Major League Baseball is considering the introduction of an international player draft in 2020, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America.
“MLB officials met (Tuesday) with international club personnel in Miami and told them that owners are in support on an international draft and want it in place as soon as possible,” Badler reported. “MLB solicited feedback from international scouting officials on its draft concept, so a lot of the specifics – including the number of rounds, when a draft would begin and other details – are still likely to change.”
The draft, which could also be introduced in 2021, could take place in August and feature 20 rounds, according to Badler. The MLBPA would need to sign off on any proposal.
Unlike the regular MLB Draft, the order for selections would be determined by division, with one division getting the top-five picks followed by a second division and so forth, rotating in order every year. Picks will also be able to be traded, and each pick will have a hard slot value assigned to it.
The current process for teams to recruit international players is called the MLB International Signing period, which opens on July 2 each season and runs to June 15 of the following year. Each team has a certain amount of signing pool money to spend on international prospects, but that money can be traded.
Players eligible to sign must turn 16 by Sept. 1 of the signing period. The Toronto Blue Jays signed Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to a $3.9-million contract when he was 16 in 2015 under this system.
However, the current system has been mired in controversy in recent years, with teams allegedly agreeing to contracts with players when they are only 13 or 14 years old. Introducing an international draft would, in theory, help limit teams from recruiting players years before they are eligible to sign.