 dollar which is only spendable on the draft. These credits could be made tradeable to help teams maintain success (e.x. trade jonny damon for 2.5 million drafting credits)

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  46. rebecca says:

    I love just about every angle of this idea, but the example structure seems way too extreme. If the best teams got 60% of what the worst teams get, this idea could really fly. That would give the small market teams more of shot at parity without totally emptying the cupboards of those who are successful.

    The signing of draft picks always strikes me as an awkward game of chicken. I don’t think it’s right that good players end up losing momentum in independent leagues just because they (or their agent) have a different idea of their own market value than the one party allowed to pay… Meanwhile the “market value” is simple rhetoric pressuring the team to take advantage of their sole shot at a particular talent slot. An open market combined with spending cap would end this absurd charade and get amateur signing shenanigans under control immediately, which I believe is the goal.

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  47. timothy says:

    I agree with Andy S says. I am a Yankees fan so people are probably saying what are you bitching about but why should bad teams that just pocket their money and expect people to feel bad for them and their fan bases who support them and get the shit end of the stick get to sign the young top talent. If you ask me the draft should be turned around and that includes the Red Sox and Angels all who I don’t really care for because they’re really good.

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  48. Tanner Boyle says:

    I know there are 50 rounds or so of players drafted. As people are complaining about the numbers of players and contracts, does anyone know how many players a team signs each year? What percentage are draft picks? International Free Agents?

    Also, does a global draft crush the academy system that seems to give the latin american players resources to focus on baseball?

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  49. Ken Arneson says:

    Dave’s “fix” for the draft may be fair, but it is also boring as heck. I don’t want to sit and wait for three months for a bunch of 18-year-olds to decide between 30 different offers.

    I want an exciting draft/auction day. We need trades. We need clever strategy. We need minute-to-minute drama.

    Let’s have a single auction day. Each team gets a budget as Dave described above. Bell goes off, and the bidding starts. However, each team is allowed to have only one outstanding bid at a time. The 30 current bids are all visible up on a big board. A player on the board (or agent on his behalf) can accept a bid, or wait to see if he gets better bids. A team can wait for that player to accept, or, at any time, jump off that bid and go bid on someone else instead.

    Once a bid is accepted, that contract can be immediately traded. Oh, but let’s make this more fun. Let the player choose to buy a no-trade clause for, say, 10% of the bid. Does that high school player from Georgia want to stay with the Braves bad enough? Or does he want the money?

    Auction day ends when the budgets are all used up.

    I think that would be insanely interesting to watch, and we’d be analyzing the decisions on both the teams’ AND the players’ sides for weeks and months to come.

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    • B says:

      I don’t see the appeal and excitement you get out of a draft. My interest is in making my major league team better. The draft is a step to that goal, but as an event itself? Really? I just don’t see it.

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      • Ken Arneson says:

        Yes, really. And the ratings for the NBA and NFL drafts show that I’m not alone by a longshot.

        Sports is entertainment. That’s the whole point of following this stuff, to be entertained. There’s no reason not to have the double goal of maximizing both fairness and entertainment value.

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  50. Sal Paradise says:

    What would happen to international player development? A worldwide draft would eliminate the scouts roaming the Shikoku/Kyushu countryside, and baseball camps in the Dominican republic/Venezuela, etc. Players pay these people to find talent because that talent isn’t in the draft and can be acquired for a very different price. Look at what happened to Puerto Rican talent since joining the draft. These sources of talent would essentially disappear as clubs have no reason to invest in a baseball camp to train players to play for another team.

    How would you deal with talent disparities? Let’s say your figures are for the average draft class. If the ultimate draft class comes along, they would deserve more money — perhaps double or more. If the budget is fixed for acquiring players, you end up shafting the players you are (presumably) try to protect here because there wouldn’t be enough money available. And not to mention that if your team gets bad when there is little talent in the draft, and it gets good when there is a lot, then you end up getting hosed because you can’t afford anyone anyway.

    Since supply far outstrips demand in these situations, that means that the prices would drop far below actual value, meaning that free agents would be even more grossly overpaid than they are now (because the richer/better teams would likely be getting almost nothing in the draft, so they would have to rely on a free agent market with more bidders for less talent than before).

    We may as well just have each player set his demands before entering the draft, and then have the teams willing to pay that take him when they want. If Strasburg decides he really wants 25 million, why not? If the Yankees want to pay it, why not? It’s not as if the Royals couldn’t have used the money they blew acquiring Jose Guillen on talent, and they’d have a lower pick to grab it too. And by having all the contracts decided before the draft started, there would be no signability concerns at all.

    Let the players decide what they want to be given after getting drafted. If that means they want a $25 million signing bonus and free agency after 2 years, let the team that wants to pay it pick them up. If a player doesn’t mind the standard 5 years of indentured servitude, go ahead!

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  51. JohnR says:

    I would tend to agree that Dave’s idea is quite different, however I think that proposal is frought with opportunities for shenanigans, and not completely convinced that the proposal will continue to allow the teams with the worst records’ access to their perception of the best talent.

    Based on Dave’s idea and some of the following comments,

    1. Similar to some other leagues, players graduating high school must declare for the draft. Players not declaring for the draft are ineligible for the MLB draft until after their junior season. This should reduce the number of high-school players intending to finish their education being signed away by MLB teams. This could help the college baseball program as letters of intent would be signed after the declaration date, so that the college coach would have some idea of the players coming to camp :). If a drafted high school player fails to come to an agreement, then he cannot be drafted again until the equivalent of after his junior year in college (so he can’t skip to Japan for a year then re-enter the draft). College juniors who fail to sign can re-enter the draft the following year.

    2. Draft order will be as the current process – with the team with the worst record drafting first.

    3. Each team will have an amount of draft ‘credits’ each year. The amount of draft credits will be equal for each team. These credits can be traded between teams as part of player transactions and as well as credit transactions (I’ll trade you 5000 credits for 2009 for 10000 credits for 2010). These credits have no monetary value per se.

    4. Each time a team signs a drafted player, they will be ‘fined’ a given number of credits – the amount will depend on the signing bonus, length of contract, MLB contract or not etc. For example player A signing a 2.5 million contact over five years versus player B signing a 2.8 million MLB contract over four years could have different ‘fines’. By this process you still allow for the negotiating process between player and team (without a player being ‘forced’ into a contract – which the slotted bonus system may create). Once you run out of credits, you can’t sign an additional player.

    5. Draft credits are applied to the contracts signed by players taken in the annual draft, and could also be applied to international free agent signings. This should help prevent reduce the closure of the latin american academies, as teams will continue to try to use these academies to find talent that presumably will cost them less talent. These draft credits may also be used as part of the posting process for players from Japan.

    6. An interesting idea bouncing around my head is that these draft credits could also be reduced by MLB as a penalty for a team exceeding MLB’s salary cap. With the disparity in revenues between the large and small market teams, the current system doesn’t really prevent some teams from simply outspending them – the current financial fine doesn’t seem to stop some teams from buying numerous big name free agents every season (which then increases their chances of winning, which increases their position in the media marketplace, which increases their revenues, which allows them to spend even more money). Therefore ‘fining’ teams draft credits for exceeding the salary cap may force some teams to try to balance current team needs versus long term player development.

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    • TJ says:

      that salary cap thing was just brilliant

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    • Paul Thomas says:

      If every team has an equal number of draft credits, how on earth does drafting first give you any advantage? The teams drafting later will just bulk up on mid-level signings. (Which is exactly what they’re doing right now, incidentally.)

      That part of your plan needs to be scrapped and replaced with a progressive system where the worse teams get more draft “credits.”

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    • mjs says:

      The conversation almost ends with “draft credits”. It’s too far off the current system, making it next to impossible to jump to this. Also, one of your points discusses contract length and value – areas that must be standardized. If not, teams like the Yankees can lock up players longer term at higher pay, since they can withstand the debt commitments that other teams cannot.

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  52. John says:

    If this was a blind auction/regular draft format the results of the blind auction would be like the NBA lottery except for each player’s rights being announced to a team. That would be very exciting.

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  53. Tim says:

    I have little confidence that this would work any better than the mess we have now. Sure, Strasburg can only pick up a $2 million bonus signing with the Yankees, but he has the potential to earn better money there regardless, because he’s got immediate endorsement deals if he’s with a major market team. And you’re just going to end up with players and teams making side agreements — the Yankees only pay him the $2 million in his initial contract, but renegotiate it after a year has elapsed or something like that. The potential for abuse is pretty rampant.

    So maybe in most cases it works, but with the elite prospects, I think it breaks down, and they’ll all end up signing with the Yankees or Red Sox anyway.

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    • B says:

      I don’t agree with you that it will end up like that, but let’s assume it will. So then take the choice away from the player – he has to go to whoever bid the most for him. Problem solved, right?

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  54. John says:

    The Yankees spend half a billion dollars this offseason, the Red Sox spend 52 million to have the rights to speak to player, yet Strasburg gets 15 million and the draft needs fixing?

    This is the problem with baseball. As a fan of small market team, I feel the draft is the only way a my team can compete on a somewhat fair basis with the New York, LA, CHI teams and Boston.

    The Pirates drafted well this season by taking signable reaches in the early roungs, and upside players with college commitments late.

    The fact that MLB throws out slotting suggestions and slows down overslot deals while letting Tex sign a contract that is as big as the bonuses of all players drafted in ’09 is laughable.

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    • Ray says:

      I agree to an extent, but those players are proven commodities. Those are the players that have a direct impact on ticket sales, marketing, etc.

      The average Joe baseball fan hardly pays attention to who his team drafted in the first round, not to mention in the 42nd round.

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  55. Jason says:

    This is an absolutely horrible idea. The intent is to limit the salaries of amateur players which it likely will after a period of a few years. However, you run the risk of massively inflating ML payrolls.
    The Sox and Yanks are no longer able to develop home-grown talent, so they are forced to augment their team with veteran players who will obviously want a premium contract. To stay successful with a dedicated fan base the FOs will have to comply thereby further enraging the low market teams who’ll say: “The Dodgers have a 400M payroll, but we can only afford the 35M given to us annually via revenue sharing.”

    To take the another point of vew: this would also allow very successful teams to cheat the system because there is not limit on how many teams a player can negotiate with. What is there to stop the Red Sox or Yankees from offering Strasburg 200k in year one, but 5M for the next 5 years?

    I’m curious about why everyone is so upset with the current system? Because Strasburg signed for more money than Smoltz and RJ combined? Smoltz and RJ signed 1 year contracts. Guess what, the Nats can control the next 13 years of his life for only 15M. [It is 13 years, if they want: 4 until he needs to be on the 40 man roster, 3 option years, 6 ML contract years] Huge bargain for a front-line pitcher.

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  56. Evan says:

    Abolish slotting and let them trade picks.

    Any caps on spending will serve to transfer wealth from the player to the owners, and that’s not fair to the players (of course, this is what Bud wants).

    Let the market forces work.

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  57. JimmyB says:

    Great debate. One thing that wasn’t brought up. Some organizations have better in house development after they get their draft picks signed. Better organizations pay coaches at lower levels more money because they have the resources ( Yanks, RSox, Phils, Dodgers ) to name a few. Although Yanks have not had much luck or traded their farm talent for other players. So draftees have to be aware of this as well when they are trying to sign with some teams.

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  58. SP says:

    There’s a case to be made that draft order, or a team budget in this case, shouldn’t be progressive at all–the worst teams shouldn’t be in the best position to get the top players. If you think about it, why should failure be rewarded? In Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell’s epic chat, they covered this and how it creates a moral hazard. See the bottom of this page and the top of the following: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090513/part2).

    Also, any reform of the baseball draft, HAS to include the ability to trade picks. It just has to. You can’t have a system where teams forgo signing their picks because they can’t afford it. Why not include the ability to sell the pick? And even outside the draft, imagine the increased trade possibilities. Smarter teams would hold on to picks, dumb teams wouldn’t. Basically, I and Simmons-Gladwell are actually arguing for a system that creates LESS parity.

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  59. StephenT says:

    I’m opposed to any scheme that has an incentive for the major league team to lose games. (Hence I’m opposed to both the current scheme and the proposed scheme.)

    The incremental change I would favor would be to just have a lottery for the draft order each year, instead of using the past standings. This would be fair to all the teams as the years go by, and it would completely eliminate the incentive to lose games.

    I’d also favor having the 2nd and later rounds be in reverse order of the 1st round to try to equalize as much as possible within one year.

    I’d also favor having the lottery order apply for two years, but the 2nd year would reverse the order of the 1st year.

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  60. j36t says:

    If you really want parity, you need to have the worldwide draft, hard slotting system, young player pay scale and a hard salary cap with revenue sharing. After 3 years of MLB control, he’s a free agent. The player can make his millions upon millions at that time. I realize this will never happen, partially because the minute it does the values of franchises go haywire, but if the really want parity, you gotta move this direction.

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  61. Bill says:

    Dave – I like the idea in concept but i will play the other side

    What stops a kid from signing with the Yankees or Dodgers for cheap cause thats where they want to go and redo the deal in 6 months?

    Also you are saying the finish last in the League get the best player format that is in all sports goes away?

    I dont think Bud would go for it at all but I think it could be in the discussion. I love the idea of Revenue sharing and luxury tax money going to something besides owners pockets. I dont think the scouting process in baseball is as fine tuned as say the NFL and if you keep paying draftees tons of money it is going to take away from the big league level. I like the Budgeted dollars approach.

    bill

    thefairball.com

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  62. Marc says:

    So I read the blog, as well as 80% of the comments…if I repeat someone’s comment here, my apologies.

    1. I’ve been arguing that the NFL and MLB need to do auction bidding to my friends, but most have ignored my calls for change.
    2. I would reduce the differences between #1 and #30 teams – I think 6x the money is too drastic.
    3. I would keep all contracts at 4 yrs, and the players become Rule 5 free agents after.
    4. I would include all players, including international ones. Reach an agreement with the Japanese leagues and Caribbean nations to decide who’s eligible.
    5. I would limit the draft to a certain number of rounds, then all other non-drafted players could sign with teams of their own choosing, at a minimum minor league salary.
    6. This auction could compete with the NFL draft! Think of the TV programming for this: auctioneer, 30 GMs, sweat as they bid. Player/agent sitting in their homes, waiting for their names to be tossed into the ring. When/if the player wants to go to a specific team, they signal the bidders (maybe like hitting a red button from “Press Your Luck”. I would watch this.

    On a similar topic, I wouldn’t tie this to revenue sharing. What I would do is include the sports networks owned by teams in revenue sharing, as well as luxury box seating (all of which are not included currently). I would also set a minimum-salary cap.

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  63. Max says:

    Sounds a lot like the 50s when the Yanks pretty much netted every decent amateur player. Except that every team would have an equal amount of money. But you have to think the cream of the crop is still going to gravitate to the Yanks and Red Sox every year.

    I guess I’d be for it if you still had some sort of system that helped bad teams – like maybe get rid of the rule that a Rule 5 pick has to spend all year on a MLB roster – just allow bad teams to select eligible minor leaguers to put in their organization.

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  64. Brad says:

    I love the idea of the auction draft. A few changes I would make though:

    1. Allow money to be rolled over from year to year (this would eliminate punishing guys in strong drafts or rewarding guys in weak drafts)
    2. Setting a standard length (4-6 years) for the initial contract to keep teams from avoiding the cap by back-ending contracts. (and… I can’t imagine players taking low-ball initial contracts to play for the Yankees based on a wink-wink, nudge-nudge promise that the Yankees will pad their next contract. Too much risk, but if they’re willing to take that risk then go for it.)
    3. I would make the amount equal for all teams ($5-10 million ?) and include a fee (5% ?) of any free agency signings to go to the team losing the free agent (free agent with the Pirates signs a 10 year $20 mill/year contract with the Yankees, the Yankees owe the Pirates $1 million dollars a year from their draft fund for the length of the contract. This would help cover the cost of teams that cultivate the talented prospects into major league ready players.
    4. Any players left after the auction draft would go into a standard draft with draft position determined by last years record. Each round would have a set salary (5th round picks get X amount of dollars for the standard number of years.

    I think this would be a more equitable way of attempting parity in the league because it wouldn’t just be punishing the teams that do well and rewarding the teams that do poorly but would provide flexibility in how teams construct their rosters (FA vs. draft) while allowing teams that can’t afford the big ticket FA’s to recoup some of that talent lost to the Yankees, BoSox, etc.

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  65. Ruiz Mateos says:

    I love to cook, so I’m always searching new recepies to try. Could anybody recommend me what to cook today? Thanks a lot!

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