August 18, 2009

The Strasburg fiasco

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

By now, it should be no secret: Something has to be done about the MLB draft and its signing system. Too much power is given to the prospects and, ergo, their agents and it hurts the system. Throw in the fact that players actually slide due to their signability and it’s fairly obvious something needs to be happen.

There was a lot of hub-bub last night leading up to the midnight deadline and while it was exciting watching this deals come down to the wire, the excitement might have been the only good thing about it.

High Schoolers and college players from the U.S. are forced to be drafted and then signed by that team while international players and players that defect from Cuba can simply sign wherever they wish, since they’re considered free agents. How is that right? Can there not be an international draft?

A phenom like Stephen Strasburg could ask for as much money as he wants, no matter how ridiculous the demand, and if he doesn’t sign, nothing happens. He can go and play in Japan next year and then be drafted again in next year’s draft. And he probably would have gone No. 1 again because he’s just that good.

Why not a slotted system like the NBA uses? I would say like the NFL as well, but too often we’ll see a guy like Michael Crabtree try to break the slotting and it only ends up messing up his and his team’s seasons, but also future player’s ideas that they can challenge the system as well. With the NBA, it’s basically: You were drafted here; you will be paid this much for this many years. Is there something wrong with that? It keeps everyone in line and keeps everyone happy.

Strasburg did end up signing with the Nationals, saving them the task of potentially drafting first and second overall next year. The deal was reportedly for four years and $15.067-million, a big step up from the previous record that Mark Prior signed ($10.5 million). Let’s see if he outperforms the former injury-prone Cub.

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