From Craig Calcaterra for NBC Sports:
Maury Chass reports that Major League Baseball is putting the screws to the owners to keep signing bonuses down this year:
Bud Selig has repeatedly cautioned clubs about the economy, and at the owners’ meeting last Thursday he told them he was doing something about it and sternly advised them to listen. The commissioner told the owners that his office planned to roll back the recommended signing bonuses for the June 9 amateur draft by 10 percent . . . The clubs will get their rolled back numbers this week. The slotting system is confidential, and clubs aren’t supposed to know what figures other clubs are allotted.
As Chass notes, the slotting system — which is intended to hold down signing bonuses — is pretty ineffective as a collusion device. Owners routinely ignore it when it’s in their best interests to do so, and with a guy like Stephen Strasburg sitting out there this year — I can’t imagine that even a normally Selig-compliant team like the Nats are going to let him go due to some misguided adherence to Commissioner Bud.
While this seems like a nice idea, it is quite counterproductive, as Calcaterra notes. Many teams such as the Yankees, Tigers, and Red Sox often ignore the slotting recommendations. All this will do is put any even stricter cap upon spending for those teams that do pay attention to slot limits, thereby assuring that talent goes to the teams with deep pockets rather than those that need it. This defeats the purpose of the draft and can do nothing but hurt the competitive balance that Selig yearns for. Calcaterra proposes one solution that I have been pushing for a while:
Since the Players’ Union would never agree to a mandatory slotting system, it strikes me that the best way to handle things would be to allow teams to swap draft picks so that a team who can’t or simply doesn’t want to spent $10 million the best player available can actually get something in return for the right to pick him.
Essentially, allowing the trading of draft picks can help clubs obtain talent for their pick without investing the money in one particular unproven player. They can trade the pick for an established talent or multiple later picks, thereby replenishing their system without breaking the bank for a gamble.