MLB and MLBPA remain about $80 million difference on international drafts
With the deadline to agree on an international draft only 10 days away, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association remain far apart on the amount of money that would be guaranteed to amateur players.
The league submitted a counter-proposal to the union on Friday that allocated $181 million in guaranteed spending to the top 600 international players in an inaugural 2024 draft, the same amount as proposed in March and a difference of about $80. million compared to what the MLBPA submitted last week. , sources told ESPN.
The league also remains adamant that a 20-round international draft must include fixed slots — meaning teams must pay the designated amount for each pick — in order to weed out the early deals that have spilled over the league. international market over the past half-decade. . The syndicate, which wants to allocate at least $260 million to the top 600 international players, refutes the premise and wants to give teams the option to go above or below designated slot values, while taxing those who exceed them of certain percentages.
The league also remained firm on a $20,000 maximum for undrafted free agents. The union is asking for $40,000.
Both 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 exchange, MLB offered to get rid of the qualifying offer system, which limits the market for a handful of mid-to-high-level free agents each offseason. If the two parties fail to reach an agreement, the international market and the system of qualifying offers will remain unchanged.
The union believes international players should be guaranteed significantly more money to align more closely with the national draft, which will see teams spend almost $300 million on amateur players from the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico this year. The league disputes that its current proposal guarantees international amateur players $23 million more than teams spent on them during the 2020-21 signing period, while adding that players who go through the national draft should be paid more because they are signed at older ages. and therefore have a higher probability of enrolling in the major leagues.
The two sides can negotiate an extension to their July 25 deadline, but that is unlikely given teams need to know before the August 2 trade deadline whether the qualifying bid system will remain in place.
Under the current system of qualifying offers, teams can offer a pending free agent a one-year contract equal in value to the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players in MLB at the start of the season. free agency. If that player declines and signs elsewhere, the original team receives a compensatory draft pick from the signing team.
MLB’s counter-proposal made progress in leading the union on drug testing and medical disclosure for draft-eligible players, which the union said was stricter than for those of draft Rule 4 and therefore of a discriminatory nature. MLB originally offered a one-year suspension for those who either test positive for performance-enhancing drugs or refuse to be tested before the international draft, but have since removed the penalties. He also drew inspiration from Draft Rule 4 by proposing that international players who undergo a pre-draft physical will be guaranteed the full value of their slot (under Draft Rule 4 such players are guaranteed 75% of their location).
MLB also believes it has been aggressive in committing resources to foreign countries, both bolstering educational programs and offering a series of tryouts, leagues, showcases and combinations that would allow players amateurs to be seen by scouts. But a senior labor source, speaking generally, believes it is still failing to root out corruption and provide baseball exposure in underrepresented countries.
Although the details of both proposals are not known, it is clear that money is the central issue, as it was during a 99-day owner-imposed lockdown that nearly torpedoed the 2022 season. .