The 2020 MLB draft will take place on Wednesday, June 10, as planned. The unplanned part, at least relative to a few months ago, is that the draft will only be five rounds long, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic. The abbreviated draft will be the shortest in MLB history (since the draft’s inception in 1965).
A five-round draft is the shortest possible arrangement, per a March agreement between the owners and MLB Players Association at the start of the coronavirus shutdown. At the time, the two sides agreed that the draft would be anywhere from five to 40 rounds, with most expecting the draft to be 10 rounds at the longest.
Put simply, this is crap. MLB owners have wanted to shorten the draft and cut minor league rosters for a while now, and are using the current shutdown as an excuse to get their way. According to Rosenthal, the commissioner’s office previously proposed a 10 round draft, but it came with too many concessions on the players’ side.
Instead, we get this.
There is a lot of disappointment from amateur players, front offices, scouting circles -- really everywhere -- in the decision to limit the 2020 draft to five rounds, and it comes down to this: The slot values for Rounds 6-10 total $29,578,100. That's less than $1 million a team.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 8, 2020
No details on bonus structure for the top five rounds have been released, but given the MLBPA’s resistance to the aforementioned 10-round proposal, we expect bonuses to stay the same as previously announced. The Detroit Tigers, who hold the No. 1 overall pick, should have a bonus pool of $13,325,700 for their six picks (they also hold a competitive balance round pick, No. 62 overall). The top overall pick comes with an allotted bonus of $8,415,300.
Following the five rounds of the draft, teams will be able to sign an unlimited number of undrafted free agents to a maximum bonus of $20,000. This is a much lower figure than the $125,000 maximum bonus allotted to players drafted in the 11th round or later in previous years, further signaling how much the owners want to save money right now. While some pundits are predicting how and where these players will sign...
Teams in places with strong amateur bases (FL, GA, TX, CA) will likely have advantages in the UDFA market. Legacy teams (BOS, NYY, LAD, CHC) have fans everywhere and could, too. Ps will want fast track to majors. Position players will look at orgs with no depth at their spot. https://t.co/4Ecsm72upG— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) May 8, 2020
...I wonder if many of these players will even decide to go pro. The NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility for all spring sport athletes, meaning that any draft-eligible college player (even the seniors) could choose to go back to school rather than accept a paltry signing bonus. High school players will also likely be wary of turning pro, and could either choose to honor commitments to major college programs, or go the junior college route and enter what is sure to be a loaded 2021 class.
With a date finally set for the 2020 draft, make sure to check back as we ramp up our draft coverage. We will also add to this post as needed if more details on the draft itself become available.