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The looming battle over draft pick slotting

Jan 26, 2010, 9:56 AM EDT

Buster Olney relays the gist of conversations held during the recent General Managers meeting about fixing the draft.  Money quote:

And there is a strong belief on the side of management that a slotting
system can be completed, because the union will embrace the idea — so
long as the Players Association is guaranteed, in some fashion, that
more money will be spent on major league players. How this happens
remains to be seen, but there are agents convinced that the interests
of the draft-eligible traded will be swapped out for the interests of
the union veterans.

I was always inclined to believe that too, simply because there were so many veterans on record taking issue with the size of draft bonuses and that it makes sense that they would be willing to negotiate away the rights of amateurs if they got something for themselves.  But that changed when Michael Weiner referred to the idea of hard slotting as “a salary cap” in his introductory press conference last month.  The term “salary cap” is a rallying cry for the union. Always has been. The owners know this, and they have publicly abandoned any effort to impose one because they know the union will gladly strike over it and will likely win. Again.

I don’t think enough people have taken notice of Weiner’s use of that term — Olney doesn’t make any mention of it — and for that reason, I think they are underselling just how hard the union is preparing to fight the imposition of hard slotting for the draft.

  1. Pete Toms - Jan 26, 2010 at 10:31 AM

    The numbers vary depending upon whether or not you include player development costs but the overall trend is that in the only cap-free league (MLB) the % of revenues going to the players has been diminishing. The NFL players get a greater % of industry revenue than the MLB players and obviously the NFL has a cap (well, maybe not after March 1)
    The broader point is that salary caps are no longer viewed as a panacea for owners and a defeat for players.
    But….Weiner is from the Fehr/Miller school and we know what they think of salary caps…

  2. berselius - Jan 26, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    I was always under the impression that the bargaining chip for draft slotting would be changing or, more likely, eliminating draft pick compensation for FAs

  3. Kid Charlemagne - Jan 26, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    I would think the union would be ill-served by having a new baseball player’s first experience with the union being them getting royally boned for the benefit of those already in the league.

  4. t ball - Jan 26, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    Pete is right. The owners will leave well enough alone with regards to a cap. I can see some owners might like the slotting idea, but being able to go over slot is working quite well for some teams able to take advantage of it, so that’s probably a mix of opinions.
    Same with the worldwide draft idea. The teams with solid operations in international free agency should be wary of giving up a competitive advantage there.

  5. Janis Manganelli - Jan 27, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

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