MLB officially shortens 2020 draft to five rounds

Looking to save costs from an already ravished 2020 season, MLB has slashed the upcoming June MLB Draft down to just five rounds in length.

Now at the conclusion of the current week, a lot has taken place within the baseball industry: ESPN’s deal to broadcast KBO games, increased discussions regarding a return-to-play proposal, and now, a final verdict on the already heavily altered 2020 MLB Draft — all of this just days before both MLB and the MLBPA are expected to collaborate on an official return date (a meeting expected to take place this coming Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel).

With UFC 249 set to take place in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday (granted, with no fans in attendance), and the other three major American sports (NFL, NBA, NHL) still seemingly a step behind, Major League Baseball continues to pace the field as perhaps the returner of normalcy for sports fans in the U.S.

However, such an ability to conquer its current setbacks doesn’t necessarily mean the league isn’t setting itself up for even more pain in the future, and the decision to cut the draft down to the minimum as well as the pending mess regarding the contraction of the minor leagues is a perfect example.

Baseball may indeed be the first sport back in America, but boy does it have issues to deal with once this pandemic and potentially patched-together season is over with.

But that’s an entirely different type of discussion…

As far as the 2020 draft goes, Passan and McDaniel released a write-up on Friday evening detailing the official plan, with most of the specifics remaining consistent with what the two sides (MLB and the MLBPA) agreed upon back in March:

  • The 2020 MLB Draft will be five rounds in length (the minimum the two sides agreed on a few months ago).
  • Teams will be allowed to sign an unlimited number of undrafted players for $20,000 (not just five players, as MLB tried to push in its revision from last week).
  • Teams will be allowed to delay signing bonuses, with a max of $100,000 to be paid within 30 days of a player signing, 50% of the remainder due July 1, 2021, and the rest due a year from then.
  • MLB is also allowed to delay the opening of the international signing period from July 2 to as late as January 15, 2021; though, according to Passan and McDaniel the league has yet to officially inform teams of when that period will begin.

It’s pretty simple here what MLB is accomplishing, and you can’t fault them entirely from a business perspective (even if it’s a business that brought in over $10 billion in revenue last season).

The league is saving money. Plain and simple.

And by eliminating draft rounds, MLB is in fact cutting expenses, though on a team-by-team basis the savings seems hardly notable (especially given the obvious ramifications). By dropping the draft from 10 rounds to five, teams will save almost $30 million combined in overall slot values — a million per team, though only around $500,000 in actual cash due to the new signing-bonus rules (according to ESPN).

But a $500,000 savings is a win for a team owner, even if it comes with the cost of a massive influx of players at the collegiate level (where scholarships are already limited), not to mention the numerous players that will go undrafted or unsigned.

The 2020 MLB Draft is expected to begin on June 10.