Teams Should Be Allowed to Trade Draft Picks

One of my biggest pet peeves in all of baseball is that you cannot construct trades involving draft picks. Draft picks are commodities that teams own and which clearly have market value. Baseball’s paternalism in limiting the trading of this commodity goes well overboard, and damages the league overall.

I am going to make the case for trading draft picks not on any objective level, but rather from the subjective viewpoint of Major League Baseball. MLB should only make changes which benefit itself as an organization, so if there are legitimate reasons not to allow the trading of draft picks which outweigh any potential benefits, then I’ll back down. However, if we go over the typical laundry list of reasons given not to enact the change, I don’t see anything all too promising. In an article discussing the subject, the great Joe Posnanski details some of the reasons usually given. Here’s #1:

Owners are worried that if teams are allowed to trade draft choices that all the best young players will go to rich teams like the Yankees and Red Sox.

There are so many problems with this I don’t know where to begin. Joe makes the point that we don’t empirically see an overhaul of the best prospects going to the best teams via international free agency despite the lack of restrictions. However, I think the better point is this: why are we worried about teams being able to sell their own commodities for what they believe to be above the actual value of said commodity? If the Pirates feel that the first draft pick next year is worth $30 million to them, but the Yankees come in and offer two prospects they believe have an expected value of well over that, then why should MLB tie the Pirates’ hands and say, “No, we know better than you?” Besides the fact that most teams aren’t going to be selling their first overall draft picks (it’ll probably be 2nd and 3rd rounders), it’ll probably be the smaller market teams that buy the most of them! The big market teams will be looking to buy at the trade deadline and happily throw away some 3rd round pick for a decent bullpen arm, or a 1st round pick for the corner bat they need. Also, it’s funny MLB doesn’t care about restrictions on big money clubs when it comes to every other facet of baseball, but now we do here; I’m sorry, isn’t this the point of not having a salary cap? Joe’s Reason #2:

Owners are worried that small-market teams will go all Ted Stepien on us and start trading their draft choices like crazy so that they don’t have to spend money on signing bonuses.

Same answer to #1. Here’s #3:

Owners have this nostalgic belief that the best young players should go to the worst teams.

They still can, but why would you force a team to have one if they don’t want it? Really terrible logic there. However, Joe has a reason he thinks makes sense:

They’re scared to death that this will give Scott Boras and the other agents even MORE power over the draft…So, Danny suggests — and I can see this — that the big fear is that if teams are allowed to trade draft picks, suddenly Boras and his ilk become even more powerful. Suddenly they have yet another hammer. They can demand trades. They can bully small-market teams with even bigger demands. Yes, I can see why the owners are afraid … these people are not exactly known for their self control. They’re like the people who refuse to take the mini-bar key when they go to hotels because they know, just know, that at 2 a.m. they will not be able to stop themselves.

Joe seems to eat this up; I’m really not buying it. First off, this will happen for just about ten draft picks in the entire draft. Those are the ones that you can predict with any sort of decent accuracy (maybe even the top five only), and Joe goes on only to give examples regarding Strasburg, Boras, and the first overall pick. So I won’t throw away the idea just because there’s this one potential problem regarding a small number of picks.

More importantly, however, is the fact that this only gives more options to teams, and that’s not a bad thing. What do I mean by this? Scott Boras calls up Mike Rizzo the day before the MLB draft and says, “I hear you’re thinking of taking our Strasburg kid. I wouldn’t do it. He doesn’t want to sign with you. Trade the pick.” First off, this can already happen in the status quo, where instead of Boras saying “trade the pick,” he just says, “pick someone else.” Secondly, however, the teams can just draft the player anyway, and then you are completely back to the status quo with no real changes! The only way that a team would “be duped” by Boras is if they believe him and trade the pick, but they can still “be duped” in the status quo and take someone else. The minute they draft Boras’ guy, then negotiations are back to whatever they would be.

Moreover, this ignores the possibility that some guys might actually hold out or demand so much that a team really doesn’t want them. Rick Porcello dropped all the way to the end of the first round because of his price tag. Now, don’t you think someone with the 15th pick should be able to call the Tigers and say, “Listen, you’re not scared to give this kid what he wants. Give us your 1st and 2nd round picks and you can nab him right here before here falls any farther.” This is something that could actually happen, and it’d be better for baseball and everyone making roster managerial decisions throughout the game.

The reasons for not making the change are far outweighed by the inherent benefits of making it. It’s time baseball followed along the same lines of almost every other professional sports league and allowed teams to trade draft picks.




Print This Post



Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat


62 Responses to “Teams Should Be Allowed to Trade Draft Picks”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Nick Scott says:

    I was wondering if there wasn’t some kind of legal reason to keep teams from trading picks. Maybe that would force minor league players to be part of the CBA or something, which neither the mlbpa nor the owners want.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. JK says:

    more drivel…

    This is such a wonderful idea, I’m suprised no one ever thought of it before.

    Pat, if I was on my death bed, I’d want to read one of your articles, because you are the only writer I know that can make 5 minutes seem like a lifetime.

    -38 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. NEPP says:

    Trading picks is fine…as long as there is a full international draft. Something for something but nothing for nothing.

    The draft will be a big part of the new CBA and it will get bloody…especially if a-holes like Boras get involved in the process.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason says:

      Why is Boras an a-hole? Because he’s really good at his job? Because he helps players negotiate against billionaire owners?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Salt-n-Pepitone Loc says:

        He’s not an a-hole because he’s really good at his job, he’s really good at his job because he’s an a-hole.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Nick Scott says:

    NEPP,

    I don’t think that draft issues will be big at all in the CBA. The players look out for mlb players, not minor league players. They will gladly concede anything in regards to the draft to keep something better for mlb players and veterans.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Matt says:

    Or to get rid of the agent leverage, I don’t know, how about having a strict cap on rookie salaries (based on where they were picked)? Then, if Strasburg is picked for overall, no matter what team picks him, he knows exactly how much money he can make in his first however many seasons. So there is no financial incentive for him to demand a trade from the team that drafts/would draft him.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Nick Scott says:

    Matt, there is a cap on rookie salaries, pre-arbitration. Which I believe is 3 years or so. Then it is capped at what teams agree to with players or an arbitrator agrees to for 3 years. Only then is the player a free agent and can get high salaries on the open market.

    The money a player gets in the draft is all he is going to get beyond the pittance a minor league player gets until he gets on a major league roster.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. 198d says:

    | Now, don’t you think someone with the 15th pick should be able to call the
    | Tigers and say, “Listen, you’re not scared to give this kid what he wants. Give
    | us your 1st and 2nd round picks and you can nab him right here before here
    | falls any farther.”

    I don’t quite agree with this. There are five minutes between first round picks, and one and a half between subsequent rounds. That’s a pretty big decision for each team to make in (probably) a small amount of time… unless you’re proposing the draft be lengthened as well.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bill says:

      They do it all the time in the other drafts (NBA, NFL), not sure why it would be a problem with the MLB draft.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • 198d says:

        NFL has 10 minutes between picks I think. Not sure about the NBA — not a basketball kinda guy. The complication in baseball, unlike the NBA/NFL/NHL is that the talent is much further away from making an impact. I’m not saying it’s necessarily easier to evaluate talent in other sports, but I think that with the planning that goes into the draft, massively overhauling the draft strategy in a short amount of time in baseball would suck.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. philosofool says:

    “MLB should only make changes which benefit itself as an organization.”

    Claims like this are frequently put forward without thought, and it drives me crazy. There are many things that MLB should do that have nothing to do with benefiting itself. I’ll take the most extreme example I can think of, but a little imagination will let us conjure other examples, relevant to today’s circumstances, that are similar in kind if not in degree of importance.

    Suppose that breaking the color barrier had no benefit to baseball or even harmed it. It’s completely irrelevant to the question whether MLB should have broken the color barrier. Perhaps even worse is the thought that MLB should have broken the color barrier because that was to it’s benefit. The reasons to break the color barrier had nothing to do with benefit or harm to baseball. It’s about treating people like people rather than non-people, perhaps about benefits and harms to things besides baseball. To think otherwise is to fail to understand what’s wrong with racism.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Pat Andriola says:

      I completely disagree with the logic put forward here. It’s Kantian in nature, and I just find it circular and silly.

      You’re assuming MLB as a moral actor. MLB’s morality is only to maximize it’s profit. Fortunately, many things that are “moral” in society align with MLB’s goals to maximize profit, one of them formerly being breaking the color barrier.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • philosofool says:

        Now I’m really confused. Profit = benefit? That’s crazy. Many owners really want to win and are willing to sacrifice money to do it, but that’s contrary to (what you allege) is the only moral requirement on MLB, which is to make more money? Of course owner’s benefits can extend to non-financial considerations, and “MLB” is really just the owners, right?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pat Andriola says:

        Such circular reasoning. Owners are willing to sacrifice money in order to win…because they think it will make them more money! Sure, some owners get direct utility out of seeing their teams win, but the goal of Major League Baseball, which is the collective body of the owners, isn’t to have teams win more games. It’s to maximize profit for the league, which directly flows to the owners.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • rickie weeks says:

      Apples and oranges? Decisions regarding the economics of the game (trading assets) should be strictly about what benefits the organization. I don’t see how this compares to a social issue like discrimination…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Padman Jones says:

      Racism isn’t the question here…in fact, breaking the color barrier did have an enormous benefit on baseball by (a) introducing more talent to the player pool and (b) legitimizing player performance from 1947 onward.

      Think about it: the more talented players you can draw from, the better the quality of baseball. The better the quality of baseball, the greater the attraction to fans. The greater the attraction to fans, the more revenue MLB sees. Not hard to see that it’s beneficial to baseball to not arbitrarily limit itself to one particular group of players. And if you look back, the only knock people throw out against guys like Ruth and Wagner is that they didn’t have to play against black players. Diminished talent pool = diminished competition = inflated numbers.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • philosofool says:

        Your missing my point, which is that the principle Andriola has so blithely espoused is false. That’s why I point out that this is merely an extreme example. Perhaps the system whereby young, talented players can be paid far below their market value while under club control is another example.

        Your also missing my point that, when it comes to the issue of the color barrier, benefit really is beside the point. I realize that there were benefits to breaking color barrier. My point is the the benefits aren’t the main reasons to do it. The main reasons are more like justice, fairness, equal treatment of persons, and so forth.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Hobbit says:

        “The main reasons are more like justice, fairness, equal treatment of persons, and so forth.”

        what does this have to do with the business of baseball and what color is the sky in the world you live in?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pat Andriola says:

        philosofool, this isn’t making much sense unless you believe in an objective form of morality.

        Do I believe segregated baseball is a moral harm? Yes, but that is coming solely from my own moral system. I do not believe, as a nihilist, that any action, no matter what, is inherently good/bad. You just asserting that baseball should desegregate because it is “the right thing” assumes a fixed moral code in which segregation is bad.

        What I am trying to say is that MLB, as a profit-maximizing entity, has making money as its main goal. Should it act in a way that conforms to societal norms of morality? That’s ironically a question of one’s own moral opinion! Sorry, but unlike you I refuse to subject anyone else to what I believe is wrong/right, no matter how egregious (i.e. racism) the example you give.

        I disagree with you heartily in principle.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jake R says:

      Hypothetically, if there were no non-white players good enough at baseball to play professional baseball, would MLB still be obligated to employ players of color?

      The answer is no. The reason the color barrier was broken was because teams realized that there were black players out there that would make them better and that it was to their benefit to start employing them. If those players hadn’t existed, the color barrier would not have been broken but it also would be hard to argue that it should have been.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CircleChange11 says:

        The reason the color barrier was broken was because teams realized that there were black players out there that would make them better

        The reason the color barrier was broken was because NATIONAL LEAGUE teams realized that there were black players out there that would make them better.

        I added a slight correction. *grin* The teams that could continue being successful with only white players did so. But, you’re absolutely correct in that if there was not high quality black players, there would not have been any desire for woners to break the color barrier (as a group). Some may have felt compelled, others interested or curious … but once it was discovered that there were some REALLY good black players, it was less of a hurdle.

        IMO, teams should be able to trade anything that is regarded “theirs”. That could mean secretaries, players, furniture, frozen corn dogs, and even draft picks.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike says:

      You are confusing a moral society with a profit generating business. Do you really think baseball would have broken the color barrier when it did if not for Jackie Robinson being one of the best baseball players of all time? The purpose of a for profit business is to make money, and its only moral obligation is to abide by all laws which govern it. It will usually benefit a company to engage in corporate social responsibility, however, don’t confuse the motivation of a company to do good with the motivation of the company to do well.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • philosofool says:

        Why is profit the only moral obligation of a company? Indeed, making money doesn’t even make sense as a primary goal: except in the case of extremely unusual people, money is only a means to do other things. We want money so we can have nice clothes or cars, or go to cool places on vacation, or just to afford the basic necessities of life like food, shelter, and water (that’s what 70% of the world does with what little money it has.) Money is a stupid objective, except in a world where you can trade money for other things, which is to say that the other things are what matters to us when we pursue money. So it doesn’t even makes sense to say that money is the main objective of anything (people, for profit businesses, etc.), unless its one of the unusual people that just value being rich for its own sake but not for what it can provide.

        Also, to be very clear, I’m talking about the things that actually caused baseball to change regarding race (which probably did have a lot to do with profit, etc.), I’m talking about the reasons we actually regard the color barrier as a socially, morally and politically significant event. It’s part of living in a good society worth being proud of, etc.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pat Andriola says:

        “I’m talking about the reasons we actually regard the color barrier as a socially, morally and politically significant event. It’s part of living in a good society worth being proud of, etc.”

        What is this “we?” You are again projecting your moral guidelines on other people. While 99.99% of people may agree with you (hell, everyone in the world may agree with you), that doesn’t mean that there is a set moral code.

        Moreover, let’s say there is. Let’s say that by some mechanism, it is declared universally “immoral” to do “x.” I do it anyway. Why is this bad? Why does the immorality of an action matter? If an entity thinks it is in its own personal interest to do something, then they are satisfied on a moral level, despite what anyone else may feel.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • 198d says:

        >| Moreover, let’s say there is. Let’s say that by some mechanism, it is
        >| declared universally “immoral” to do “x.” I do it anyway. Why is this
        >| bad? Why does the immorality of an action matter? If an entity thinks it
        >| is in its own personal interest to do something, then they are satisfied
        >| on a moral level, despite what anyone else may feel.

        It’s universally “immoral” to “murder Pat Andriola.” philosofool does it anyway. Why is this bad? Why does the immorality of an action matter? If philosofool thinks it is in his own personal interest to do this, then he is satisfied on a moral level, despite what Pat Andriola may feel. (or, uh, not feel at this point)

        Sorry. Could not resist. :)

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • philosofool says:

        I’m not sure it’s exactly right to say I’m projecting my own moral guidelines on other people, but the point there is a nit-picky detail.

        But, yes, Pat, you’re right. I think there’s something wrong with racial discrimination, murder, stealing, and so forth. Morality is more than just an opinion as I see it. To say that it’s more than an opinion is not to say that I know that my own opinion is the right one, and it’s not to say that there’s only one good way to live life. But there are some ways to live life that are wrong, and some choices really are, over and above what we think about morality, right or wrong.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pat Andriola says:

        “But there are some ways to live life that are wrong, and some choices really are, over and above what we think about morality, right or wrong.”

        Wow. That statement is really logically abhorrent to me. This would take way too much time to discuss in the comments section about draft picks, but to claim that “there are some ways to live life that are wrong” implies a religious belief I obviously don’t share or some belief in a higher moral code I don’t share.

        The argument though is clear, just not logically sound. “I’m not saying everything is immoral, but murdering babies (fill in whatever grotesque thing you like) definitely is.” I mean, you can just appeal to the common moral perception and claim that x is wrong or y is immoral, and most people will agree with you based on societal pressure and a lack of critical reasoning, but that doesn’t make it so.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Mike says:

        “I mean, you can just appeal to the common moral perception and claim that x is wrong or y is immoral, and most people will agree with you based on societal pressure and a lack of critical reasoning, but that doesn’t make it so.”

        Do you not believe that infringing on the rights of others is universally wrong, regardless of morals? Do you not agree that it would be “wrong” for me to murder you, regardless of the “morality” of the situation? It is pretty obvious that you are strongly against moral universalism, but I personally believe that certain things (murder, rape, etc…) can be agreed are morally wrong because you are inflicting detriment upon another without their consent, or because they are breaking laws.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • philosofool says:

        Do you seriously believe, Pat, that taking a crap and rescuing Jews from the holocaust are morally on par? Seriously?

        No, that’s not the view you hold. Your insane view is that making money is actually morally significant, while rescuing Jews from the holocaust is irrelevant. You’re not even logically consistent because you don’t realize that your own view is that money matters morally but people don’t.

        Just be consistent and admit that according to you nothing matters at all and there’s no reason whatsoever for MLB not to secretly poison all the players who have above market value contracts or admit that killing people is wrong even when it makes you money.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pat Andriola says:

        philosofool, moral nihilists don’t take a position on anything. I don’t think that walking is morally superior than lying, and vice versa. I make no objective claims about morality whatsoever. As I said, you can bring up egregious examples all you want (you’ve gone from racism to Nazism now), but it’s still not logically coherent.

        There are tons of reasons MLB shouldn’t engage in the mass murders of its players. Surely you can see the difference between something being not morally objectionable and still not being a sound idea.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • philosofool says:

        I don’t think you’re following your own view to its proper conclusion. I get your point that there are no *moral* reasons, just other sorts of reasons. (I think when you start to think about it, you might see that what’s problematic about moral reasons may have more to do with their being reasons than their being moral, but let’s waive this point for the moment.)

        What you’ve said is that profit maximization is the goal of MLB. Now, I’ll admit that for many minor cases, the risks of secretly poisoning over market contracts outweighs their rewards. But some of the really bad contracts (see Dave’s list) are different. You might have to hire a one million dollar hitman to do it, but you would literally save millions by doing so. Obviously, you’d have to be very careful about how you do it, because getting caught would be disastrous. But it could be done. That’s not a recommendation on mass murder, just careful murder of a few guys like Vernon Wells.

        At the very least, I think you should recognize that even if there aren’t moral reasons for MLB to do certain things, you’ve made a very similar mistake in supposing that owners only imperative is money. The kinds of reason I think you should recognize are ones that derive from people’s own motives, desires and inclinations. In short (but to over simplify) wanting to do something is what gives you a reason to do it. But if that’s right, there imperative to pursue profit depends on the motive to do so. The motives of owners are more complex than simply to make money (after all, as I pointed out above, money is really only a means to do other things, so the value of money, and hence its desirability, is indirect). Owners want to win, not just for money, but for sake of being a winner. They want to have fun. They want to show off their ownership and take celebrities to games. They want to meddle in the construction of the team to have their favorite players. Or whatever. To the degree that owners have an reason to pursue money, it’s because that’s what they want.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Lucas says:

    If there is such a raft of benefits for teams if they decide to trade draft picks, I won’t worry about them–they govern themselves, rather democratically, and can certainly make the change if they want to. As a fan, I don’t really see the upside.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Joey B says:

    I think that it’s more likely that the small market teams will accumulate more picks, not less picks. Teams like the Yankees and Mets will toss away every #3/4/5 they have for the next five years.

    But what they really need to do is to make the cost for signing a second type A FA next’s year’s #1 rather the current year #2, for teams that sign more than one Type A in a season. There is no reason the Ted Stepian’s of the world to be constrained. Survival of the fittest.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike says:

      And teams losing a Type A and signing 3 others should have to give up the 1st round pick they receive as well, not have it insulated from surrender.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. PoliticalHack says:

    This would be awful. of course this would drive up signing bonuses and of course those early picks would be dealt to big money teams. The league would become even more imbalanced with smaller teams fielding squads of 4th round picks, unable to afford high picks or free agents later. The Draft is the only reason that all teams are FORCED to be a little competitive. The author here is ignoring that some owners aren’t trying to win. That’s the truth, in more cities than MLB likes. Those owners are still making money with 1/3 full stadiums, and they are happy with that. Letting them dump their draft picks, even more than they do by signing cheap players high in the first round, would even further doom their fans to perennial basement finishes. I couldn’t care less about ownership or the MLB. As a fan, this would be awful.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jake R says:

      If I am a prospect, why would I rather be drafted by a high revenue, high payroll MLB team?

      The lower revenue teams tend to have fewer blocked roster spots and more opportunities to get to the majors sooner. The sooner you get to start playing in the bigs, the more money you make. Just look at how long it has taken for Buchholz and Hughes to go from the best pitching prospects in the country to being firmly established in their teams’ rotations. You are also still fairly likely to get traded at some point anyway. If I were an amateur baseball player, I’d much rather start my career in the Marlins or A’s organization than the Yankees or Red Sox.

      On another note, trades should actually suppress bonuses rather than inflate them. It would cause the draft to be more properly ordered. The best players are going to get their money either way. But, if a top 10 talent slides to the back of the first round in the current system, that causes a non top-10 player to get paid like one instead, which is inflationary. Trades should prevent this, at least to some degree. And, if early round picks remain protected, how much leverage does a draft pick really have to demand a trade when the drafting team could just walk away if they didn’t get back something at least as valuable as their draft slot in the trade?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Rich says:

    I very strongly disagree with allowing teams to trade draft picks.

    Draft picks are one of the few things that keeps bad managers from completely destroying the future of teams to “win now”

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Steve says:

      why should we feel responsible for stopping this?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Rich says:

        Because the health of the sport relies on some semblance of competition.

        The NFL is kicking the MLB’s ass because of parity. Allowing a GM on his last legs to mess up a team for 10 years is bad news, for that team, for that division as a whole, and baseball as a whole.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Roll the Car says:

        re: Rich

        As a Lions fan, I can tell you that the NFL has no problem allowing an incompetent GM to cripple a franchise over the space of 7+ years.

        I don’t think it’s unreasonable to allow a pro sport franchise to make its own decisions on what to to do with any trade assets it may have. Some will screw it up, some will thrive. That’s the nature of the beast.

        We’re just talking about having the opportunity to trade draft picks. No one’s required to make a trade. As far as players using signability as leverage, that’s the case now as well. That doesn’t change. If they want to sit out a year, that’s their choice.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JamesDaBear says:

        As bad off under Matt Millen as the Lions were (still are?)… the NFL has expanded recently and never threatened contraction or see their franchises held up in bankruptcy auctions. Yes, Millen crippled the Lions competitively, but they still exist and are profitable. The NFL just isn’t a good comparison because of their superior business model.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Padman Jones says:

    I suppose my biggest problem – and it’s not really a problem, when you get right down to it – with the idea is that teams won’t know for a few years how to properly value draft picks. I know that around these parts there’s a figure thrown around about the monetary value – $4.5MM, if memory serves – but translating that into player performance won’t, I think, be as easy as looking for $4.5MM of player value.

    Put another way: the attrition rate of prospects in baseball is so high, even among early round picks, that gambling on a draft pick as compensation is a tough sell. Plus, it’s not like football where a freshly-drafted rookie can step in and contribute right away (Strasburg, Leake excluded). I think teams would be loath to dump Major League players – except guys with atrocious contracts, I suppose – for what could essentially be “nothing.” It’s the same principle as guides trades today, except with even greater uncertainty and public backlash if it fails.

    Basically, it’s the once bitten, twice shy principle: a trade where a team gets a prospect that doesn’t pan out in exchange for a player at least got something tangible. Plus, they wouldn’t have to wait as long to decide if the guy could be an MLB contributor or not; a draftee can take upwards of 4 years to reach the bigs, while teams could center their approach around trading for older minor leaguers upon whom they could act more quickly.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • exxrox says:

      I agree, it seems that the value of the draft picks would be much lower than the value of a top, or even middle, prospect…especially if you’re only acquiring the 2nd or 3rd rounder as the blogger suggested…compared to other sports, again, where draft picks have a much faster impact and take much less maturation time and therefore have much more value to the recieving club. What would you trade for a 1st rounder?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. MikeS says:

    The best way to fix baseball is not a salary cap, not a slotted draft wage scale but to convince the owners that players are assets and not liabilities. Too many owners feel that they don’t have enough revenue to spend money on player payroll when maybe if they would just bring in players that fans were interested in or could win some games, they would have more revenue. They are doing it backwards! If a restaurant told you the food would get better if more people would eat there because then they would have more money to pay a better chef what would happen? Only a very few teams seem to understand this concept.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • 198d says:

      But players are liabilities! To play with your analogy a little, what is the likelihood that your “free agent,” chef gets significantly injured and is unable to cook for the duration of his or her contract? Or, that your “free agent,” chef somehow loses the ability to cook at an elite level? How often do restaurants fund chef training? How many chefs fail out and/or bust? Players, both FA and drafted, are a significant risk. FA and draft busts are entirely illiquid assets, they’re sunk costs. Successful business folk are typically risk averse and terrified of illiquid assets. Not that I don’t agree with your point, it’s just, well, a “chicken-and-egg,” scenario.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. JamesDaBear says:

    I’m all for MLB trying to make their draft more of an attraction (every dollar generated would basically be like money found on the street). Any improvement there would also be good for minor-league baseball, which is good for baseball culture in general, and good portions of that money will flow to the top. Unless I see ideas that show how it definitely hurts MLB franchises (the haves or have nots) to buy, sell, trade or exchange draft picks, I say do it.

    However, first I would like to see MLB correctly decrease the amount a player could earn as a completely unproven commodity and remove the loopholes.

    For the most part, these players are lucky to have jobs. They mostly aren’t skilled to do anything else. I have very little problem with players making large sums of guaranteed money when they’ve proven their worth and verified they have bankable talent (it’s hard for me justify anybody making $10+ million per year, but it’s better than billionaires just keeping it… and they would). It’s ridiculous for players just out of college and * gulp * high school to get rewarded this way based off pure speculation.

    They need to return it to a culture of these young men “applying” for the chance to play a game for a living and make them happy just to get to do the one and only thing they can do well at the highest-potential levels of profit, no matter what for which they play.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Paul Thomas says:

      Unlike free agents, young players are actually worth far more than they are getting paid. (There’s a reason why draft picks have positive value in the first place.) Draftees are hugely underpaid and exploited for the benefit of over-the-hill veterans.

      And you want to make this worse. You also want to reward the rich at the expense of the poor. This is completely insane.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • pele says:

      lol @ this nonsense

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Paul Thomas says:

    Given the rather strident remarks of the author in the comment section, the OP is almost comically understated. If you want to maximize the efficiency of the player market, the way to do that is to monetize EVERYTHING: in other words, abolish the draft, abolish the reserve-clause salary structure, and make all players free agents.

    In theory, this is not a bad idea, as long as the teams in better revenue positions can be induced to pay the poor teams so that the league is actually competitive. (Without redistribution, you get the English Premier League, which is a total snore as a competition because only 3 teams can win.)

    The problem (well, apart from the unfair labor practice allegations, but we’ll skip over that angle since I suspect few people other than me on this site are labor law junkies…) is that this proposal turns things into less of a “game with made-up rules” and more like just any old business, which a. isn’t good for the powers that be (veteran players and ownership), who extract a lot of subsidies out of the status quo, and b. is probably less interesting for the fans, too. It’s unclear who, other than players in the lower tiers of the reserve system, benefits from it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Paul Thomas says:

      Actually, I take that back. By demystifying subsidies, you probably make it easier for people who dislike baseball to fight their tax dollars going to stadium boondoggles.

      So there’s your constituency– minor leaguers and people who don’t like baseball. Odd sort of a crusade on this site, but whatever floats your boat, I guess.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Joe says:

    having an even distribution of picks every year probably isn’t such a bad thing to help keep teams competitive going forward (at least it gives fans hope). obviously, there are other issues in MLB re budget differences and free agency, but does the lack of flexibility to trade picks really harm MLB as league. Is it really bad that each team gets a player of each round’s value each year (roughly speaking)? Nah. This isn’t some normal market. It’s a zero some game. For every winner, there’s a loser. Yes, it restricts the ability of a great GM to accumulate and and make great picks. But it probably also restricts a bad GM from screwing up his team’s future even more.

    As a fan, I like knowing that no matter how bad my ownership or management is, there’s always going to be a top pick every year to give me some hope. Baseball is a bit different than the other sports because it has its minor leagues. Very few guys picked are expected to be on the team right away.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. CircleChange11 says:

    It cracks me up to hear people bash the lesser teams for not bringing in better players to win more games, and attract more fans.

    (1) Where is all this great talent?
    (2) How much would it cost?
    (3) How many years would a team need to do this in order to build a 1st place team?
    (4) How much would they have to overpay these guys to draw them away from the larger markets?
    (5) Again, where are all these talented players that can fill out 30 lineups?

    You do realize that lesser teams have figured out that they can finish out of the playoffs while spending 60M just like they could if they spent 90M.

    That’s all MLB needs is 10 teams in a bidding war over a 4 WAR player, repeated multiple times. I wonder how much salaries would rise and how fast. My guesses are “quickly” and “a lot”.

    Again, how many star players would the bottom 8 teams need to sign (each), how much would it cost, and where they hell are all these impact players?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. CircleChange11 says:

    Let mr put it another way, If a team had 8 poition players and 5 starting pitchers that were all “league average” (2 WAR) and paid market value (9M/y), they would have a payroll of AT LEAST, 107M, and would win what, 80 games?

    Factor in the other roster players and we’re talking 120M for 85 wins. Now imagine the other lesser teams are doing the same, and that there is actually enough good players to go around.

    The players would love it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. Mark says:

    Some pretty heated debate going on. Firstly Pat, I thought the article was well written and its clearly something you’re passionate about.

    Personally I like the idea of the worst teams being given the advantage of the best young players, however the major problem being that young players are so hard to evaluate. If you take out the exceptions (i.e. Strasbourg, A-rod etc) most draftees are projects for 2 or 3 + years; its an educated guess a lot of the time as to how good they are going to be.

    As an extension therefore teams should be able to trade their picks; if it allows say the Nats or the Orioles to make additions that are nearer to being Major league ready then they should be allowed to do so. If not they have the right to sign the player and take the risk.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. rob says:

    so what happens to type a & b free agents? what if a team signs a type a free agent but has already traded their first round pick that year? what happens to the team that loses their type a free agent?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Savino says:

      I’m pretty sure there already exists a system to handle that. As in, what if the Yankees sign four type A free agents in one offseason like CC Sabbathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixera.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *