As the league and MLBPA continue to squabble over the length of the 2020 season, ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel reports that whatever length is determined could well impact the state of the 2021 draft (Twitter link). Per McDaniel, the standing March agreement between MLB and the MLBPA indicates the following language:
In the event that each Club plays less than 81 regular season games in 2020, the Office of the Commissioner shall have the right, after conferring in good faith with the MLBPA, to modify the Draft order.
Certainly, the notion of “good faith” negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association seems far-fetched at this point, but the possibility of changes to the determination of the ’21 draft order are nevertheless important to note. Many have suggested that a particularly brief season — MLB has been exploring 48- and 54-game scenarios — won’t offer an accurate barometer for determining the best teams. With a short enough season, even a poor couple of weeks could be enough to make a club set its sights on the 2021 season, which could impact the 2020 season in a variety of ways.
Baseball’s current proposal is for a 76-game season with cuts beyond the players’ prorated salaries. It became clear almost immediately upon word of that deal leaking that it would be yet another nonstarter for the Players Association, however, as the new proposal guarantees only half of the players’ prorated salaries for 46.9 percent of a standard 162-game season (plus another 25 percent of their prorated pay if the postseason is completed).
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported back in March that the agreement between MLB and the MLBPA also allows the league to shorten the 2021 draft from 40 rounds to 20 rounds.