Due to the offseason renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association through the 2016 season, the 2012 MLB first-year player draft—which begins Monday, June 4 at 7 p.m. ET, airing live on both the MLB Network and MLB.com—will inevitably differ from previous years.
Of all the changes to the draft that will be implemented for the first time this year, perhaps the most significant is that each organization will have a monetary cap on their signing bonuses. Basically, every slot through the first 10 rounds of the draft now has a corresponding and non-negotiable bonus value.
While the No. 1 overall selection is slated to receive $7.2 million, the final selection in the 10th round will receive $125,000.
And even though teams with more draft picks in the first 10 rounds will have a larger signing bonus pool, they still will be penalized for exceeding their specified draft budget. Depending on the severity of the infraction, the punishment may be levied in the form of taxation relative to the amount overspent, or even the loss of future draft picks.
Will we see more first-round picks sign a professional contract or honor their college commitment?
But what about players drafted beyond the 10th round?
Well, beginning in the 11th round, every slot—including non-drafted free agents—will be assigned a $100,000 signing bonus value that is separate from the aforementioned signing bonus pool. Interestingly, organizations are free to spend any leftover money not used in the signing bonus pool on said picks beyond the 10th round.
Two other important changes to this year’s draft are that the number of rounds have been reduced from 50 to 40, and the signing deadline has been moved up a month from August 15th to July 13th.
While we all have our distinct opinions on how the new CBA will affect the outcome of the draft, the full scope of the changes won't be understood until the signing deadline passes and we are able to analyze how it impacted the players with signability concerns.