Two updates on the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the draft slotting talks that are holding the agreement back:
–Jon Heyman tweets that MLB and the union aren’t far from a new CBA deal, but draft slotting is still a snag. Heyman mentions that Bud Selig is pushing for hard slotting, which we already knew. However, he also mentions that small market teams want hard slotting.
That last comment might seem strange to Pirates fans, who have watched their small market team take advantage of the draft like no other team, spending a league leading $48 M over the last four drafts. However, not all small market teams take advantage of the system, as seen in Baseball America’s breakdown of the draft spending from 2007-2011. While teams like the Pirates, Royals, and Orioles were in the top five in draft spending, teams like the Marlins, Athletics, and Twins were in the bottom half in draft spending, with each team spending less than half of what the Pirates spent.
It wasn’t that long ago that Pirates fans also wanted hard slotting. The Pirates passed on guys like Matt Wieters, all because of the negotiation process with Scott Boras. In 2004 the draft saw Jered Weaver, the number one overall prospect in the draft, fall to the 12th pick due to high bonus demands. It seems unlikely that the same thing would happen today, as teams seem to be more willing to go over-slot, especially in the first round. However, not every team approaches the draft the same way the Pirates have in the 2008-2011 years.
It’s really an issue of accepting the system for what it is, and taking advantage of that system. The current draft system is no different than free agency: it favors the big spending teams. Technically, the draft should see a change to put everyone on equal footing. However, without a change to free agency, a draft slotting system would just remove the advantage that small market teams have, even if not all of those teams are embracing the current system.
–Heyman also adds that MLB has offered to drop draft pick compensation attached to free agents, in exchange for draft slotting. However, he mentions that the union is against hard slotting. Am I the only one who finds it strange that it’s the union that is protecting the best interests of the Pirates in this situation?