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International players shouldn’t be subject to a draft, and neither should American-born players

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As reported earlier, several recognizable faces in baseball will speak on behalf of international players to prevent an international draft from being instituted as part of the next collective bargaining agreement. The owners want an international draft as part of a concession from the players’ union in order to abolish the qualifying offer system.

The owners like the idea of an international draft because it means getting elite talent for pennies on the dollar. In the past, international stars like Masahiro Tanaka (seven years, $155 million) have earned contracts rivaling those of top free agents. Putting them into a draft system would allow them to be paid much, much less, comparable to those who are selected in the first round of the amateur draft.

The unfairness in an international draft, then, is obvious. So why do we not have a similar issue with the amateur draft? We should. If the likes of Kyle Schwarber (4th overall, 2014), Kris Bryant (2nd overall, 2013), and Carlos Correa (1st overall, 2012) were allowed to hit the open market as soon as they were eligible, they would command contracts similar to those signed by players like Tanaka. Amateur players are currently shafted almost as much as international players would be if the owners get their way.

Abolishing the amateur draft isn’t on the table during this round of negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement, but it should be in the future. Skeptics say that it’s incredibly risky for owners to have to pay so much money for unproven talent, but that’s the side on which the risk should fall. It should not fall on teenagers and players in their early 20’s, who are forced to live on less than $10,000 a year until they get the call to the major leagues.

At FanGraphs last year, Nathaniel Grow pointed out that, in 2002, player salaries accounted for more than 56 percent of league revenues. Today, the percentage is 38. The owners have done a very good job of using recent CBAs — like instituting the qualifying offer system — to tamp down the amount of money spent on talent. Teams have also become much smarter and more efficient with their spending. As a result, free agency is no longer the best place to find elite talent. Teams now are investing in statistics and scouting (both home and abroad) and abusing service time rules in order to milk out as much labor as possible before their players become eligible for arbitration and free agency.

We need to see a correction that brings the player salaries percentage closer to 50. It’s unlikely to be done in one fell swoop, but preventing the adoption of an international draft while still abolishing the QO system would be a great start. Then, tackle the amateur draft with the next CBA.

Nationals place Koda Glover on 10-day disabled list

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The Nationals have placed reliever Koda Glover on the 10-day disabled list due to a left hip impingement, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Glover said he is “extremely confident” that he’ll need only the minimum 10 days to recover.

Glover, 24, felt hip discomfort when throwing his first pitch in Tuesday’s relief appearance. He attributed it to the cold, per Janes.

Glover was one of a handful of candidates to handle the ninth inning for the Nationals. It’s been a mixed bag for him, as he has a loss and a blown save along with a 4.15 ERA and a 6/1 K/BB ratio in 8 2/3 innings.

Clay Buchholz apologized to the Phillies for getting injured

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MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.

According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.

It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.

Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.

Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.