The 2021 MLB Draft will be pushed from June to July 11-13 and take place in conjunction with next year’s All-Star festivities in Atlanta, as first reported by Carlos Collazo of Baseball America. The length of next year’s draft still is not set in stone, but it will be longer than this year’s heavily truncated five-round event. The March agreement between the league and the MLBPA which called for the five-round draft also stipulated that the 2021 draft be at least 20 rounds, per the report. The same deferral of bonus payouts — $100K up front, followed by 50 percent of the remainder in each of the two subsequent years — will remain in place. Undrafted players will again be limited to a maximum $20K signing bonus.
The move to All-Star week gives MLB considerable marketing opportunities for the event, placing it at a time when much of the national spotlight will already be on Major League Baseball. The NBA and NHL aren’t currently scheduled to be in season at that time, and the delayed Summer Olympics aren’t set to begin until July 23. Also, because the draft will be distanced from the end of the college and high school seasons, more of the event’s top names should be able to attend in person.
Carlos Collazo and colleague J.J. Cooper point out that Major League clubs have long sought a pre-draft medical combine to gather more information on players in order to avoid scenarios that can play out when a draftee’s physical exam reveals medical red flags that prompt the team to alter its offer. Such instances — recall the ugly scene in 2014 when the Astros took issue with No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken’s elbow — can be more public-facing than all involved parties would prefer and can have substantial trickle-down effects in a draft class. With the draft taking place weeks after the conclusion of the amateur season, however, some sort of medical combine seems much more feasible. Other promotional and scouting opportunities, such as tournaments or showcases involving the draft’s top names, could potentially be scheduled leading up the event as well.
BA also notes that the later nature of the draft date will lead to an uptick in the number of players who are eligible to be selected. Players are eligible if they turn 21 years old within 45 days of the draft’s scheduled completion, which pushes the cutoff threshold to Aug. 27. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel tweets out a series of prospects who would not have previously been eligible but now stand out as potential selections in the top five rounds of next year’s draft.