The executive director for the Major League Baseball Players Association says he can imagine an improved version of the MLB draft. Michael Weiner says players have accepted the draft and it works – to an extent.
“Everything is relative,” Weiner told MLBTR from Manhattan. “Does it work for the players as opposed to a system where players could be free agents and could freely negotiate with any club as they enter major league baseball? No.”
That’s because players have little leverage once they’re drafted by an MLB team. They can choose not to sign for a year, but that has limited appeal to most ballplayers. The draft isn’t perfect and Weiner, who maintains regular contact with players through e-mail, text messaging and face-to-face contact, notes that the MLBPA was in favor of trading draft picks in 2002 and again in 2006. Weiner says the MLBPA would consider trading picks to further competitive balance when the current collective bargaining agreement between players and owners expires after 2011.
“I’m not sure it gives the player more leverage,” Weiner said, noting that players would only be able to negotiate directly with one club. “But it clearly gives the club that selected the player more leverage.”
Others, including Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, have suggested that trading picks would allow players to refuse to sign unless the team that drafted them dealt them to specific clubs. That could give players more say in their future, though not necessarily more money.
Now, teams can’t trade draft picks and can’t trade the players they sign for a year after their first pro contracts. Weiner points out that clubs would have more options if they could trade draft picks like NBA, NFL and NHL teams.