Full disclosure: this was written well in advance to the midnight deadline, so if camp Boras leads a mass exodus of first round holdouts, I didn’t know at the time.
If a draft pick holds out, it’s always his fault. Either he’s greedy or Scott Boras is an insult to the game, maybe a mixture of both. Let a non-Strasburg draftee, like say, Donovan Tate (Note: he actually signed during the writing process, hypothetical!) go unsigned and see how many columnists, radio hosts, and fans turn him into a villain.
When it comes to money matters, the players are always, always, always wrong in the eyes of the public. I would guess it has to do with the loyalty factor. Most fans are fans of teams, not random high school or college players. Sure, you may like the new draft pick, and have high hopes for him, but you didn’t go to Padres.com on draft day and order a Tate jersey like you do with the NFL and NBA draft picks. Odds are fans have never seen the average draftee play – unlike the other sports – and thus there’s nothing to hang your hat on. He’s a mostly faceless entity trying to “extort” as much money out of the team as possible.
Except the players have every right to be selfish in these cases. The ones who do make it to the pros – and not many of any given draft class will – are essentially entering indentured servitude for the first three years. Only after three years of service do players get a share of the money they’ve earned and potentially get a nice free agent contract. That’s only for a small subset of these players, the rest are looking at their only real payday through baseball and have every right to try and get as much as possible.
The side that always backs the owners has some decent points as well. Why should the owners have to pay extra when the player is likely to flame out before reaching the majors? And why should the owners have to deal with the scorned lectures from Bud Selig when they go over slot?
The only solution is for a hard-slotting system. Either take slot or your rights are retained by the drafting team for the next six or seven years. As a concession for stabilized draft payouts, the owners would have to give back to the players, perhaps lowering the amount of service time required for free agency. Of course, the owners probably spend more money through this system than the other, but only in the long-run.
I’m not saying I have the answers or that either side is without some blame in the equation, but I am saying it’s a bit unfair to peg every teenager or twenty-something looking for a few hundred thousand over slot as a greedy villain.
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