The Major League Baseball Players Association rejected MLB’s final proposal to organize a draft for international players ahead of Monday’s midnight ET deadline.
When the two sides settled their 99-day lockout in March, among the compromises was to continue discussing the idea of an international draft. They set Monday as the cutoff to come to an agreement.
“Players made clear from the outset that any International Draft must meaningfully improve the status quo for those players and not unfairly discriminate between those players and domestic entrants,” the MLBPA said in a statement. “To this end the Players Association made a series of proposals aimed at protecting and advancing the rights of international amateurs.
“At their core, each of our proposals was focused on protecting against the scenario that all players fear the most — the erosion of our game on the world stage, with international players becoming the latest victim in baseball’s prioritization of efficiency over fundamental fairness. The league’s responses fell well short of anything players could consider a fair deal.”
Had the sides agreed to an international draft, it would have been for prospects from outside the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico and would have begun in 2024. Players from the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico are included in the league’s current annual draft, which took place last week at Los Angeles.
As part of the negotiation, the qualifying offer system for international free agents would have ended in exchange for teams owning a player’s rights through a 20-round selection process.
An initial MLB offer called for $181 million to be spent each year on international players who were drafted, while the MLBPA was in search of at least $260 million players for the 600 players that would be selected on an annual basis.
The MLBPA said its proposals for the draft aimed to establish not only minimum guarantees in player signings, compensation and roster spots, but also investments in infrastructure and an “educational and player development safety net.”
“We are disappointed the MLBPA chose the status quo over transitioning to an international draft that would have guaranteed future international players larger signing bonuses and better educational opportunities while enhancing transparency to best address the root causes of corruption in the current system,” an MLB spokesperson said in a statement.
Issues have developed over the years with outside parties claiming a portion of international players’ signing bonuses, as well as commitments reached with players far below the required minimum age of 16.
–Field Level Media