MLB Fixes the Trea Turner Problem for Everyone Else

Over the winter, the Padres, Nationals, and Rays agreed on a big three-way trade that shipped Wil Myers to San Diego, Steven Souza and a bunch of other stuff to Tampa Bay, and a couple of prospects to Washington. Joe Ross was the only named prospect at the time of the deal, but the Nationals also received a PTBNL, who was quickly reported to be Trea Turner, the Padres first round selection from last June’s draft.

Because draft picks are not eligible to be traded for 12 months from their signing date, the Padres and Nationals are not allowed to confirm that Turner has indeed already been traded, and he remains in the Padres organization at this time. However, it’s public knowledge that Turner will be changing organizations mid-summer, creating an awkward situation where the Padres are stewarding another team’s asset. As I wrote after the trade was made and Turner was unofficially revealed as the PTBNL, this was a bad situation for all to be involved in, and likely required a rule change.

Well, as of today, that rule has officially been changed. An email has been sent to all 30 MLB teams regarding this adjustment, and reads as follows, as told to me by a source who got the email:

Please be advised that the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association have agreed to amend the Major League Rules in advance of this year’s Rule 4 Draft with respect to players-to-be-named-later (“PTBNLs”) under Rule 12(e)(2), and the trading of draft picks under Rule 3(b)(6). …commencing with players eligible for the 2015 Rule 4 Draft, (a) players selected in the Draft may be traded beginning on the day following the conclusion of the World Series, and (b) drafted players cannot be PTBNLs unless they otherwise could be traded pursuant to Rule 3(b)(6), as amended, at the time of the trade.

This amendment replaces the previous 12 month waiting period with a new no-trade restriction of roughly five months, allowing teams to then officially trade their most recent draft picks the following off-season. Instead of forcing teams to use the PTBNL loophole — those don’t have to be declared for six months, so a team could start trading draft picks six months after the draft previously — teams can now freely move these players, which will allow players in Turner’s situation going forward to change organizations in time for the next Spring Training.

This doesn’t help Turner himself, who will remain in the Padres organization until mid-June, so he has another six weeks left as a ward of the Padres. But going forward, future Trea Turners will not be forced to sit in limbo while they wait for teams to acknowledge what everyone else already knows. And given that the Nationals were able to dictate some of his handling this year — what level he started at and the position he plays, mostly, so that the Padres didn’t just experiment with him as an A-ball catcher or something — this probably didn’t end up doing significant harm to Turner’s career.

But it was always a silly exercise to have to go through, and now no one else will have to follow in Turner’s footsteps. This was a good and necessary rule change, and it’s nice to see MLB moving to act quickly when situations like this arise.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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zurzles
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zurzles
1 year 29 days ago

over the what… OVER THE WHAAAAAT

David
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David
1 year 29 days ago

Just curious Dave, but do you have a source for saying that the Nationals dictated where Turner started and where he played? I hadn’t seen that reported anywhere. I believe you, but that’s news to me.

Dakota
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Dakota
1 year 29 days ago

It’s also just kind of common sense that the Nationals would have some input on his handling

A shitty journalist
Guest
A shitty journalist
1 year 29 days ago

You just gave away one of my best sources!

CurlyW
Member
CurlyW
1 year 29 days ago

Well, considering this was a loophole deal, and he still hasn’t officially been named as a PTBNL, there would be some serious consequences if the trade itself had official language declaring the Nationals have input on how a player not specifically named in the deal is handled by a competing ball club. It makes sense that it would be a handshake, gentlemens’ agreement.

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 29 days ago

I like the new approach Manfred is bringing to MLB. He seems like he’s willing to listen and change things that seem off, and he’s willing to make those changes quickly as opposed to forming committees that do nothing for a decade. This rule change (the Trea Turner Rule?) was welcome and definitely overdue. If he successfully ends the local blackout nightmare on MLB.tv, I would give him a big high-five.

wildcard09
Member
Member
1 year 29 days ago

Yeah Manfred’s work has been nothing short of phenomenal so far. Like you mentioned, just the fact that he’s actually willing to listen and make changes quickly is a huge step up from Bud Krampus.

Pig.Pen
Guest
Pig.Pen
1 year 29 days ago

I hate to quibble, because I mostly agree that Manfred has been great, except for his handling of the Josh Hamilton situation. As someone who has worked with addicts and alcoholics ranging from Juveniles to adults, as well as being one myself, the future ramifications for those struggling with addiction are huge. They have effectively been told by their employer that if you have a problem and tell us about it, we will do our best to take away from you as much as possible should it be advantageous to us. Furthermore, we will do next to nothing to keep the matter quiet and once it is out will openly comment on it.

Other than that, he’s been great.

wildcard09
Member
Member
1 year 29 days ago

Well, this isn’t really the place to debate about whether addiction is a “disease” or not, but the rules are the rules. Hamilton should honestly consider himself lucky that he’s not suspended for the year, regardless of whether he self-reported or not. Confessing to the police that you committed a crime doesn’t mean they won’t punish you for it.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
1 year 29 days ago

This is also not the place to debate whether or not the Earth is flat.

Also, it seems very likely that MLB and the Angels broke those precious rules you’re talking about, too.

cass
Guest
cass
1 year 29 days ago

wildcard09, I hope the people who are in a position to judge you for whatever mistakes you make are more compassionate than you appear to be.

Chowjuch
Guest
Chowjuch
1 year 28 days ago

People need to realize that things aren’t going to be kept quiet anymore. That is something we all gave up a long time ago when the information age began (whether knowingly or not). I mean, do you really think MLB could have kept something like Josh Hamilton’s admitted relapse quiet? If you do, you’re naive.

Paul G.
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Paul G.
1 year 28 days ago

Pretty sure it is round.

Pig.Pen does have a point, but without all the details it is difficult to judge. If Josh was going to be exposed anyway and volunteered the information only to try to get leniency, then he really does not deserve any mercy. If he was genuinely confessing his sins, then mercy is in order. Hard to say at this juncture.

Jon Williams
Guest
1 year 27 days ago

I’m not sure that you can place much of the blame for Hamilton’s situation on the commissioner’s office. It is the Angels that treated him badly and without compassion.

Mike
Guest
Mike
1 year 26 days ago

Keep in mind that at the time Josh admited his relapse there was a rumored divorce which could have put Hamilton in hot water if his wife filed one of the causes for divorce his ongoing addiction.

Now we know that the rumor is true and it could very well be that he admited it just to get a carté blanche from MLB.

On top of that, those leaks mainly benefited Josh Hamilton, whom we now know was already contacting the Rangers to let them know how his rehab was going. It could very well had been a well played hand by Josh to force a move from Moreno, resulting in Hamilton being traded to where he wanted and to whom he already had had talks with.

Then again those could have been coincidences. I do not believe in coincidences but… alas they happen. Josh Hamilton should feel very affortunate that three nifty curious coincidences surrounding his case, happened.

Buck Rotgut
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Buck Rotgut
1 year 27 days ago

The blackout rule on mlb.tv is insane. I can’t see Oakland play a home game against a team from a city a five hour away in an adjacent state when I live across the continent from Oakland? Like I might go there or something. I can’t get the visiting team’s local TV stations, why on earth can’t I see the game?

Limit the blackout to the local TV radius of the visiting team and the home team!

Mike
Guest
Mike
1 year 26 days ago

Across the continent? Do you live in Asia? because in Asia it can be seen on MLB.tv

In other countries of America all games can be seen with no blackouts, that’s why I have MLB.tv subscriptions paid in Mexico, it costs the same but I am not subjected to blackouts. You just needs friends who can pay with a mexican credit card.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
1 year 26 days ago

Are you mixing up ‘continent’ with ‘ocean’ or ‘world’? I assumed he was referring to the continent of North America, and he lives on the East Coast. I’m not sure how Asia is across the continent from Oakland.

Like everybody else, I think the blackout rules are insane. When I lived in SF, I understood that Giants and A’s games would be blacked out because they were on local tv. When I moved to Charlotte I expected Braves games to be blacked out, but I was surprised to find out that Orioles, Nationals and Reds games were also blacked out. Despite paying $150/month for Time Warner, I still didn’t have access to the channel that the O’s/Nats share.

SeanCasey
Member
SeanCasey
1 year 29 days ago

They should allow the trading of J5 picks on June 5th. It would make the draft more interesting to me. Are they afraid a FO will shoot themselves in the foot by selling off their major source of future low cost talent? MLB draft picks are not able to contribute quickly like in the NBA and NFL and there’s many more of them in the MLB. The MLB draft is more about scouting than the other sports but the lack of names people recognize make it less interesting. More strategy through trades should help that.

joser
Guest
joser
1 year 29 days ago

What they’re trying to avoid is having some deep-pockets team (let’s call them the Dodgers) set aside $85M which they distribute to the other teams to buy draft picks 1 through 30. (That’s roughly what it would cost based on last year’s slot values).

Making the draft more “interesting” to observers isn’t MLB’s goal, and it shouldn’t be. Baseball’s draft is never going to be as “interesting” or as much of an entertainment spectacle — at least not until the college baseball gets the kind national TV coverage that college football does, or the College World Series brings as much attention as the NCAA Final Four. The NFL and NBA are drafting players who are already well-known, or even famous, athletes who have played on TVs across the country for a year or more already and in most cases will have an immediate impact on the teams that draft them. That’s what drives interest in those drafts, and that’s why the MLB draft will never be as interesting. Having new ways for the rich teams to game the system (“strategy!”) isn’t going to change that.

Baseball’s draft is supposed to be about competitive balance (how much it actually accomplishes that is of course open to question, especially since we don’t know the true outcome for years). With that as a goal (and with “interest” being a non-starter) anything that makes it easier for the (talent-)rich teams to get richer at the expense of the poor ones, is probably a mistake. Making draft picks tradeable doesn’t necessarily do that in itself, but baseball has a long and sordid history of owners selling players for cash and leaving the on-field product much the worse. And it’s the on-field product that needs to be interesting.

Anon21
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Anon21
1 year 29 days ago

What they’re trying to avoid is having some deep-pockets team (let’s call them the Dodgers) set aside $85M which they distribute to the other teams to buy draft picks 1 through 30. (That’s roughly what it would cost based on last year’s slot values).

No, that’s not what it would cost, because $1 million in Draft Bux is worth far more than $1 million in cash.

nate
Guest
1 year 29 days ago

very well said!

i do wonder if shortening the period teams have to hold their draft picks will make it more likely there are precisely the type of cash-for-player deals that the original rule was designed to prevent.

David of unknown robot status
Guest
David of unknown robot status
1 year 27 days ago

You know that the rule was absolutely not created for precisely that type of cash-for-player deal, right?
It was created to keep players from following Pete Incaviglia’s example and telling their teams they would not sign and demanded a trade elsewhere.

BMarkham
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BMarkham
1 year 29 days ago

We’re talking about trading picks here, not buying them. There’s no reason why teams shouldn’t be able to trade picks for players and their associated contracts. In the NFL teams do it to make sure they get the player they want (by trading up) or to get some value from letting someone else take a player that another team is higher on.

Teams spend millions on scouting amateur players every year, why not give them the flexibility of actually getting the players they’re higher on relative to the other teams? What’s wrong with trading a major leaguer or a prospect for a pick? That’s pretty much the same as dealing minor league talent for a major league player, that is, valuing the present over the future or vice versa. What’s the difference when it’s a draft pick rather than a prospect that spend a year or two in the system already?

It’s nice that they changed the rule so that you can trade prospects sooner, but it’s still an arbitrary cut-off. The Padres situation is different as the outgoing FO probably saw Trea Turner as more valuable than the current one does, but if trading a prospect for Wil Myers is OK, why can’t they trade a first round pick for Wil Myers?

That Guy
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That Guy
1 year 28 days ago

I can’t recall all the arguments that have been made in favor of NOT trading draft picks in MLB, but given the length of the draft, NOT trading picks seems like an easy way to keep it streamlined, to some extent.

And frankly, do we really need to read about how our team should have gotten the 18th round pick back instead of the 23rd round pick, in a trade?

jones
Guest
jones
1 year 28 days ago

I think it’s in large part about maintaining the illusion of draft bonuses being fair or even generous.

It’s in MLB’s best interest when the sports media loses its mind about an unproven Bryce Harper getting an enormous bonus. It gives them leverage for curtailing bonuses in the subsequent CBA negotiation.

If the #1 pick and the right to give Bryce Harper an enormous bonus is traded for tens of millions of dollars in assets, MLB has to give up the ghost and admit that yes, these players are massively underpaid and the amateur draft is designed to let teams extract surplus value on the backs of 18 years olds who weren’t part of the negotiation. Better to keep it the way it is so we can pretend like it’s something it’s not.

Once you allow draft picks to be marketable, you run the risk of someone actually stopping and noticing what a steal they are.

Yosted
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Yosted
1 year 27 days ago

You also give those draft picks enormous leverage…”don’t pick me unless you are immediately going to trade me to XYZ team” sort of situation

Slacker George
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Slacker George
1 year 29 days ago

What’s the harm in MLB allowing the Turner PTBNL announcement to become effective immediately? Call it the “Chattel Transfer Act” and let everyone get on with their lives.

Ghost of Steve M.
Guest
Ghost of Steve M.
1 year 29 days ago

Wondering the same. I used the word grandfather clause which I guess is wrong as it would be retroactive to him or anyone else that still could be traded out of that 2014 Draft class. Turner signed quickly making his 1 year waiting period on the early side.

Mike
Guest
Mike
1 year 26 days ago

Because other teams could have done something similar but could not reach an agreement on how a PTBNL player should be treated until he could be actually traded after 1 year. If you exercise that rule beginning this year then all new draftees will be under that new rule.

byron
Member
byron
1 year 29 days ago

I know it would be terrible in reality, but I love the idea of teams screwing with the players they know are leaving. “The Nationals trade Souza for a PTBNL. In unrelated news, the Padres have announced that they are converting Trea Turner to pitcher. They are insisting he use his non-throwing hand, and that he man a concession stand on off-days and while his team is batting.”

joser
Guest
joser
1 year 29 days ago

Or just ship him off to one of their Latin American academies… on a slow boat full of hookers and blow.

Bender
Guest
Bender
1 year 29 days ago

In fact, forget about the Latin American academies!

Bender
Guest
Bender
1 year 28 days ago

Ah screw the whole damn thing

Darkstone42
Member
Darkstone42
1 year 29 days ago

“But going forward, future Trea Turners will not be forced to sit in limbo…”

I mentally altered “future Trea Turners” to “Trea Turners to be named later” when I read that line. I wasn’t even fully aware of doing it.

Joshie
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Joshie
1 year 26 days ago

How interesting, please tell us more!

David of unknown robot status
Guest
David of unknown robot status
1 year 29 days ago

Interesting that Manfred decided to address the “Trea Turner Problem” without also dealing with the “Rubby De La Rosa Problem” at the same time.

And for that matter, as long as he’s going to allow trades that are contingent on handshake agreements about future deals (Hart as much as said he wouldn’t have made the Cahill trade if he couldn’t have the comp pick which he acquired “separately” a few days later once it was within the rules to acquire it), then it doesn’t matter anyway.

Detroit Michael
Member
Detroit Michael
1 year 28 days ago

FYI, the one-year rule was known as the Pete Incaviglia rule: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Incaviglia. John Elway did an analogous thing in the NFL, if I’m recalling correctly.

Not sure that a whole year is needed given that baseball draft picks now have to sign or not sign in a much shorter time period.

Tesseract
Guest
Tesseract
1 year 28 days ago

This shall be called the Trea Turner’s rule then.

John Elway
Member
1 year 25 days ago

Detroit Michael, you are recalling correctly. Although I had the additional fallback of playing baseball if the Colts never did make that trade.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=elway-001joh

NateW
Guest
NateW
1 year 27 days ago

Also nice to see that they are enforcing the rule more strictly going forward. Teams cannot trade recently drafted players by calling them PTBNL, which seemed like an underhanded way to undermine the rule’s intent in the first place.

Mike13
Guest
1 year 26 days ago

Finally, this rule is fixed. Why would you need a whole year of waiting time?

james
Guest
james
1 year 26 days ago

i know that it is common sense that the nats get some say in what they do with the player, but i thought it normally was enforeced by a list of players rather than an actual agreement for action. So Trea Turner would have been the best player on the list, but there would be 3-4 other B level prospects on the list, and normally a cash option.

Joshie
Guest
Joshie
1 year 26 days ago

Yes, in case something happened to Turner (a freak accident on the field, for example). That is how it is handled.

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