2020 MLB Amateur Draft Reportedly Shortened to 5 Rounds amid COVID-19

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 8, 2020

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, Monday, June 3, 2019, in Secaucus, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The 2020 Major League Baseball draft reportedly will be shortened to five rounds because of the COVID-19 pandemic, per ESPN's Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel

"All players who go undrafted would be eligible to sign for a maximum of $20,000. While there was a proposal to the union for a 10-round draft, the sides didn't come to an agreement," Passan wrote.

Passan also highlighted the discord among front offices about the draft length.

"There remains a significant divide within the team side on the draft," Passan wrote. "A majority of front offices were pushing for a longer draft, recognizing the value reaped even in later rounds can be immense. Pushback to keep the draft as short as possible from some owners was strong."

The draft is typically 40 rounds, and last year's selection process contained 1,217 players.

Reducing the number of rounds from 40 to five is a cost-cutting maneuver in light of the season's delay. Per J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, over $61 million was spent on players acquired after the fifth round last year.

But the move will clearly hurt players who would have otherwise been drafted after Round 5. Cooper had more:

"That agreement came at a significant cost to MLB draftees, who in many cases will find the door to playing pro baseball closed in 2020 unless they are willing to accept signing bonuses that are well below market value. The deal also potentially pushes back the date of the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 international signing periods by six months apiece. MLB has the flexibility to move back the start dates of those signing periods for each of those years to as late as Jan. 15."

Cooper also wrote that teams will be limited to spending no more than $20,000 on undrafted players' signing bonuses. The maximum was $125,000 last season.

A return to play wouldn't recoup all of the potential money that could have been earned in 2020, either, as it's expected that the typical 162-game season will be shortened to around 80 to 100 if it happens, per David Lennon of Newsday.

Furthermore, games will likely be played without fans, so teams could lose out on gate and concession revenue entirely.

Citing ForbesChristopher Smith of MassLive.com estimated that the Boston Red Sox could lose $199 million alone, with all 30 MLB teams in the red by $2.86 billion.

Ultimately, MLB and the MLB Players Association's decision to truncate the draft makes sense given the game's financial state amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but amateur players looking to start their careers will take the biggest hit as their inroads into the Show are stifled indefinitely.