With the stoppage of Major League Baseball, there are several money-saving techniques being talked about, including skipping this year’s amateur draft. That would be a very unfortunate development for the Blue Jays.
I think it’s safe to say that we’ll need to be prepared for a different kind of MLB season than we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. There’s already virtually no chance of a full, 162 game season, which means we’ll be looking at a reduced schedule when baseball is allowed to resume.
That type of thing is fairly common sense, but it would appear the MLB office is discussing some other ideas to help the league weather this storm. Unfortunately, there is one idea that I absolutely loathe, and I’m hopeful that it’s stopped in its tracks before it ever gains any real momentum.
According to the Associated Press from earlier today, one solution being talked about is skipping the June draft altogether this year, mostly in the interest of saving money for owners who are losing profits daily right now. Apparently teams collectively spend upwards of 400 million on draft bonuses each year, and the league is considering trying to save that money, and possibly the money spent on scouting departments across baseball.
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To be fair, assuming the draft does go ahead this year, it’s going to be a real challenge for scouting departments and for front offices across the league. Since there is no baseball to scout across North America right now, teams will have to rely on now-outdated scouting reports, and likely will have to turn to more video than they ever have before. That said, that part of the equation should be manageable, as video use is becoming the standard more all the time.
Realistically, it’s going to be very hard for the league to push ahead with the idea of bypassing the draft, especially because it’s part of the collective bargaining agreement. Potential draft picks aren’t going to want to delay their careers a year, even if it means they could retain a year of college eligibility, or possibly refine their skills in junior college while waiting for the 2021 draft. There is real money waiting for some of these guys, and the players union is not going to be happy if this pushes ahead.
As for the Blue Jays in particular, it would be a tremendous loss if the 2020 draft was wiped out, especially because they’re slated to have a top-five pick. After winning just 67 games last season, the only teams who are slotted to pick ahead of them would be Detroit, Baltimore, Miami, and Kansas City, which means they have a chance to add a significant piece to this generation of the Blue Jays. It’s possible the league could try to carry over some considerations into 2021 if they do try to wipe out the draft, but that still doesn’t really help the Blue Jays.\
At the end of the day, I suspect it’ll be nearly impossible for the league to push ahead with the idea of skipping the draft. That said, we’re in pretty uncharted territory right now, so we can’t fault the league for getting creative. As for this idea, I hope they throw it in the trash where it belongs.