MLB and MLBPA fail to reach international draft agreement; free agent system to stay put

On Monday, the deadline for negotiating a new Major League Baseball international draft passed without an agreement in place. This means there will be no international draft and the current 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 these systems in exchange for an international draft.

The Major League Baseball Players Association, which had negotiated with MLB on an international draft, released the following statement after Monday’s deadline expired:

“The Players Association today rejected what MLB called a ‘final’ proposal to establish a draft and hard slot system for international participants.

“The players have made it clear from the outset that any international draft must significantly improve the status quo for these players and not discriminate unfairly between these players and domestic entrants. To this end, the Players Association has made a series proposals to protect and advance 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 as enforcement measures to fight corruption. We have also made proposals to compensate international signers more fairly and in line with other amateurs, and to ensure that all prospects have access to a safety net to player education and development.

“Basically, each of our proposals was focused on protecting against the scenario all players fear most – the erosion of our game on the world stage, with international players becoming the latest victim of baseball’s prioritization. to efficiency rather than fundamental fairness. The League’s responses fell far short of anything the players could consider a fair deal.”

In response to the union, MLB released its own statement:

“MLB has worked to reach an agreement with the MLBPA to reform the international amateur system in a way that addresses long-standing challenges and benefits future players. We are disappointed that the MLBPA has chosen the status quo over the transition to an international draft that would have guaranteed future international players bigger signing bonuses and better educational opportunities, while improving transparency to better address the root causes of corruption in the current system.”

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

In the end, the union likely decided that getting rid of the essentially modest anti-market restrictions on free agents wasn’t worth what amounted to a major wishlist item for the property. It’s at least theoretically possible that international draft negotiations could be revisited in the future, but until further notice, the matter is dead in MLB.

Neal T. Doss