MLBPA Rejects MLB's International Draft Proposal; Qualifying Offer System Remains

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 25, 2022

Alex Trautwig/WBCI/MLB via Getty Images

The Major League Baseball Players Associated rejected MLB's latest proposal to stage an an international draft.

"Players made clear from the outset that any International Draft must meaningfully improve the status quo for those players and not unfairly discriminate between those players and domestic entrants," the union stated Monday. "To this end, the Players Association made a series of proposals aimed at protecting and advancing the rights of international amateurs."

MLBPA Communications @MLBPA_News

Statement on Players’ rejection of MLB’s international draft proposal <a href="https://t.co/wAlIZcS4bt">pic.twitter.com/wAlIZcS4bt</a>

ESPN's Alden Gonzalez shared MLB's response:

Alden González @Alden_Gonzalez

Here’s a statement from MLB, through a spokesperson … <a href="https://t.co/0di4XI8U9Z">pic.twitter.com/0di4XI8U9Z</a>

In March, MLB and the players union agreed to begin working toward a resolution on a draft to replace the system for signing international prospects. Monday was the deadline.

According to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince, MLB's final offer included a 20-round draft with bonus slots assigned to each pick to mirror the amateur draft. Unlike in the amateur draft, though, teams wouldn't be able to go above their slot amounts to sign players.

In addition to seeking a bonus pool of $260 million—much higher than the $191 million proposed by MLB—the MLBPA pushed for flexibility with slot money, per the Associated Press' Ronald Blum.

Laura Albanese @AlbaneseLaura

Drafts, in general, are seen by unions as a way to surprsess the market. And the international draft allowed future marquee players to be signed for a pittance after being scouted and secured very young. No surprise MLBPA is doubling down here. <a href="https://t.co/EMQarARNmx">https://t.co/EMQarARNmx</a>

The Athletic's Maria Torres and Ken Rosenthal reported in January that the current structure for international prospects isn't working:

"Clubs are reaching verbal agreements with players in their early teens with alarming frequency. And longtime player-agent Ulises Cabrera and others say that corruption in the system, including a scheme in which some trainers pay MLB team scouts under the table, is more prevalent and widespread than in the past."

There's a perception that MLB has allowed this to happen so that an international draft is the only solution.

"They want it screwed up so the teams will say it's screwed up and that they want to change," an anonymous club official said to Torres and Rosenthal. "It's like an NHL fight. They just let it go."

ESPN's Marly Rivera filed a similar report in March:

Marly Rivera @MarlyRiveraESPN

"... and no one did anything to stop it." In the DR, and this is very complicated so I will do my best to summarize, there is an unofficial “pre-agreement” system, in which players “pre-commit” (at 12-13 years old) to go to a particular team.

Marly Rivera @MarlyRiveraESPN

And now, the process has gotten so out of hand, that the International Draft is being presented as the only solution. Source: “And the ultimate tragedy is that it probably is the most immediate solution, because no one did anything to curb it before. And that is on all of us."

"The system in the Dominican [Republic] is not ready to have a draft next year," Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz told ESPN's Jeff Passan in March. "The Dominican is not the U.S. You can't snap a finger and everything lines up to operate the right way. We've got a new president who's trying to improve things. We need to do this slowly."

It's not hard to see why the MLBPA would vote against an international draft on principle. Drafts can suppress players' wages and restrict where they can play.

But by turning down MLB's proposal, the union is left to find solutions to address structural issues with youth baseball abroad.


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