Saturday, August 13, 2022

MLB, MLBPA fail to reach deal for international draft; free agent system to remain in place

MLB, MLBPA fail to reach deal for international draft; free agent system to remain in place

MLB ‘fell well short of anything Players could consider a fair deal,’ the MLBPA said in a statement

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On Monday, the deadline for negotiating a new international draft in Major League Baseball passed without an agreement in place. That means there will be no international draft moving forward, and the existing system of signing international free agents will remain in place. The end of negotiations also means that the qualifying offer and free agent compensation systems will remain in place. MLB had been willing to eliminate those systems in exchange for an international draft. 

The Major League Baseball Players Association, who had been negotiating with MLB on an international draft, released the following statement after Monday’s deadline passed

“The Players Association today rejected what MLB characterized as its ‘final’ proposal to establish a draft and hard slotting system for international entrants.

“Players made clear from the outset that any International Draft must meaningfully improve the status quo for those players and not unfairly discriminate between those players and domestic entrants. To this end, the Players Association made a series of proposals aimed at protecting and advancing the rights of international amateurs.

“Our draft proposals — unprecedented in MLBPA history — sought to establish minimum guarantees in player signings, roster spots, infrastructure investments, playing opportunities, scouting opportunities as well as enforcement measures to combat corruption. We also made proposals to compensate international signees more fairly and in line with other amateurs, and to ensure that all prospects have access to an educational and player development safety net.

“At their core, each of our proposals was focused on protecting against the scenario that all Players fear the most — the erosion of our game on the world stage, with international players becoming the latest victim in baseball’s prioritization of efficiency over fundamental fairness. The League’s responses fell well short of anything Players could consider a fair deal.”

In response to the union, MLB released its own statement

“MLB worked to reach an agreement with the MLBPA to reform the international amateur system in ways that would address longstanding challenges and benefit future players. We are disappointed the MLBPA chose the status quo over transitioning to an international draft that would have guaranteed future international players larger signing bonuses and better educational opportunities, while enhancing transparency to best address the root causes of corruption in the current system.” 

Drafts at heart are a cost-saving measure for leagues and teams, which explains the driving motivation for MLB. At last report, negotiations were stalled over the total bonus pool of an international draft and bonus limits for undrafted players who sign after the draft. 

Ultimately the union likely decided that getting rid of essentially modest anti-market restrictions on free agents was not worth what amounted to major wish-list item for ownership. It’s at least theoretically possible that negotiations on an international draft could be revisited in the future, but until further notice the issue is dead in MLB. 

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