MLB lockout: International draft ‘last big remaining obstacle’ in negotiations

MLB lockout Fernando Tatis Jr.
Fernando Tatis Jr.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The league and players’ union are drawing ever so closer to reaching a deal that would end an MLB lockout that has become the second-longest work stoppage in baseball history.

During another marathon 17-hour negotiating session that ultimately prompted MLB to push its March 8 deadline that would cancel a second week of the 2022 season back a day, the league made legitimate concessions on core economic factors.

They raised the competitive balance tax to $230 million for the 2022 season, increasing incrementally to $242 million by 2026 while looking to institute a fourth tax tier level that will impose harsher penalties to teams that go over the CBT by a certain number. The league also proposed a $40 million bonus pool for pre-arbitration players, $700K starting minimum salaries that would increase to $770K by the fifth year, and draft-pick penalties should a team manipulate the service time of their prospects.

Now, the league is proposing an international draft that would eliminate the uncertainty and overarching issues that plague the scouting and signing of Latin American prospects. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the current process of simply sending scouts and trying to sign best players without a legitimate system “is rife with problems.”

For more on the MLB lockout, click here

“Foremost among them being that children as young as 12 are agreeing to contracts they can’t sign until they’re 16,” Passan wrote. “The league believes a draft would help clean up a system that historically has seen team officials take kickbacks for signing players and trainers give performance-enhancing drugs to teenagers.”

Those who would forego the draft and continue to sign international prospects would be docked draft picks, according to Passan, which “left the union contemplating the wisdom of overhauling the game’s international system.”

San Diego Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr., who was signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic, voiced his displeasure with MLB’s proposal.

“The International Draft is going to kill baseball in DR,” he said (h/t Hector Gomez). “It’s going to affect us a lot, because there will be many young people who used to give them the opportunity to get a bonus, and with the draft, it will not be the same.”

If an agreement is reached, the tentative plan is for Opening Day to be scheduled for April 6-7 while the regular season is extended by three days, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.