What if the new CBA allowed teams to trade draft picks?

I never understood why MLB prohibits teams from trading their draft picks. Luckily, it is one of the changes frequently discussed when reporters mention things under consideration for the new CBA. On a baseball level, it makes sense. Rebuilding teams can get draft picks for their players at the trade deadline, and other teams can trade up in order to land a certain player. But the question that interests me more is would the Yankees benefit? The Yankees are perennial buyers at the trade deadline, and will almost always draft very low in the 1st round on draft day. On the other hand, they also spend more on above-slot signings than other teams, so they might be willing to trade away their top draft pick and still sign Mason Williams when all is said and done.

I think at the trade deadline, the ability to trade draft picks will on net hurt the Yankees. There are a lot of contendingish teams out there that have really crappy farm systems right now – the Cubs, the Dodgers, the Brewers, the Mets, the Tigers, and the White Sox all come to mind off the top of my head. Right now, they don’t really have the ability to compete with teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and others who have real assets to trade away for another team’s assets. However, draft picks are much more useful to the teams with good scouting departments rather than those teams, so they will hold value, and the Yankees will face more competition when bidding for services. Prices for trades will rise due to basic supply and demand dynamics.

On the other hand, the Yankees could really benefit from being able to trade up. They tend to have a lot of guys sitting around who can play MLB baseball but can’t really play on a championship-caliber team. Many of these come from mid-round picks which could be great fodder to trade up with. Imagine – the Yankees really like a player who they don’t think will be around at the end of the 2nd round, so they offer Pittsburgh their 2nd, 3rd, and 5th round picks in exchange for Pittsburgh’s 2nd round pick. This logic could even extend into the 1st round – the Yankees give up volume in return for a superstar-quality prospect. Their budget allows them to do so, as they can fill roster spots with free agents that other teams can’t afford to. Basically, the Yankees would draft fewer prospects, but in higher slots. I think it would be a wise strategy. They can spend money on signability guys in the later rounds still.

I could also foresee a situation, if compensation picks mostly remain the same, where the Yankees are net buyers of draft picks. Look at Tampa Bay this year – they hold something like 11 or 12 of the first 100 picks. They probably don’t have the budget to make that worthwhile. I could foresee the Yankees (if Tampa wasn’t a division rival) leveraging their budget to trade already-signed prospects to the poor team with a lot of draft picks for a fairly well reduced price.

But that’s just my speculation. Does anyone else have any suggestions on whether or not trading draft picks would be good or bad for the Yankees?

About EJ Fagan

E.J. Fagan been blogging about Yankee baseball since 2006. He is a Ph.D. student at University of Texas at Austin.

One thought on “What if the new CBA allowed teams to trade draft picks?

  1. Trading draft picks would be HUGE for the Yankees.Imagine agents like Boras running around before the draft asking for huge,ridculous money for can’t mss type HS/college prospects who don’t want to be signed by Kansas City or Pittsburgh but would prefer to play in the Yankees organization.Even after they were drafted, they’d refuse to sign and ask to be traded to the Richer, sexier teams.
    Yankees could probably trade players and picks every year to draft top guys or unsignable guys who suddenly become signable when YANKEES or Red Sucks or some other team with money to burn and a winning organization, offers to try to trade up to get them.
    Of course it could be good for the Pittsburghs also if they received lot’s of Double & Triple A guys who were almost Major League ready to save on development cost for players but to get a package of at least, a Brandon Laird, Austin Romine & Andrew Brackman along with a few draft picks, there would hsve to be a #1 type starter or Ken Griffey, AROD, 5 tool type available in the draft.
    Even then, a huge advantage for the Yankees becuase they could always supplement in free agency.