By the time I finish writing this Stephen Strasburg will either be a Washington National or will be looking for an independent league team to play for. Either way it made me think of something. Why shouldn’t teams be allowed to trade their draft picks in MLB? I’m not talking like in normal sports like the NBA, NFL, and NHL. Where they can trade picks before the draft. No what I was referring to was the trading of draft rights.
I want to first say that I love the draft in baseball. I actually like the fact that you cannot trade draft picks. The only way to gain extra picks is by an arbitration free agent going to another team, or failing to sign a draft pick from the previous year. I actually think that having no salary cap makes the draft in baseball that much more interesting. The sign ability factor is huge and because of that you have Rick Porcello dropping to the Tigers. But I do think that after the draft. After teams decide who to take, they should be allowed to trade the rights of those players to other teams.
My reasoning for this is as follows: The MLB draft is one like no other. Teams have a few options when looking at players. You can take a HS kid, or you can take a college kid. College kids usually don’t have as much leeway as HS because the only bargaining chip they have is that they can go to play in the independent leagues. A HS kid is different. HS kids have a free education staring them in the face and because of that can demand millions of dollars. "If you don’t pay me I’ll just go to Rice." It’s a bargaining chip used all the time and it usually works. HS kids routinely get paid a lot of money to forgo College and go to the pros.
But many times a HS kids tune changes a bit when he’s drafted. The Arizona bound pitcher is now going pro. He signs quickly and is ready to start his pro career. That free education doesn’t even pay a factor. For an example you can look at the Philadelphia Phillies 08 pick Anthony Hewitt. So taking a HS kid is a real gamble. Because while they may say they are all about school you just never quite know until Bud’s voice says their name.
But what happens when you take a kid and he won’t sign? What happens when he won’t budge and quite frankly you don’t have enough money? You thought he would sign. You thought he would come down in price and the deadline hits and your left without a player. Sure you get a pick in next year’s draft but it puts your organization back a ways. So why shouldn’t you be able to get something a bit more if you can’t sign your prized possession. I’m sure the Nat’s thought Aaron Crow would sign. I’m sure the Phillies thought JD Drew would sign. They didn’t. Those two were greedy and never came down in price and because of it both teams were left empty handed, but why?
I’ll use Strasburg as an example: If the Nationals came down to 15 minutes before the deadline, or even a few days or months, and they realize that he won’t accept any deal that they are willing to give them, then why shouldn’t they be able to trade them. I mean if the Yankees call up and offer Jesus Montero for the rights to Strasburg because they can afford it I’m all for it. I’m not a Yankees fan at all but the Nat’s get a top prospect and the Yankees get "the next great pitcher."
This would just add another ounce of strategy to the already amazing game of baseball. Because while we all think that Strasburg will be the next amazing pitcher in this league baseball is full of busted picks that never amounted to anything but broken dreams. Just take a look at the 2000 MLB draft. The first round produced 2 all stars. So while most would say this would be a slam dunk for the Yankees I’m here to say that no draft pick is a slam dunk. Not when Pujols dropped to the 13th round.
Teams are routinely criticized for not picking the "best player available" in the draft (I’m looking at you SD Padres and your pick of Matt Bush) but sign ability is a huge part of the game. But I don’t believe teams should be left with nothing when they player they took is just too greedy. I think to give teams the ability to trade rights would just better the game even more.