MLBPA counters MLB’s international draft proposal; sides still far apart

The Major League Baseball Players Association has countered the MLB’s original proposal for an international draft — a plan that would allocate significantly more money to international players and address pre-draft requirements the union deems discriminatory, sources told ESPN.

The two sides face a July 25 deadline to agree on some form of international draft, which MLB has sought for most of the past two decades. In an effort to lure the MLBPA, MLB offered to scrap the qualifying offer system — which restricts the market for a handful of mid- to upper-tier free agents each offseason — if both sides agree on a version of an international draft. If they don’t, the international market and system of qualifying offers will remain status quo.

The union submitted a written proposal to MLB negotiators Friday, and the league was unhappy with the demands, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The two sides are believed to be extremely distant from each other, sources on both sides said, but it was still a significant move considering it was the first time the MLBPA had approved any form of a draft for international players.

The league’s March proposal — a 20-round hard-slot international draft that would start in 2024, with $5.51 million for the #1 pick overall and $181 million total guaranteed spend for the top 600 international players – – remained on the table this week. The union countered with a 20-round draft with no fixed slots that sources say would award at least $260 million to the top 600 international players. The league proposed a $20,000 limit for undrafted players, and the union countered with $40,000.

Money will be a major sticking point in negotiations for an international draft, as it was during the recent 99-day lockdown that almost torpedoed the 2022 season. At this point, the league seems reluctant to allocate more dollars and also fears that the elimination of hard slots would trigger the pre-agreed deals that are running amok in the international market as teams theoretically give players more in later rounds Could promise money and assign their draft pool to align with that strategy.

The signing age remains the same under both proposals – players must turn 17 by September 1 of their first year of contract with a major-league team – but the union has asked for the international draft to be pushed back to September 2023 from early 2024.

The union believes the gap in potential spending for the international draft is too big compared to the Rule 4 draft, which takes place every summer and involves amateur players from the US, Canada and Puerto Rico (draft pools for all 30 teams this year). version totaling nearly $280 million). He also believes that the league’s logistical requirements for draft-eligible international players, particularly in relation to drug testing and disclosure of medical information, are significantly more stringent than those in the Rule 4 draft and need to be justified in certain cases.

The union, according to a source, has also suggested ways to allocate more resources to fighting corruption, which has long plagued the international market, in part by creating special committees that can gather information and offer solutions. Both sides are working under the premise that July 25 is a firm date, but they can ultimately negotiate an extension if the need arises.

Under the current qualifying offer system, teams can offer a pending free agent a one-year contract worth the average salary of the top 125 MLB players at the start of free agency. If that player declines and signs elsewhere, the original team receives a compensatory draft pick from the signing team.

To reduce disparities in international spending, MLB instituted a system a decade ago that assigned international bonus pools to each team and introduced caps that became stricter under the previous collective bargaining agreement. These caps allowed teams to forecast the amount of money they would be given several years in advance, which according to people familiar with the international market gave them the ability to scout and settle with players as young as 12 or 12 13 years old.

The players, who are then essentially promised to these teams, are barred from showing off their talent for other clubs before their official signing date. However, according to numerous industry sources who have spoken out over the past few years, teams have often threatened to cut a player’s bonus before officially signing it, or to withdraw the agreement altogether. Those who sign have to pay their coaches a significant portion of their premiums — up to 50%, according to those with knowledge of the dynamics — and are sometimes referred to agencies that have pre-arranged deals with those coaches.

The league’s current draft proposal was first tabled in July 2021, a source said, but resurfaced in early March, threatening to wreck a deal on a new CBA that finally seemed close. MLBPA leadership has long campaigned to scrap the qualification offer system, but Latin American players resented the idea of ​​tying it to the implementation of an international draft. MLB eventually gave the MLBPA three options: maintain the status quo, with a qualifying bid system and no international draft; Accept the international draft in exchange for the abolition of the qualification system; or take more time to think about it.

The union chose the third option – but now the two sides are once again far apart on an important issue. MLBPA counters MLB’s international draft proposal; sides still far apart

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