As MLB prepares its proposal to the MLBPA on economics issues next Tuesday, let’s take a look at some other notes related to the league’s shutdown.
- In the wake of massive revenue losses, MLB has instituted a five round draft in 2020, down from its usual forty, with undrafted players’ signing bonuses capped at $20K. Limiting the selection pool will no doubt push many talented prep prospects to college, but it could also spur some to take a less traditional route. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe argues the shortened draft and spending limits could push some undrafted players to pursue immediate pro opportunities in Japan or South Korea, where their earning potential would be significantly higher. Indeed, at least one team in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball is already preparing for an unusually high volume of undrafted talent, Speier reports. Such a move wouldn’t be entirely without precedent. Right-hander Carter Stewart signed a six-year deal with NPB’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in lieu of reentering the MLB draft after medical issues derailed his talks with the Braves, who had selected him in the first round out of high school in 2018.
- More from Speier, who also examines the potential repercussions of the shutdown on pitcher usage this season. He spoke with Dr. Christopher Ahmad, who warned earlier this month that play stoppages at all levels could lead to a spike in Tommy John surgeries if pitchers attempt to ramp back up too quickly. Ahmad reiterated to Speier that the risks may not be as prevalent for MLB players, whose personal training has been better regimented and supervised remotely by club staff, than they are for amateur players who have had less oversight in recent months. Nevertheless, MLB players won’t be immune from consequences if the league is able to return. An abbreviated Spring Training 2.0 and likely expansion of rosters will cause teams to curtail their pitchers’ workloads whenever possible, Speier feels.
- Yesterday, the Blue Jays guaranteed their employees there would be no furloughs or layoffs through at least October 1. Team president Mark Shapiro tells John Lott of the Athletic the organization’s ability to keep people on-board enables them to deploy staff in unconventional ways. Most notably, minor-league coaches and analysts, who in a normal setting would have daily gameday responsibilities, have been brought into the Blue Jays’ draft process this year. Those coaches and player development staff have taken on a larger than normal role in evaluating potential selections’ mechanics and projections, Shapiro tells Lott.