Jon Heyman of SI reported last week that Bud Selig is miffed at the rising amounts teams like the Royals, Nationals, and Pirates are spending on the draft, and that he is set on adopting a new slotting system in the next CBA.
Selig's hope that the union would accept binding slots rests partly on a belief that current players aren't concerned about incoming amateur players. He also may be feeling emboldened by the NFL negotiations, which left incoming rookies with significantly lower pay. But union people suggest there is more resistance to the cap system among current major leaguers than MLB officials believe.Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/jon_heyman/08/19/draft-cap/index.html#ixzz1Vxb706qI
Rustin Dodd at the Star followed up with an article about how this might affect the Royals specifically which included comments from Ass. GM J.J. Piccollo:
Royals officials say they could adapt but concede that the current system has been key in helping them assemble a stacked minor-league system that has received nearly unanimous kudos from all corners of the game.
“It has jump-started our (minor-league) system,” Picollo says. “…What we have (now) is a system that allows teams to get two or three first-round talents in one draft.”
Now the system could be in for a major round of reform, the latest round of spending sparking a push for a hard cap on bonuses.
The irony here, of course, is that most of the spending is being done by small-market franchises, the same clubs that are often derided for their chintzy behavior in free-agency.
I have misgivings about a hard cap on draft bonuses in baseball. First and foremost is that for all the consternation about small market teams pocketing revenue sharing money and failing to re-invest these funds in the product on the field, the Commissioner is ostensibly advocating a system that would limit one of the most effective ways small market teams like the Royals and Pirates can spend revenue sharing dollars. If there is any true interest at creating competitive balance in baseball, small market or otherwise unsuccessful franchises should be allowed to pay "over slot" and assume the risk and reward of selecting the best talent possible through the amateur draft.
In the NFL's new CBA, a hard slotting system was put in place to near universal agreement among management, labor, and the fans. However, the NFL framework includes a salary cap (and more important to my argument, salary floor), and drafted players are immediately placed on NFL rosters. While salary cap gurus in the NFL can massage the numbers so that some or much of the bonus money doesn't count against a team's cap, there is a more salient relationship between high rookie bonuses and less of the pie being paid to veterans in the NFL. Without a salary floor in MLB, there would be nothing to stop a team like the Royals from paying out less in draft bonuses while maintaining a $38M payroll.
While we may, and often do, debate the abilities and competence of the Royals' management team, I do fully believe that what they are trying to accomplish in an overall sense is what a small market MLB team needs to do in order to find success. I am fundamentally opposed to a hard cap on the draft in baseball, because this takes away one of the primary tools teams like the Royals have to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox, etc. on at least a cyclical basis. And as long as the large budget / big market teams can dish out huge free agent contracts, I'm sure they don't mind letting small market teams spend the revenue sharing money on draft picks and assume the risk involved with scouting and developing players.
I really don't see how paying draft picks over slot means the draft is broken, but Bud Selig seems intent on fixing it.