Major League Baseball Players Association announced Monday that it has rejected Major League Baseball’s recent (and purportedly “final”) proposal to implement an international draft. The MLBPA statement states:
“The Players Association today rejected what the MLB called its ‘final’ proposal to create a draft and strict time regime for international entrants.
The players made it clear from the start that any international project must significantly improve the status quo of these players and not discriminate unfairly between these players and local expats. To this end, the Players Association has made a series of proposals aimed at protecting and promoting the rights of international amateurs.
Our draft proposals — unprecedented in MLBPA history — sought to establish minimum safeguards in player signatures, roster patches, infrastructure investments, gameplay opportunities, and exploration opportunities as well as anti-corruption enforcement measures. We have also made proposals to compensate international signers more equitably and in line with other amateurs, and to ensure that all potential customers have an educational safety net and player development.
In essence, each of our proposals focused on protecting against the scenario that all players fear most — the erosion of our game on the global stage, with international players becoming the latest casualty in baseball’s prioritizing efficiency over basic fairness. The league’s responses were way below anything players could think of for a fair deal.”
An MLB spokesperson released a statement of their own (Quoted by James Wagner from The New York Times):
MLB has worked to reach an agreement with the MLBPA to reform the international amateur system in ways that will address long-standing challenges and benefit future players. We are disappointed that the MLBPA chose the status quo rather than moving to an international draft that would guarantee future international players greater signing bonuses and better educational opportunities, while promoting transparency to better address the root causes of corruption in the current system.”
The system for acquiring international amateur players has been the subject of negotiations between the league and the federation for years. It was a particularly prevalent talking point in recent collective bargaining talks, with the league’s desire and the MLBPA’s opposition to an international draft emerging as a late sticking point in the parties’ efforts to finalize a new CBA last spring. Eventually, the parties agreed to table discussions on an international draft provisionally with ratification of the remainder of the CBA and ending the shutdown. The two sides gave themselves until July 25 to agree on a draft, on the condition that the free agents’ eligible supply system would be abolished if the draft was implemented.
It appears that no draft will be drawn up, even though the July 25 deadline was a mutually agreed date between the league and the union. could Check if they want to do so. The “final” terminology of the league proposal suggests that no further discussions are on the horizon, but it’s at least worth remembering that in March, the league rejected the MLB’s multiple CBA bids as the last proposal before the two parties finally agreed to step back and meet again in time. appropriate to avoid the eventual cancellation of regular season matches.
This certainly does not mean that the same process will take place in this case, especially since it seems that the parties were nowhere near acceptable terms. John Heyman reports from the New York Post (on TwitterThe MLBPA leadership was so unhappy with the league’s offer that it did not present it to players for an official vote, as the union leadership has the authority to do so. Federation leaders informed players’ representatives that they planned to decline the offer before formally doing so, according to Heyman, to which there were no objections.
It already appears that there is a huge gap between the two sides to bridge, primarily over the amount of money that will be allocated to signing bonuses. The league’s “ultimate” bid included the creation of a $191 million bonus pool to be distributed to players selected in the 20-round draft; The MLBPA was seeking $260 million. The league wanted fixed, fixed slots associated with each pick that could not be overridden or bypassed; The federation wanted the slot values to serve as a floor but provide flexibility for teams to go beyond space. In addition, there was a reported gap in the maximum proposed bonus for unregistered free agents – the league offered $20,000 and the MLBPA suggested $40,000.
MLB asserted that even the $191 million bonus pool would be a boon to players for the status quo, claiming that it would result in more than $20 million more going to international amateurs than would have been the case under the current system. The federation has faced bonuses to top international players that will remain deficient in comparison to local recruiting bonuses, and any public financial increase will face more than simply forfeiting international players of their ability to select their first team.
The league also expressed concern about motivating teams and players in the current system to verbally agree to deals long before players reach their 16th birthday. A draft capped would eliminate this occurrence, but the union believed that stricter enforcement against verbal agreements would achieve the same purpose without the need for a draft.
If this truly marks the end of negotiations, the status quo for both the international amateur setup and the qualifying bid will remain. This is a notable development for the upcoming free agent markets, where teams will still have to forfeit draft picks and/or international signing bonus space to sign players who have received and rejected QO. The MLBPA sought to remove that non-cash cost associated with adding any free agents, but this did not prove sufficient incentive for the federation to agree to seeing the league for an international draft. Even if this closes the book on the issue for a while, it stands to reason that the university’s desire to draft will surface again during future CBA negotiations.