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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Calcaterra: MLB willing to give up “significant concessions” to get a worldwide draft

Buster Olney adds some info to the news we heard yesterday about the league and the union’s negotiations to institute and international draft:

Buster Olney     ✔ @Buster_ESPN

Major League Baseball said by sources to be willing to give up significant concessions to union to make international draft happen.

Buster Olney     ✔ @Buster_ESPN

In return for that international draft, union could get increased minimum salary, less service time required for arbitration, and more.

I still don’t get this. Teams simply don’t spend that much on international free agent signings. They do spend a lot in arbitration and all teams have lots of players making the minimum or thereabouts. It doesn’t seem like giving away things like that make financial sense when compared to the relative small dollars given to guys on the international market.

Meanwhile, the players have, historically, liked to see more guys subject to the draft and have always been willing to negotiate away the rights of others like this. So why do they need big giveaways like this? I know why they’d want them, but MLB can’t think they have to give away that much, can it?

Thanks to Butch.

Repoz Posted: March 19, 2013 at 06:51 AM | 91 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business

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   1. eddieot Posted: March 19, 2013 at 08:48 AM (#4391026)
The fact that the last CBA negotiations took up this topic and punted it shows that the owners and players are pretty far apart on this. I would think that a lot of the blow-back on the union side is not necessarily from the players but from the agents, who wield a lot of power as a bloc. A fully slotted international draft would essentially nullify the agents' necessity during the draft, and end the occasional lottery tickets of international signings like Cespedes and Darvish. MLB should have to give some significant concessions to end the negotiating rights of an entire globe of players. If only our Congress understood that negotiations should hurt both sides equally.
   2. John Northey Posted: March 19, 2013 at 08:50 AM (#4391028)
Could be that more is spent on international players than we know. From scouting to baseball academy's as well as the bonus' and the raw number of players signed in hopes of getting that winning lottery ticket. Also, a draft could delay the signing from 16 to 17 or 18 giving teams a better idea of what they are getting before they sign the player. MLB could set up academy's on their own and close down most team based ones thus costing all teams the price of one instead of 30 per country/territory. MLB might also be seeing a strong future for international players - not just from Japan but also Europe and other places. An international draft would clear up a lot of those things.

Now, as to what players would require to allow it, I suspect the players are being hard nosed on it as they know this is one of the few items they have left that is worth anything significant to the owners. The minimum salary is what I'd be chasing if I was the players as that affects the highest number of players. Pushing arbitration back to 2 years instead of 2+ would seem crazy to me for the owners to give up, but the owners might feel they can manipulate it easier (the old down until mid-April then called up trick vs the guesswork it is now).

As a fan a draft is more fun - easier to evaluate than the 'did so and so sign yet' thing we have now. But, as a fan of a team with a smart GM (the Jays) I can see them taking advantage of the current system easier than taking advantage of a new one. Still, the smart GM's will find loopholes in any system.
   3. zack Posted: March 19, 2013 at 09:07 AM (#4391040)
Uh, who cares what MLB and the PA want? Isn't the institution of the draft on Puerto Rico seen as a large factor in the decline of baseball there? Or am I mistaken? Think what would happen to baseball if a similar situation played out in the DR and Venezuela?

Here's a times article from 2012, and a MLB.com article from 2007.
   4. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 09:14 AM (#4391045)
Yet another visionary move by Bud that would sacrifice the long-term interest of the game in favor of a short-term financial benefit. Who could have predicted it?
   5. Group Captain Mandrake Posted: March 19, 2013 at 09:15 AM (#4391046)
How would this work with Cubans? Do you draft them in the hopes they defect, or do you wait until they do?
   6. JJ1986 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 09:26 AM (#4391050)
How would this work with Cubans? Do you draft them in the hopes they defect, or do you wait until they do?


I would imagine that Cubans wouldn't be eligible. The problem would be that most defectors establish Dominican (or some other country not currently eligible for the draft) residency. If they did that after this, they'd probably become draft eligible then (like Onelkys Garcia last year). Or all the Cubans would start signing in the Japanese League.
   7. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 19, 2013 at 09:31 AM (#4391053)
Could be that more is spent on international players than we know. From scouting to baseball academy's as well as the bonus' and the raw number of players signed in hopes of getting that winning lottery ticket. Also, a draft could delay the signing from 16 to 17 or 18 giving teams a better idea of what they are getting before they sign the player. MLB could set up academy's on their own and close down most team based ones thus costing all teams the price of one instead of 30 per country/territory. MLB might also be seeing a strong future for international players - not just from Japan but also Europe and other places. An international draft would clear up a lot of those things.

Oh goody, less resources for player development! Just what a fan wants to hear!
   8. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 19, 2013 at 09:45 AM (#4391060)
1. If there's going to be an international draft, I think I'd prefer it to be distinct from the domestic draft and with hard slotting. Am willing to be persuaded on this point.
2. Isn't the institution of the draft on Puerto Rico seen as a large factor in the decline of baseball there? Yes. I think it's overstated as a cause, but certainly a, if not the, contributing factor.
3. I presume MLB would allow players who meet certain age/experience criteria to not be subject to the draft (NPB, KBO, older Cubans), as they are not currently subject to the signing pool. Should tweak defection patterns though, in the latter case.
4. I am okay with MLB landing a few less athletes as a result of initiatives like this (guys who instead play basketball or whatever). Most fans, I suspect, 'should' not be.
5. Not sure what would happen with team academies. Having a few MLB academies would make sense, I think.
   9. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: March 19, 2013 at 09:48 AM (#4391066)
Oh goody, less resources for player development! Just what a fan wants to hear!

When I think about MLB and what it could to improve my experience as a fan, "fewer great players" is number one.
   10. tfbg9 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 09:57 AM (#4391077)
But, a strictly slotted international draft would be bad for the Yankees, right? There's that.
   11. DL from MN Posted: March 19, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4391105)
Shouldn't the MLBPA see a significant increase in the minimum salary anyway? $1M minimum would essentially institute a salary "floor".
   12. villageidiom Posted: March 19, 2013 at 10:33 AM (#4391107)
Oh goody, less resources for player development! Just what a fan wants to hear!
I read that as "More resources for player development spent within each organization, and less paid in, effectively, marketing costs to international free agents."
   13. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 19, 2013 at 10:36 AM (#4391109)
10: Do you mean compared to a pool (present day) or to the previous world where spending was largely unfettered by MLB? The Yankees were always more conservative w/ their spending here than I thought made sense - but it probably would hurt them slightly, relative to present day conditions.

If the drafts are combined and teams continue to lack hard slotting, you'll see teams pick int'l guys early - squeeze them on dollars - and use the surplus to land more expensive dudes (a blend of what the Astros did with Correa and what many teams did with seniors last year - it was like a donut hole in rounds 8-10 of the draft). I don't like weird structures like that...
   14. John Northey Posted: March 19, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4391114)
I suspect the 'fewer great players' argument is minimal. If a player has the talent they tend to get found. The best academy on earth couldn't change, say, John McDonald into a 10 time all-star. Likewise, someone who is a star calibre player will normally get found, academy or not. Right now the academy's are pushing kids at young ages to drop everything for a shot at MLB. Now, in some countries their future may not have many options but to risk everything for a 1% shot (at best) for glory is crazy. I'm glad MLB stopped signing 14 year olds awhile back - I remember a shortstop Jimy Kelly (B-R has him as Jimmy Kelly but I remember the media having fun with him being a one M like the manager) who the Jays signed at 14 and sent to the Gulf Coast League...he made it to AA by 17 but was out of baseball by his age 19 season. He had one spring training with the Jays where he played a lot for some reason. Guys like him gave up their teenage years and ended up with nothing - he never got a ML paycheque, wouldn't have finished high school, and at 20 would've had to find a 'real job' when he did nothing but baseball from the age of 14 (if not earlier). Yeah, he has a great story now but I suspect that is all he has from it.

If fewer Jimy Kelly's get shots I'm fine with it. Or if more guys like him are allowed to grow up first before being sent to a foreign country I'm also fine with that. The hard slotting I'm not in favour of as the first deal these kids get is probably their best deal, but at least they'll know where they rank going in. Ideally you'd make it a mix-and-match with one draft for all players - that way if a Dominican is the best non-pro player he will get the best deal. Also, hopefully, if a player has the talent some US colleges will chase him down and offer a scholarship (as some won't sign for whatever reason) leading to a potential future if he takes advantage. There can be positives, it all depends on how it is run.
   15. bookbook Posted: March 19, 2013 at 10:51 AM (#4391127)
I, for one, would accept an international draft in exchange for tripling minor league salaries, and adding a whole foods nutrition coach to each team (1 for all A through majors should be sufficient)
   16. Gamingboy Posted: March 19, 2013 at 10:56 AM (#4391139)
"We're helping internationalize baseball with the WBC, now we must institute a international draft to make sure we don't internationalize too much! Brilliant!"
   17. Brian Oliver Posted: March 19, 2013 at 11:01 AM (#4391144)
I still don't know how MLB could logistically handle an international draft. Seems perfect opportunity for abuse
   18. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 19, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4391153)
My first reaction to this is a question: If we look at the way pro basketball and hockey deal with international players, what is applicable/not applicable to MLB? How have the NHL and NBA improved that process over the years? Compared to MLB, what percentage of NBA players are non-Americans? What percentage of NHL players are non-American/Canadian?

The Cuba wrinkle is probably unique to baseball, because of the lack of basketball and hockey talent coming from Cuba, and the high level of baseball talent developed in Cuba.
   19. Styles P. Deadball Posted: March 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4391163)
How would this work with Cubans? Do you draft them in the hopes they defect, or do you wait until they do?


In the old days in hockey, Soviets and Czechs were drafted while still behind the Iron Curtain. They were usually drafted pretty late given their talent level, but eventually those lottery tickets cashed in.

For example, Vladislav Tretiak was owned by the Canadiens. They never got him because he tried to play by the rules and come over after his playing career was over for the USSR. Peter Stastny got on the phone with the Nordiques while playing a tournament in Austria and told them to come pick his ass up.
   20. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 19, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4391166)
I think the main purpose here is to cripple or eliminate the buscones system. Obviously MLB's interest in doing this is cost related but it might not be a bad thing overall. It will be pretty tricky to implement a MLB development system on the same scale as the team-run camps.
   21. Squash Posted: March 19, 2013 at 12:03 PM (#4391244)
I think the main purpose here is to cripple or eliminate the buscones system.

I think it's also that MLB might be trying to head off a long-term PR issue. The difference between MLB and the NHL/NBA is that those two leagues up until now have only been drafting from developed nations into in a sport/system where the player has a pretty good chance of making their major league (an excellent chance in basketball), whereas in baseball the business is in independent operators (the teams) getting into very young uneducated kids from undeveloped nations who have a very small chance of making the major leagues. Sooner or later someone's going to make an issue over this and there's going to be some ugly stuff revealed (such as the article we had a month or so back about the kid dying in someone's camp). What happens, god forbid, if some sort of sexual predator scandal comes out in some team's camp/academy (we use the word "academy" for the PR sop it is)? That would be a pretty horrible thing for baseball - obviously having MLB running the program doesn't remove that risk, but at the moment everything feels a little loosey-goosey. The money is a huge issue of course but I bet they also want to formalize the system as much as possible so the league has some influence over disaster scenarios - whether of course the MLB league office would actually any kind of decent job heading off disaster scenarios is another question entirely.
   22. Randy Jones Posted: March 19, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4391259)
The NHL is much more like MLB in terms of drafting young kids who might never make the "major" league and having a well developed minor league system than the NBA or NFL. Also, there have been multiple sexual scandals involving young players and junior hockey coaches.



As to this worldwide MLB draft idea. Clearly the owners think it will save them money somehow. Vlad is totally correct in [4].
   23. villageidiom Posted: March 19, 2013 at 12:23 PM (#4391274)
How does an international draft affect the NPB posting system? I'd think it would shift heavily in favor of the player.

EDIT: and the MLB team. There's likely to be a price point higher than the player gets now, and lower than the MLB team pays now, where a deal gets done. The NPB teams lose out.
   24. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 12:26 PM (#4391279)
I still don't know how MLB could logistically handle an international draft. Seems perfect opportunity for abuse


How would there be more abuse with a draft?
   25. Squash Posted: March 19, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4391286)
The NHL is much more like MLB in terms of drafting young kids who might never make the "major" league and having a well developed minor league system than the NBA or NFL. Also, there have been multiple sexual scandals involving young players and junior hockey coaches.

Like I said, MLB taking control doesn't remove the possibility of issues, but right now I imagine the league office feels at the mercy of issues happening in venues they have no control over, and clearly the MLB head office (like all head offices everywhere) is very big on control. And I agreed the money issue is huge too. Though scandals are a money issue as well. I don't recall a financially poor uneducated kid ever dying of a preventable health issue in an NHL team's minor league hockey camp held in an impoverished foreign third world nation - if you think MLB didn't notice that article (and similar other stories we no doubt haven't been privy to over the years) and imagine similar but worse scenarios, I'd say you're wrong. PR means money too in the end.

If you're comparing the two drafts, the NHL goes 7 international rounds for a 23-man "major league" roster. The MLB draft goes 40 domestic rounds for a 25 man roster and then add on maybe 20-30 kids per team (I have no idea what the actual numbers are) per year into their academies. There's not a huge comparison between the two, though yes the NHL is clearly a worse chance than the NBA or NFL.
   26. Tripon Posted: March 19, 2013 at 12:37 PM (#4391288)
There's two ways to dismantle the buscones system, you either let MLB declare a draft, particularly in Latin America, or you allow MLB teams to sign players as young as 6 and let them set up their own baseball academies, like they do in Soccer.

Each option is perverse, but so is the current buscones system.
   27. Brian Oliver Posted: March 19, 2013 at 12:37 PM (#4391289)
How would there be more abuse with a draft?


How could MLB ensure players aren't hidden or misrepresented in the new system? We know it's exploited now but whenever ML tries to control something, they inevitable create more problems they they are trying to solve. It just seems with the issues dealing with proof of birth in many of the Latin American countries that trying to create some sort of registry for an international draft would exacerbate that challenge
   28. Brian Oliver Posted: March 19, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4391293)
What countries comprise the bulk of the NHL international market? And how does those countries compare to the Latin American countries when it comes to things like accurately tracking identities?
   29. Randy Jones Posted: March 19, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4391306)
What countries comprise the bulk of the NHL international market?


Without looking it up, Russia, Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic.
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4391308)
There's two ways to dismantle the buscones system, you either let MLB declare a draft, particularly in Latin America, or you allow MLB teams to sign players as young as 6 and let them set up their own baseball academies, like they do in Soccer.

Each option is perverse, but so is the current buscones system.


Why is a draft perverse? It seems to fairest of all options.
   31. Randy Jones Posted: March 19, 2013 at 12:54 PM (#4391315)
Why is a draft perverse? It seems to fairest of all options.


Except to the players, whose incomes are artificially deflated by orders of magnitude for several years(in the best cases and forever in most cases).
   32. Swedish Chef Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:01 PM (#4391327)
Without looking it up, Russia, Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic.

There Slovakia too.
   33. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4391331)
Except to the players, whose incomes are artificially deflated by orders of magnitude for several years(in the best cases and forever in most cases).

Well, that's an argument against the US draft too; not about extending it to the world.

If the draft eliminates the buscones' cut, it might actually put more money in the players' pockets, even if total bonuses fall. IIRC, the buscones take about 50%, so if the players migrate to real agents who take 5-10%, the upside is pretyy big.
   34. Randy Jones Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:12 PM (#4391342)
What about kids who never get drafted because the academies close and they can't afford to spend their time playing baseball?

The downside is pretty big too. The draft is bad in the US, but it could be really harmful to development of baseball players in poorer countries.
   35. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:14 PM (#4391343)
What about kids who never get drafted because the academies close and they can't afford to spend their time playing baseball?

Why do you assume fewer players will be drafted than are currently signed?
   36. cmd600 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4391345)
I suspect the 'fewer great players' argument is minimal. If a player has the talent they tend to get found. The best academy on earth couldn't change, say, John McDonald into a 10 time all-star. Likewise, someone who is a star calibre player will normally get found, academy or not.


But the difference between John McDonald and that 10 time all star as a 10-13 year old may not be that big. A lot of these guys are this good because they did get to play baseball and had great coaching 24/7. Robinson Canos are not just born, glove and bat in hand. It takes a lot of work beyond natural ability.

I agree that the more we can do to teach these kids important skills beyond baseball is for the better. But the problem isn't just that some kids are choosing ball over school. A lot of kids are choosing something besides school.

For every 100 Dominican children entering formal education, only 75 complete grade 4; 63 complete grade 6 and only 52 complete the 8-year primary level. This situation is even worse in rural areas where most schools stop at grade 5
   37. Randy Jones Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:16 PM (#4391350)
Why do you assume fewer players will be drafted than are currently signed?


Why do you assume the buscones won't still get a cut?
   38. micker17 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4391355)
In the current free for all system of purchasing lottery ticket international players, the big winners are the agents. The big losers are the poorer MLB teams.

A draft with strict slotting takes $ directly from Scott Boras types and gives it to the owners. This is not a bad thing.

If a formula can determine how much MLB owners will save with a slotting draft, 50% of it should be passed on to the Union. This can be in the form of a higher minimum salary, or even better as suggested in #15, a massive increase in minor league salaries.

An international draft is an idea whose implementation is long overdue.

Additionally, how much of a cut do Dominican kids give to their local "advisors"? From what I've read, most of these contracts are unconscionable. MLB could enact a clause limiting the % an international player is allowed under the law to turn over to these sharks. It's possible that with an international draft, the young kids may actually come out with more $ in their pocket.
   39. billyshears Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:25 PM (#4391371)
I still don’t get this. Teams simply don’t spend that much on international free agent signings. They do spend a lot in arbitration and all teams have lots of players making the minimum or thereabouts. It doesn’t seem like giving away things like that make financial sense when compared to the relative small dollars given to guys on the international market.

Meanwhile, the players have, historically, liked to see more guys subject to the draft and have always been willing to negotiate away the rights of others like this. So why do they need big giveaways like this? I know why they’d want them, but MLB can’t think they have to give away that much, can it?


1. Once MLB gets this, they get it for good. It's a win forever. The minimum salary is going to go up at some point. They're just offering to accelerate the timeline. I'll believe the owners give in on arbitration service requirements when I see it.

2. I have a suspicion that MLB players who came up as international signings when they knew that baseball might be their only way out of poverty may be a bit more reluctant to bargain away the rights of their 16 year old countrymen who are following in their footsteps than American players.
   40. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:28 PM (#4391375)
A draft with strict slotting takes $ directly from Scott Boras types and gives it to the owners. This is not a bad thing.


A draft with any sort of slotting or capping is all about taking $ directly from the wrong sort of people (stupid jocks and smelly foreign types accustomed to squalor) and giving it t the right sort of people (well groomed, sophisticated, heroes of capitalism). Some people think that is not a bad thing but there hasn't been an oppressive system in the history of civilization that didn't have it's advocates.
   41. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:28 PM (#4391376)
Why do you assume the buscones won't still get a cut?

What role is there for them? I assume the players would use actual agents at age-18, like the US amateurs. And those guys take a much smaller cut.

The whole arb of instituting the draft is that there is a huge cut of the total pie going to a set of people (buscones) who basically add no value, and have no influence in the US. If MLB can cut them out, they can pay the players more, and still save money.
   42. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4391382)
From what I've read, most of these contracts are unconscionable.

So, the solution for unconscionable contracts is to give Latin-American players even worse ones? Puerto Rico sure isn't thankful that they were saved from all these "unfair" contracts.

   43. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4391383)
A draft with any sort of slotting or capping is all about taking $ directly from the wrong sort of people (stupid jocks and smelly foreign types accustomed to squalor) and giving it t the right sort of people (well capitalized, sophisticated, heroes of capitalism). Some people think that is not a bad thing but there hasn't been an oppressive system in the history of civilization that didn't have it's advocates.

Sure, much better to lets the local buscones steal 50% of these kids money than have the evil white man take 25%.
   44. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:33 PM (#4391386)
If MLB can cut them out, they can pay the players more, and still save money.

Except there's absolutely no reason to believe that this would actually happen. If you think that baseball teams are going to give players more as a result of destroying any leverage or rights the players have, a process started by last year's CBA change, I've got a whole lotta bridges to sell you.
   45. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4391388)
Yes, we're all so concerned about the buscones. What can be done but to turn the fiscal futures of these poor third world players over to the enlightened Budscones, who can be counted on to take up the white man's burden in only the fairest of ways.
   46. Randy Jones Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:45 PM (#4391410)
What role is there for them? I assume the players would use actual agents at age-18, like the US amateurs. And those guys take a much smaller cut.

Ok, you misunderstood my previous posts. The kids in question are poor, so poor, that most can't afford to stay in school and have to go to work at a young age (see [36]). Currently, the ones who show some talent for baseball go academies run by teams where they are provided food and lodging (and I believe some general eductation, not sure on that) and they can then practice baseball, a lot. Once the draft is instituted, teams have no reason to fund these academies. The academies go away, the kids can't afford to practice baseball, they don't get drafted. Instead, you'll see buscones provide some of these kids with food and lodging and coach them in baseball in exchange for a portion of their signing bonus etc. Baseball can try to ban that practice, but then it will just be the most immoral/criminal buscones who continue it.


Sure, much better to lets the local buscones steal 50% of these kids money than have the evil white man take 25%.

This assumes the money will be the same. With a hard slotted draft, it won't. Which would you rather, 50% of $1M or 75% of $250K?
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:45 PM (#4391412)
Except there's absolutely no reason to believe that this would actually happen. If you think that baseball teams are going to give players more as a result of destroying any leverage or rights the players have, a process started by last year's CBA change, I've got a whole lotta bridges to sell you.

The teams can spend less and the players get more. If the Buscones are taking 50%, and a real agent will take 10%, then you pay the players 40% more, while the owners spend 20% less.

e.g. current system: player signs for $100, Buscone takes $50, player gets system. new system: player signs for $80, agent take $8, player gets $72.
   48. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4391419)
Ok, you misunderstood my previous posts. The kids in question are poor, so poor, that most can't afford to stay in school and have to go to work at a young age (see [36]). Currently, the ones who show some talent for baseball go academies run by teams where they are provided food and lodging (and I believe some general eductation, not sure on that) and they can then practice baseball, a lot. Once the draft is instituted, teams have no reason to fund these academies. The academies go away, the kids can't afford to practice baseball, they don't get drafted. Instead, you'll see buscones provide some of these kids with food and lodging and coach them in baseball in exchange for a portion of their signing bonus etc. Baseball can try to ban that practice, but then it will just be the most immoral/criminal buscones who continue it.

I'm assuming MLB will continue academies, like they are doing in inner-city America.
   49. tfbg9 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4391420)
Yes, we're all so concerned about the buscones. What can be done but to turn the fiscal futures of these poor third world players over to the enlightened Budscones, who can be counted on to take up the white man's burden in only the fairest of ways.


Yes, indeed, and of course the motivation for your "view" isn't simply to keep a system in place that favors all the rich teams, and of course most favors the richest team, The Yankees.*


*YR's wardrobe provided by The Gap for Kids
   50. Randy Jones Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:51 PM (#4391429)
I'm assuming MLB will continue academies, like they are doing in inner-city America.


Seriously doubt MLB will continue all the academies. Every "spot" in an academy that is lost is one kid that has to go to work to survive and never gets a chance at baseball.
   51. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4391436)
The Pope's Bootlick is more an happy to perpetuate any system that causes the poor to suffer. How we are enlightened through their suffering! But of course let's talk about the Yankees, the real oppressors here, who shamefully want to lavish these peasants with soul-threatening windfalls. Rich men and camels and needles and all of that. Fight the good fight you disingenuous lout.
   52. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4391443)
Most of the focus on this thread is on the international draft, and I think some good points are being raised. But the concessions seem ludicrous. Wouldn't quicker arbitration be terribly expensive, particularly for small market clubs that try to grow their own players? I can't imagine why they would sign off on this.

If the MLBPA wants a concession, why not a salary floor? I can't imagine MLB thinks its good from a PR stand point to have the Astros running a barebones operation right now.
   53. Randy Jones Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:09 PM (#4391462)
MLBPA doesn't want a salary floor, because they believe it opens the door for a cap. They are possibly right in this and so definitely right to avoid a salary floor. Raising the minimum salary is the alternative they would go for.
   54. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4391464)
I think buscones will still get a healthy chunk of cash, if less than before. Players will still want to be showcased, trained... That said, diminishing their influence is clearly part of the motivation here (though, ultimately, it's about cost control).

The loss of talents from baseball is largely about substitution effects. As bonuses fall, some potential players will pursue other things (contributed to the increased popularity of basketball in PR).

Team academies may stick around - to train their foreign signees. It's not like they'd want to bring everyone over to the US from day one (or would have the visas to do so) + they may want to leverage existing facilities.

Randy, I don't think players will allow the foreign "pools" to get as low as you're predicting.
   55. Randy Jones Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:16 PM (#4391474)
Randy, I don't think players will allow the foreign "pools" to get as low as you're predicting.


If MLB offers to lower the time to arbitration, I bet the MLBPA would agree to a $100 limit on international draft bonuses.
   56. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4391475)

Randy, I don't think players will allow the foreign "pools" to get as low as you're predicting.


Concur. They didn't negotiate down the total slotting for US draftees. Teams are spending more now than before, it's just distributed differently among the MLB teams.
   57. JJ1986 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:22 PM (#4391487)
They didn't negotiate down the total slotting for US draftees. Teams are spending more now than before, it's just distributed differently among the MLB teams.


That's not accurate. They spent $208m last year, 12% less than 2011.
   58. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:24 PM (#4391491)
55 - Heh.
As a corollary to snapper's note, the addition of bonus pools did not hugely diminish foreign spending - I think that's a signal as to what MLB is preparing to do (maybe diminished slightly, but not significantly).^

Part of why I like hard slots if you're going to have a int'l draft anyway, is:
* it reduces the power of advisors, which should result in their getting a smaller cut
* this isn't a population with as a rich of an set of potential options as US draftees - teams may want the ability to offer more money w/ the current draft to get a guy to pass on college/further college/other sports ... here, it'd be about money now v. potentially waiting to improve your draft position for many kids. (It also should push some kids to the US college system, which has benefits.)


^ coke to jj'86.
   59. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:29 PM (#4391501)

That's not accurate. They spent $208m last year, 12% less than 2011.


And up from 2010 ($196M), 2009 ($189M) and 2008 ($188M).

2011 was a fluke year as it was the last chance for teams to splurge. The caps were set above the long-term average.
   60. Randy Jones Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4391504)
I thought last year there were still no bonus limits for international signings or the penalties for going over the limit were greatly reduced?

(It also should push some kids to the US college system, which has benefits.)

Only if those kids can afford to pay for college. Baseball players don't get full scholarships like football/basketball players. from the "Baseball struggles to reach black America" thread:
Under NCAA rules, Division I baseball programs are allowed 11.7 scholarships to divide among a roster of about 35 players. In contrast, football offers 85 full scholarships for a roster of 70 and basketball offers 13 full scholarships for a roster of 15.
   61. cmd600 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4391508)
I think buscones will still get a healthy chunk of cash, if less than before. Players will still want to be showcased, trained


Agree. I wasn't getting why people compared American agents to buscones upthread. The latter takes on a much bigger role in getting a player a contract. The Buscones as a whole are taking more than they should, but they deserve more than what an agent typically gets.
   62. Gamingboy Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4391510)
I also have to think that, if there was a draft, you'd see more of the private, buscone-run academies in the DR.

After all, even with a hard-slotted draft, it's likely that the money gained for a good ballplayer would be far more than they could get, say, working as a farmer or trying to run the family store. However, I shutter to think of what types of abuse the Buscones would do.

I'm sure that, unlike with Puerto Rico where the visas aren't a problem, the academies- at least for some teams- would stay open, partially as a way to scout, partially as a way to get game time in before visa issues are worked out, and partially as a PR move. And I'm sure some teams would try to find a way to "hide" certain players too...
   63. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4391512)
Agree. I wasn't getting why people compared American agents to buscones upthread. The latter takes on a much bigger role in getting a player a contract. The Buscones as a whole are taking more than they should, but they deserve more than what an agent typically gets.

But, in a system with a slotted draft and MLB academies, that bigger role largely goes away.
   64. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:42 PM (#4391539)
I thought last year there were still no bonus limits for international signings or the penalties for going over the limit were greatly reduced?

Penalties weren't as strong as they will be but they were significant enough that only one team has done so (TB).

Only if those kids can afford to pay for college.

Nature finds a way. It does happen, occasionally, with non-rich kids today... I rambled in the WBC threads about WOSCC, which regularly lands guys from Curacao today - you'd see more of that sort of thing.

I agree with 62. That's another reason I thing hard slots w/ an int'l draft is the way to go - players will not want to be hid.
   65. cmd600 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:56 PM (#4391566)
And I'm sure some teams would try to find a way to "hide" certain players too


No doubt about it.
http://www.prorumors.com/2010/04/rumors/braves-hid-in-backyards-to-scout-jason-heyward-and-jeff-francoeur/
   66. cmd600 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4391574)
Nature finds a way. It does happen, occasionally, with non-rich kids today


Middle class kids are coming out of undergrad with more debt than most can handle. What makes you think some broke kid from the DR is going to take that risk?
   67. JJ1986 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4391582)
http://www.prorumors.com/2010/04/rumors/braves-hid-in-backyards-to-scout-jason-heyward-and-jeff-francoeur/


Heyward was a top prospect according to everyone, so the Braves really failed at hiding him.
   68. Gamingboy Posted: March 19, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4391585)
I actually read a bit about how the Dodgers tried to hide Roberto Clemente way back when in an effort to not get him Rule V drafted. Like, they'd purposely sit him whenever there was the slightest suspicion of major scouts being around, and when he did play the manager and front office would always be sure to praise other players more.
   69. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 19, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4391589)
What makes you think some broke kid from the DR is going to take that risk?
My understanding is that one way that colleges currently try to compensate for limited athletic scholarships in baseball is by coupling it with need based aid. I bet a lot of these kids have need.
I do not know how that they aren't US citizens comes into play - nor how to deal with frequent gaps in academics and language. (The school I cited above is a juco in the hinterlands of Oklahoma.)
I'm not claiming it would become common - not at all - just more common.

**

Everybody knew about Heyward and Francoeur, as 67 noted.
   70. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 19, 2013 at 03:10 PM (#4391599)
   71. cmd600 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4391618)
Heyward was a top prospect according to everyone, so the Braves really failed at hiding him.


A top prospect, but not the guy who should have gone #2 overall that year.

The Braves rated Heyward the best draft-eligible player in the country, ahead of more highly publicized prospects such as Vanderbilt pitcher David Price and high school third baseman Josh Vitters. Somehow, no other club rated Heyward that highly. How could that be? Baldwin smiled wryly when asked that question, paused a moment or two and finally said, "Ummm, what can I say and what can't I? ... Years from now I'll tell you."

The Braves have a cozy relationship with their backyard friends at East Cobb. Since 2000 they have drafted 18 players out of the program. They donate equipment to the organization through their foundation. Braves president and former general manager John Schuerholz sent his son, Jonathan, to play at East Cobb. Atlanta's scouts regularly attend tournaments and workouts there.

"We started really concentrating on East Cobb about 10 years ago," Schuerholz says. "We said, 'This is one of the top amateur programs in the country. Let's make sure we're at the forefront of culling talent out of our own backyard.' We were able to do that for a few years. And all things being equal, we may take the East Cobb player over another player if only because we see them so much and know them so well."

Eugene Heyward believes he knows why other teams were not as high on his son as the Braves: Baldwin and the team quietly downplayed his ability and visibility. They sandbagged the competition. "Roy Clark was a very shrewd man," Eugene says. "They wouldn't update his size information. I believe Jason went to a [showcase event] and was listed at 6'1", 198. Jason was 6'1", 198 maybe two months in his life. The Braves did an excellent job. They lowballed his size.

"Guerry played a part in that. He'd say, 'If you go hit for the Marlins, they're going to pick you.' Guerry is a Braves man. He and Clark and those guys, they did a number."

Says one general manager who passed on drafting Heyward, "The Braves have a history of doing that. [Georgia native Adam] Wainwright's medicals were bad—until it was their turn to pick. They did it with Francoeur and McCann. It's good baseball. They're good at it. You can go ask anybody in baseball and nobody had [Heyward] above Price and Vitters and those guys. He was not in the top five group."

But didn't other teams watch him play? Yes, but in his high school season before the draft, Heyward rarely saw pitches to hit. "I told Jason, 'You have to take your walks,'" Baldwin says. "'You can't change who you are. If scouts aren't smart enough to see that, tough. That's their fault.' He was smart enough not to fall into that trap. Most think, All these people are here to see me hit. They don't want to see me walk."


From SI

For #69 - And as far I know, "need based aid" to most college students is a couple big loans.
   72. Swedish Chef Posted: March 19, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4391622)
What makes you think some broke kid from the DR is going to take that risk?

Because the upside is unlimited and the downside is that you are a slightly older broke kid from the DR?
   73. JJ1986 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 03:28 PM (#4391632)
A top prospect, but not the guy who should have gone #2 overall that year.


Yeah, but if they manage to suppress his ranking from 2nd to 9th, that still doesn't really help a team picking 14th. They got Heyward because Milwaukee and Colorado made bad reach-picks.
   74. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 19, 2013 at 03:31 PM (#4391636)
I'm getting away from what "should" be the gist of this thread - I don't foresee a big influx of Dominican or Venezuelan students. But...

In the two year old link I posted (again, juco, not a 4-year college. Jucos make more sense here because of redraftability, lower costs, and different academic standards):
D1 jucos cover tuition and room and board
D2 covers tuition, not room and board
D2 schools allow for 24 scholarships (contrast that to D1).
Room and board at this D2 school is $1875/semester. Int'l students are not eligible for pell grants. The kid would need to find a way to get to the school and would presumably need to work in order to afford other living expenses (I presume they could find a way to work under their visa), but this seems like a viable model both for schools and kids (provided that they can get identified).

****

If you're good enough to be ranked 9th nationally - teams have watched the #### out of you - you couldn't have been hidden.
   75. cmd600 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 04:01 PM (#4391672)
Yeah, but if they manage to suppress his ranking from 2nd to 9th, that still doesn't really help a team picking 14th. They got Heyward because Milwaukee and Colorado made bad reach-picks.


I'm not sure where you're getting 9th from. Even if Milwaukee and Colorado make good picks, the only other team showing much interest in Heyward that high was the Marlins.

And I think you guys are taking the definition of "hiding" to the extreme. The Braves could sandbag a stateside kid that should by all accounts have been easy to scout, teams sure as hell are going to ramp that up in the Carribean come draft time.
   76. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 19, 2013 at 04:06 PM (#4391676)
BA ranked him 9th pre-draft. [ link ]

There are gradations of hiding, sure. Its use here, however, is beyond the pale.

That said, it's very reasonable to think that the Braves had more knowledge of kids in the East Cobb program than other clubs - simply because they consciously focused efforts on enhanced regional scouting, it's a longstanding part of their philosophy.
   77. cmd600 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4391698)
BA ranked him 9th pre-draft


And still had him projected to go 14th, with only the Marlins (at 12) being an earlier possibility. I don't know how that doesn't scream to you that teams are lacking important information. Mix that with the quotes above, including from Heyward's father himself, I don't see how you can think the Braves weren't in on preventing teams from acquiring that info.

Fine, they didn't prevent other teams from being able to see him, so I won't refer to it as hiding. But they did a damn good job at controlling the information about him, and at some point even promoting misinformation.
   78. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 19, 2013 at 04:37 PM (#4391718)
And still had him projected to go 14th, with only the Marlins (at 12) being an earlier possibility. I don't know how that doesn't scream to you that teams are lacking important information.

So, does that means that other instances where their pre-draft rankings don't match up with their mock drafts are instances of players hiding guys or doing a damn good job of controlling information about them?

Also, as to information control - even I knew back then that Heyward didn't weigh 198, even if that's what BA listed him at, and I'm just a dude in his parents' basement (metaphorically). The posted bit takes claims at face value that I think are overstated.
   79. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 19, 2013 at 05:06 PM (#4391753)
It's hard to take a position on this news without a lot more information than a couple tweets and some rumors at MLBTR. Are we talking one worldwide draft or two drafts? Are all players eligible or would some or all of Cubans, Japanese, Koreans, and Mexicans be exempted? Would 16-year-old foreign players be eligible but not 16-year-old Americans and Canadians? Would players have to register or even declare for the draft, or could they be hidden? Will there be a cap on the bonuses of undrafted players?

All of the above aside, just from an administrative standpoint, it seems almost laughable that the same people who allowed the 2011 Onelkis Garcia draft-day fiasco to occur (and then needed 6-plus months to resolve it) now believe they're ready and able to administer a worldwide draft covering tens of thousands of eligible players.
   80. Walt Davis Posted: March 19, 2013 at 05:27 PM (#4391779)
On the concessions:

The minimum will be going up regardless so that's not much of a concession. Earlier arbitration is something I expect the MLBPA to fight for -- I don't think they have a choice now that teams seem to have finally figured out how much value they get out of pre-FA players. The compromise will probably be an escalating minimum based on service time -- which might actually screw over young fringe players in favor of older fringe players.

But that's pretty much what I think happens without the MLBPA giving up much. You might have to sweeten the pot to get an international draft.
   81. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 19, 2013 at 05:32 PM (#4391784)
The compromise will probably be an escalating minimum based on service time -- which might actually screw over young fringe players in favor of older fringe players.

Wouldn't it do the opposite? It seems like a lot of older fringe players would get passed over in favor of young fringe players, since the latter would be cheaper.
   82. DL from MN Posted: March 19, 2013 at 05:44 PM (#4391799)
a massive increase in minor league salaries.


I agree this would be an acceptable thing to get in return. A reduction in bonuses coupled with a tripling of salaries in the Dominican Summer League could be an improvement for both owners and players while hurting only the agents.
   83. tfbg9 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 06:13 PM (#4391827)
The Pope's Bootlick


Heh. Classy. And this, this idiocy, is straight from Higgs Bosun of a man who openly admires George Steinbrenner.
   84. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 19, 2013 at 06:29 PM (#4391840)
I agree this would be an acceptable thing to get in return. A reduction in bonuses coupled with a tripling of salaries in the Dominican Summer League could be an improvement for both owners and players while hurting only the agents.

The standard DSL salary is less than $3,000 for three months, so it would need to increase by a lot more than triple before the above would be a net win for players.
   85. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 19, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4391848)
I'm assuming MLB will continue academies, like they are doing in inner-city America.

Do many players come out of those American academies? Aren't they more of a PR effort to stir up interest and get kids into school or Babe Ruth/American Legion programs? Those programs don't exist in the DR. Will teams continue to fund DR academies when other teams can swoop in and draft "their" prospects? I wouldn't count on it.

The draft, in all its forms, is motivated by a desire to reduce labor costs. Competitive balance is just a smoke screen.


   86. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 19, 2013 at 06:50 PM (#4391854)
Do many players come out of those American academies? Aren't they more of a PR effort to stir up interest and get kids into school or Babe Ruth/American Legion programs?

No and yes.

Those programs don't exist in the DR. Will teams continue to fund DR academies when other teams can swoop in and draft "their" prospects? I wouldn't count on it.

It's a common misunderstanding, but the so-called academies in the D.R. and VZ are populated almost entirely by players who are already under contract with the team rather than places at which young players are taught the game over months or years. As such, I'd expect little or no change when it comes to the number or operation of the current MLB team facilities in the D.R. and VZ.
   87. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 06:50 PM (#4391855)

Heh. Classy. And this, this idiocy, is straight from Higgs Bosun of a man who openly admires George Steinbrenner.


Imagine if Mr. Steinbrenner utilized his vast resources and influence to cover up for Luis Polonia and Mel Hall. Then you'd surely admire him as a moral paragon.

And it's "boson" not "bosun".
   88. Gamingboy Posted: March 19, 2013 at 07:00 PM (#4391861)
I believe the urban academies have just recently opened like in the last five years...
   89. Walt Davis Posted: March 19, 2013 at 07:25 PM (#4391881)
Wouldn't it do the opposite? It seems like a lot of older fringe players would get passed over in favor of young fringe players, since the latter would be cheaper.

No. The current system gives teams a huge incentive to pick the $400,000 AAA reliever/bench guy over the $2 M veteran reliever/bench guy. If the ML minimum goes 750/1.5/2.5 for years 1,2,3 then there's little/no financial advantage to employing the young guy over the reliable vet. It also lowers the return on draft picks/prospects potentially leading to teams being more willing to surrender draft picks to sign an FA ... but that effect is probably pretty minimal. (I doubt they'll be able to get it up to $2.5 M but anything will cut into that return. $750/1/1.5 might be doable.)

The huge return on a Mike Trout will always be there under any system that resembles the current one so there's little the Union can do about that. But the Union may be concerned about the old guys who are still having decent seasons (e.g. 2011 Derrek Lee) but not getting any interest. The only way to protect fringe veterans is to make the old/young returns more equivalent ... and obviously the Union would rather do that by raising the salaries of young players than by forcing veterans to either retire or offer to work at competitive wages.

There were plenty of good baseball reasons not to give 2012 jobs to Lee, Renteria, Rowand, Miles, Vlad, OCab and Ordonez ... and some of them did get spring training invites ... but those decisions are even easier if we're talking about a $400,000 roll of the dice vs. a $1-2 M roll of the dice.
   90. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 19, 2013 at 07:44 PM (#4391892)
No. The current system gives teams a huge incentive to pick the $400,000 AAA reliever/bench guy over the $2 M veteran reliever/bench guy.

But why is the "$2M veteran reliever/bench guy" being paid $2M if there's no market for him and/or no graduated minimum salary based on service time?

The huge return on a Mike Trout will always be there under any system that resembles the current one so there's little the Union can do about that. But the Union may be concerned about the old guys who are still having decent seasons (e.g. 2011 Derrek Lee) but not getting any interest. The only way to protect fringe veterans is to make the old/young returns more equivalent ... and obviously the Union would rather do that by raising the salaries of young players than by forcing veterans to either retire or offer to work at competitive wages.

Fringe veterans would be protected if the choice was to pay a young guy $1M or a veteran $1M. But how would fringe veterans be protected if a graduated minimum requires teams to pay veterans more than younger players? A graduated minimum would bring back the same problem outlined in the first quote above.
   91. Bhaakon Posted: March 19, 2013 at 07:53 PM (#4391895)
In the current free for all system of purchasing lottery ticket international players, the big winners are the agents. The big losers are the poorer MLB teams.


I'm not sure that this is true at all, particularly with the current spending quotas in place. Yeah, theoretically the big spending teams could corner the market, but in practice the smarter small market teams also did quite well for themselves. If this article is correct about the league being willing to trade off the 6th year of team control or substantially raise the minimum salary, then those tradeoffs are going to disproportionately hurt small market clubs far more than the international amateur free for all ever did.

In fact, if those are the tradeoffs on the table, then I'm not really sure what MLB's goal is here. It's hard to imagine that international FAs are a bigger financial drain on teams than doubling rookie salaries or losing that last season of arbitration (which might be close to full FA price in most cases, but provides the hidden benefit of extra leverage in pre-FA extension deals). As Walt Davis states above, it would be a boon to the fringe veteran, who suddenly isn't THAT much more expensive than the rookie alternative, but I don't see why the league would care about that.

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