Why Can't MLB Teams Trade Draft Picks?

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IApril 18, 2010

I’ve long been a proponent of MLB teams being allowed to trade draft picks or even draft slots. They do it in every other sport, why not baseball?

Just think about it: a Stephen Strasburg or a Bryce Harper comes along and a team like the Yankees want him badly. But what can they do? Winning teams draft too low to get a guy like that.

Ah, but not so fast, kimosabe. What if the team with the worst (or second-worst) record is allowed to trade that pick? Now what would some team pay?

Look, the idea behind the original rule is to allow a bad team to improve by getting a higher draft choice than a good team.

But, like in the NBA, if that team would rather have two picks for one, or a player and a pick, why not let them?

The goal is competitive balance, right?

Recognizing that, why aren’t teams allowed to trade draft picks? Currently, teams cannot even trade a player they’ve drafted for a pre-determined period of time.

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Well, the concern originally was that teams that couldn’t afford to sign high-profile draft choices would simply trade away those picks and the rich would get richer.

But even in its present form, the system is far from perfect. Some teams shy away from Scott Boras clients due to fear of his signing demands.

Not only that, but MLB has established a slotting system. But it’s not strictly enforced.

Many times, teams go over slot to sign a player that otherwise would have been drafted much higher. One recent example is the Tigers drafting of Rick Porcello in the late first round.

This is not a new argument. My Bleacher Report colleagues and I have written about it before.

Considering that the system was established in 1965, shouldn’t the objective at least be under review?

When the collective bargaining agreement expires in 2011, it will be looked at. In fact, John Schuerholz has been contacted to look at the whole draft issue.

The trading of draft picks would add interest and intrigue to the offseason.

It might make draft day in MLB more interesting. And, if an international draft is so important to MLB, perhaps this could be thrown in as a much less complex implementation.

Now, some rules would need to be established.

The MLB draft is 50 rounds and so perhaps the trading should be limited to the first two or three rounds.

Or why not just reduce the number of rounds in the draft? As the NBA has seen, with their draft reduced from 10 rounds to the current two rounds, more trades have been seen.

Yes, this has been discussed before but has never been instituted. While it may have merit, don’t expect it to be implemented any time soon.

Meanwhile, I feel a draft, and it may be the same draft we’re always had. But it doesn’t hurt to dream.


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