This year’s MLB draft was limited to five rounds, down from the usual forty. Those not selected are capped at just $20K in bonus money upon signing, well shy of the (already restricted) amounts typically spent. And now, MLB is warning teams not to promise too much in educational benefits when wooing undrafted players.
Per J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, via Twitter, the league has sent out formal guidance to its teams regarding the negotiation of college scholarship plan and continuing education program funding. Those programs are regular parts of the draft signing process.
It’s not entirely clear what the league is trying to tamp down on here, but the memorandum is said to advise organizations not to offer “exorbitant” funding of players’ education. As Cooper explains, there’s no evident reason for concern that teams could back-door money to players’ personal accounts. Indeed, the programs already come with clear guidelines governing their administration to avoid any skirting of draft bonus rules.
Perhaps the memo was meant mostly as a reminder to teams not to get too creative in their recruitment efforts. But it seems hard to justify any additional squeeze on incoming professional players after so much has already been taken off the table — particularly if it means limiting what those players are able to negotiate in future educational benefits.