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MLB to limit 2020 draft to five rounds

The draft will take place June 10.

2019 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images

The 2020 MLB draft will be held on June 10 and will be limited to just five rounds, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan and multiple other sources. The signing deadline for drafted players will be August 1. Teams can sign an unlimited amount of undrafted free agents, but can offer no more than a $20,000 bonus.

Teams will still be subject to their assigned slot values, although for five rounds, not ten. The Royals will have the third-largest bonus pool at $12,521,300 for five rounds, rather than the $13,578,900 they would have had for ten rounds. According to an agreement between owners and the union back in March, teams can also delay signing bonuses, with a maximum of $100,000 to be paid within 30 days of a player signing, 50% of the remainder due July 1, 2021, and the leftover due July 1, 2022.

Royals 2020 draft bonus pool

Round Pick Slot Value
Round Pick Slot Value
1 4 $6,664,000
1c 32 $2,257,300
2 41 $1,813,500
3 76 $818,200
4 105 $554,300
5 135 $414,000
Total $12,521,300

According to Joel Sherman and other sources, baseball executives were pushing for at least ten rounds, but were pushed back by owners, who wanted the draft down to five rounds. Passan reports these cuts save “$29,578,100 in slot value — less than $1 million per team and less than $500,000 in actual cash with the new signing-bonus rules.” This change fits in with a movement in baseball to cut down on the number of minor leaguers a team has to pay for. MLB is currently negotiating to cut 42 teams from minor league affiliation.

College baseball ceased play back in March, and virtually no high school teams have played this spring. MLB teams send scouts home back in March, leaving them to study film. The lack of draft opportunities will likely force many high schoolers into college, and will cause many juniors to return for their senior years. That, coupled with the NCAA rule to allow an other year of eligibility for spring athletes, could cause a unique situation in college baseball where coaches have too many good players.

Cutting the draft to just five rounds could limit opportunities for several good players who are simply overlooked. Among the Royals players selected after the fifth round include Whit Merrifield, Jakob Junis, Greg Holland, Jakob Junis, Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Joe Randa, and Mike Sweeney.