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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.

Astros’ Verlander to have elbow surgery, miss rest of season

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Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner announced the news Saturday on his Instagram account in a 1½-minute video.

“In my simulated game a couple days ago, I felt something in my elbow, and after looking at my MRI and conversing with some of the best doctors in the world, we’ve determined that Tommy John surgery is my best option,” Verlander said.

He threw to hitters on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured in the team’s opener on July 24. He threw 50 pitches in the bullpen before throwing about 25 pitches to hitters in two simulated innings.

“I tried as hard as I could to come back and play this season,” Verlander said. “Unfortunately, my body just didn’t cooperate.”

Verlander has been on the injured list with a right forearm strain. He went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 2019.

“Obviously, this is not good news,” Verlander said. “However, I’m going to handle this the only way I know how. I’m optimistic. I’m going to put my head down, work hard, attack this rehab and hopefully, come out the other side better for it.

“I truly believe everything that everything happens for a reason, and although 2020 has sucked, hopefully, when this rehab process is all said and done, this will allow me to charge through the end of my career and be healthy as long as I want and pitch as long as I want and accomplish some of the goals that I want in my career.”

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