July 25 is the deadline for Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association to come to an agreement on an international player draft, which would replace the current international signing system and end the qualifying-offer system for big league free agents. The two sides have been in negotiations for weeks, and ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez (all via Twitter links) reports that counter-proposals were exchanged within the last two days. The union put forth a new offer on Saturday, and the league quickly countered again today with what MLB said was a final offer.
“There was some movement on the money,” Gonzalez writes, with the league increasing its offer from an $181MM bonus pool for the top 600 players to $191MM. Of course, this is still well below the $260MM bonus pool the MLBPA was and is still seeking, and there wasn’t any word on whether or not the league’s new proposal involved fixed slot prices. According to past reports, the union wanted slot prices acting only as minimum expenditures for the assigned selections, wheres MLB wanted hard slots that couldn’t be exceeded for any pick.
Also, the two sides differed on the amount of money available for signings of undrafted players, as the MLBPA wanted a $40K limit and MLB wanted only $20K. This other financial aspect was one of many differences floated between the union and the league (as illustrated by The Athletic’s Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal), and it isn’t known if any common ground on these issues has been reached.
There are definitely still some hurdles, as Gonzalez notes that the MLBPA “still isn’t satisfied with some of the other aspects of the league’s proposal.” With less than 24 hours to go until the deadline, it would seem unlikely that a deal will be reached on the creation of an international draft, considering that the two sides remain some distance apart. Then again, back in March, it didn’t seem like a new collective bargaining agreement was going to be reached in time to avoid the cancellation of games, but the two sides were rather quickly able to make up a lot of ground in order to launch a shortened version of Spring Training and a full 162-game schedule.
The question of the international draft was the last outstanding issue from the offseason’s CBA talks, as the two sides agreed on the broader new collective bargaining agreement in March in order to end the lockout, and talks resumed this summer about the possibility of the draft. If no agreement is reached, the current rules regarding the international signing system and qualifying offers would remain in place through the term of the new CBA, which expires following the 2026 season.
Beyond just acting as the last vestige of the CBA negotiations, the talks also have a sizable impact on baseball business as a whole. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden observes that with the international talent-acquisition process and QO-related draft compensation undecided, teams have been waiting until after tomorrow’s deadline to propose major trade offers, as clubs want to be sure about their future avenues to obtaining young talent before considering moving any current prospects at the August 2 trade deadline.