As is almost always the case following the draft and its attendant August signing deadline, the calls are going out for a hard slotting system in which draft picks are paid a set price based on where they’re taken. No haggling! Just like buying a Saturn!
While there may be some merit to the idea on an intellectual basis — Maury discusses some of the pros and cons here — almost every article I’ve seen on the matter ignores how difficult it will be to impose such a system. Why will it be difficult? Because contrary to the popular belief that the union would willingly toss non-member draftees over the side if they got something in return, the MLBPA has given every indication that they would fight draft slotting tooth and nail.
Case in point: union chief Michael Weiner referred to the idea of hard slotting as “a salary cap”
last December. That’s the first time I can ever recall someone using that term in connection with the draft. It’s a term that, as you know, is a rallying cry for the union. They are opposed to such caps in all cases, and if they’re referring to the draft slotting as a “salary cap,” they will be philosophically obligated to oppose it. I don’t think the choice of words is an accident.
The owners know this,
and they have publicly abandoned any effort to impose a general salary cap because they
know the union will gladly strike over it and will likely win. Again. And let’s be clear here: the stakes are way lower on draft bonuses for the owners than regular player salaries are, with most teams paying bonuses of less than $10 million for their entire draft in a given year. Do you think owners would risk a work stoppage to save less money than Jose Guillen makes?
People are underestimating ust how hard the union is prepared to
fight on this point. I think it’s just something people are talking about now and that we’re highly unlikely to see slotting imposed anytime soon.