Draft Bonuses Still an Issue With the CBA

There is just one major issue remaining before the Major League Baseball owners and the players union agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and that issue is draft bonuses, according to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press.  Bud Selig has been pushing for a hard slotting system, and has said that the issue is “really critical” to him.  However, the players union is against the idea of limiting bonuses for amateurs.

The consensus seems to be that a hard slotting system won’t go through.  That’s what Buster Olney reported earlier this week, and Jim Callis of Baseball America has said the same thing.  Olney mentions that the feel among executives is doubt over Selig digging in and fighting for the issue.  The World Series could potentially end tomorrow, which would mark the start of free agency in the middle of next week.  Selig wanted to get a deal announced during the World Series, and we’ve heard before that they probably don’t want to extend the negotiations in to the free agency period, as teams won’t want to discuss deals unless a new CBA is in place.

It doesn’t need to be said that Pittsburgh Pirates fans should be pulling for the current draft bonus system.  The Pirates have taken advantage of the system more than any team over the last few years, spending the most in Major League Baseball over the last four drafts, including record setting deals in 2011, which included the biggest bonus ($8 M to Gerrit Cole), the biggest bonus outside of the first round ($5 M to Josh Bell), and the biggest overall spending for a single draft ($17 M).  With a hard slotting system, the Pirates don’t get guys like Josh Bell, or Clay Holmes for $1.2 M in the 9th round.  They don’t land Nick Kingham for $480 K in 2010, or Ryan Hafner for $450 K as a 17th rounder the same year.  Both pitchers put up impressive numbers in State College this year.

With that in mind, ideally we will see Selig drop the issue in the next week, opting to finalize the CBA before the off-season kicks off.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Anonymous

    I think it goes without saying that if a hard-slotting system was part of the CBA, you could pretty much put a sign on each entrance to PNC saying “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

  • Ian Rothermund

    It doesn’t surprise me that Selig is in favor of the hard slotted system, he seems to side with the “big money teams.”  I seriously doubt that a hard slotting system will go through, and it confounds me why the head a major sports league, like Selig, would be in favor of essentially taking talent away from the league as a whole.  Because if a hard slotting system were to go through, so many more young players would just choose to go to college.  Top end first rounders wouldn’t get the money that they’ve been getting, middle rounders who teased with the idea of going to college wouldn’t get the money they were after, so the only way to get the most money you could is to go to college and up your stock.  At that point, why wouldn’t they go to school?  The great players will get a lot of money towards their education, in some instances they get to be a relatively big deal (more so than if they were just some guy on a bench in State College), and in their minds, hopefully build their value when they can come out in a couple years.  While this would be a good thing for the NCAA, the MLB is not the NCAA, and is therefore not profiting from this system.  Since the beginning, gaining young, high school talent has been a part of the game.  Granted, the MLB draft has garnered considerably more attention in the last few years.  However, I find it difficult to see the MLB not suffering in some way, shape, or form, from limiting the collection of amateur talent.

    • Anonymous

      You hit it right on
      the head in regard to Selig and the “big money teams”. Why else would
      he fight for an issue that has no impact on his current players? The soft
      slotting system in place does give teams without deep pocket owners (forget
      market size) to attempt to maximize their dollars.

  • Anonymous

    The only thing I wonder about is what if the vast majority of teams start exceding what the Pirates are spending  and drives the cost of draft picks so high that the Pirates are at a disadvantage so much so that the Pirates will have to lead the charge for a hard slotting system ?

    • Tim Williams

      That wouldn’t really hurt the Pirates. They still have the exclusive rights to negotiate with their picks. This would just mean that they’d be less likely to land a guy like Josh Bell in the 2nd round.

      • Anonymous

        I’m just worried that the money might start getting out of hand like it did in the NFL

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