One person who apparently won’t be shy to voice his disdain with the new financial restrictions is super-agent Scott Boras. It’s no surprise that Boras isn’t a fan of the new rules, after all, many people feel that they were specifically targeted at him to begin with, but the strong language he has used to condemn the new system is somewhat surprising, at least to me:
“There was all forms of artificial behavior in the draft,” Boras told USA TODAY Sports. “The purpose of the draft is that it’s supposed to create parity in the game. You want teams with the greatest needs to get the best available talent.
“That has not been achieved in this draft. It’s created a mockery.”
At first blush, I’m pretty hard pressed to disagree with him. Bud Selig at many points tried to sell the notion that restricting the amount clubs could sign on players would create a system in which players were drafted in order of talent, but there’s simply no way to say that that’s what happened this year. For the most part, rounds two through ten were dominated by college seniors and other low cost, easy to sign players while, after the first round, the rest of the most talented players fell out of the top ten rounds. The strategy being employed by the teams is pretty simple: save some money in the earlier rounds to give you some extra money to play with in the “one size fits all” rounds (where all picks are allocated $100,000 to sign and anything over that amount counts against a team’s draft pool), while simultaneously guarding against losing slot money entirely if one of your first ten rounds picks doesn’t sign.
To add insult to injury, it doesn’t even appear as though most of those picks will even get the full slotted value of their selection. First overall pick Carlos Correa, for example, is said to have agreed to a deal worth $4-4.5 million, or approximately 62.5% of the total amount that slot is “supposed” to get under the new system. In a very real sense, the drafted players would have been better off if the MLBPA had dropped their ridiculous symbolic opposition to hard-slotting, as under such a system they would have at least been guaranteed the slotted value of the pick they were selected with.
In the short term, the effect here is simple: teams are going to wind up acquiring a lot more low upside college players, while more talented high school players go to college instead of heading straight for the minor leagues. This obviously means that there will be less talent in the professional ranks in the future than there has been in the past, but it’s hard to say right now how much of an impact that will have on the major leagues over the next 5-10 years or so. In the meantime nothing is going to change, because Selig and ownership never cared about anything more than driving down the amount paid in bonuses, and the union doesn’t care one bit about the non-union amateur players being drafted. If anything, they’re actively hostile to the future union members, because like the NFLPA and NBAPA, they’ve internalized the notion that the money being paid to draftees is money being taken out of their pockets, even though they’re the ones who have “rightfully earned” it.
I’ll have more to say about what this means for the future of the union and the next round of collective bargaining, but for now just let me say that, since the MLBPA has decided they’d very much like to become more like their NFL counterparts, I sincerely wish them every bit as much success as the NFL players have had in building a lucrative, respectful, relationship with the NFL owners. They deserve it.