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MLB expected to add draft-pick trades in next CBA, is officially America’s pastime again

May 10, 2021

Alex Trautwig

The MLB developmental system is, to put it kindly, ******. There’s service-time manipulation and arbitration. Every organization is somehow expected to turn three and four tiers of minor-league ball into a single viable business model and their solution to that impossible task is, in many cases, not to pay their players a liveable wage. As currently constructed, it’s a lose-lose for both sides of the equation.

For all Rob Manfred and co.’s numerous, comprehensive failings, however, there are signs they are open to sweeping structural change within baseball. Some of their plans have been met with resistance—namely minor-league contraction—but others, as outlined in a recent ESPN deep-dive into the MLB’s next chapter, offer considerably more optimism for the future of the sport. There are expected changes to Super Two arbitration and a long-overdue death sentence for service time, but the big one is buried here.

“One step deeper than that, the expected addition of trading draft picks, the addition of an international draft and the trading of picks in that new draft could completely change team-building strategies for years to come while solving some of the competitive-balance issues that have plagued the sport.”

Hell. Yes. Welcome to the 21st century, baseball. Better late than never.

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As any fan of the NFL and NBA tell you, we live for this sh*t. Draft pick trade allow your team to mortgage their future for the present and swap their present for their future. They allow you to go and get players you would never ordinarily be able to get based on player-to-player value alone and, most importantly, they turn draft-night broadcasts from drab procedurals to wham-bang blockbusters. They might even, in the long run, help to move the MLB away from their dependence on the MiLB system by increasing the importance of college baseball. (For now let’s just pretend like the NCAA wouldn’t immediately ruin that with their own arbitrary and punitive rules).

All in all, good news for baseball, good news for baseball fans, and GREAT news for draft nerds. If it takes another lockout to make it happen, this time it might actually be worth it.