Making the Case for Allowing MLB Teams to Trade Draft Picks

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Making the Case for Allowing MLB Teams to Trade Draft Picks
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
If MLB teams could trade draft picks, maybe Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates would be better for it this year.

As the 2013 MLB Draft wraps up Saturday, we're wondering about ways to make it better.

One surefire way? Let teams trade draft picks.

While there are other aspects of the event that could be addressed or fixed up, this would be an immediate—and fairly easy—alteration that would make baseball's draft exponentially better and more interesting.

Here's why.

 

Everybody Else Is Doing It

...so why shouldn't Major League Baseball?

Look, just because Mom and Dad warned you about this line growing up doesn't mean it can't apply here.

Among the four major professional sports, baseball is the only one that doesn't allow teams to trade draft picks.

The NFL does it. The NBA does it. Heck, even the NHL does it.

So, MLB, stop being the uncool kid and join the party already.

 

Going Down that Road Anyway

Actually, the above isn't entirely true.

Baseball draft picks can, in fact, be traded, but in a very, very limited capacity.

The most recent collective bargaining agreement included a rule that allows teams to deal what are called Competitive Balance Lottery picks.

These selections are new for the 2013 draft and came into play as a way to help small-market and low-revenue clubs.

And get this: There have already been a couple of examples of transactions involving those picks, including the first ever which happened last July as part of the Tigers-Marlins deal involving Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante going to Detroit and Jacob Turner heading to Miami.

Rick Yeatts/Getty Images
Anibal Sanchez became a part of baseball history when he was involved in the first draft-pick trade in MLB history.

The Tigers also wound up getting the No. 39 overall pick—the last of Competitive Balance Round A—while the Marlins moved down to pick No. 73, which was the last selection in Competitive Balance Round B.

So trading draft picks can happen—and has.

But the Houston Astros couldn't exactly have hung out the "No. 1 Pick For Sale" sign.

 

Upping the Entertainment Factor

And really, those are the kinds of draft-day trades that make things more fun and entertaining for everyone, especially the fans.

Let's face it: while it's an important and worth-watching event, the MLB draft doesn't quite have the same cache that other leagues' do, especially the NFL.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images
At the 2011 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons traded up to the sixth pick and took receiver Julio Jones.

A big reason for that is because amateur baseball players are years away from making an impact at the major league level, whereas most NFL, NBA or NHL draftees can step right into a key role the very next season.

So baseball should do whatever is possible to stay on the level and make it's draft exciting.

The league has done a good job of bringing more attention to the draft by televising it on MLB Network and inviting prominent projected first-rounders to the studio to be a part of the action and shake Commissioner Selig's hand and all that.

But growing the MLB draft is an ongoing process.

Imagine Selig coming up to the podium on draft night and instead of his usual with-the-next-pick prepared spiel, he looked up and exclaimed—at least as much as Selig can exclaim anything—that "We have a trade to announce!"

C'mon, that would be fun.

 

Freeing is Believing

If it's your pick, shouldn't you be able to do what you want with it? Including trading it away?

Teams would have so much more freedom and a chance to get so much more creative if only they could use draft picks as tradable assets, like pretty much everything else in the sport is.

For instance, take the Rockies. They were terrible in 2012 for many reasons (injuries, pitching, etc.), but the club has gotten off to a surprising start so far this year, and maybe the front office fancies the team a contender.

Well, the Rockies had the third overall pick—they picked Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray—but who's to say Colorado wouldn't have at least entertained the idea of sending that selection to a team that's struggling and looking to rebuild in exchange for some major league talent that can help Colorado right now?

And what about the Pirates, who are currently in possession of one of two NL wild card spots?

Because they received the No. 9 selection as compensation for failing to sign Mark Appel as the eighth overall choice last year, Pittsburgh actually had two of the first 14 picks this year. Would they have considered moving one of them for a player who could take the team from cute story through the first 10 weeks to legitimate contender?

We'll never know.

But we should. And maybe someday soon, we will.

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