We’re closely approaching one of my least favorite times of the baseball year, the Major League Baseball amateur draft. It’s a topic I have written about numerous times in the past and usually with the same tint. That tint is that there shouldn’t be an MLB amateur draft and it’s a crime against every player drafted that they have to take part in such a farce. My views on that haven’t changed this year, if anything they have become even more militant.
The MLB amateur draft is nothing more than a cattle call. It is a chance for teams to draft players, offer them a pittance, and then tell them they have no choice in who they play for or when. There’s literally no reason for the MLB draft to exist. Think about what the draft means for a second? It’s a way to remove freedom of choice from players who want to play the game of baseball professionally. Sure, they could choose to not go the MLB route, but that is a fairy tale land where MLB hasn’t used its anti-trust exemption to crush any league that dares to compete with the organization on equal footing.
MLB prides itself on being part of a capitalist system. They make lots of money because of that system, so of course, the organization, its member clubs, and their owners would be happy with what capitalism has brought to their feet. Somewhere along the lines, the owners were able to use capitalism to instill in people the idea that the only affordable way for players to come into the league was through a draft. That is a snake oil sale if I’ve ever heard one.
Instead of non-MLB players showing their wares and signing the best possible deal for themselves, they have to either take the deal offered to them in the draft or risk not playing in MLB at all. For just about every player there’s no choice. If you’re good enough perhaps you can afford to go back to college for another year, or just enter college in general, and play well enough (while avoiding injury) so that you can reenter the draft the following year and get more money. Even if a player goes that route they are still left with the same problem they had the first time they entered the draft; they have to sign with the team that drafted them or they can’t play.
This system doesn’t exist anywhere else in the professional world outside of team sports. Professors don’t get their PhD’s and then enter a draft to see which university will get their services. I didn’t become a Paramedic and enter a draft among fire departments to hopefully get to practice medicine. Name your career, there is no draft involved unless it is a team sport. These players should have the ability to ply their trade where they so choose. There’s no reason Spencer Torkelson shouldn’t be able to say, “you know what, I’ve decided I want to play for the Los Angeles Angels, sorry every other team that was interested.”
Eliminating the draft would be a surefire way of removing some power from the hands of MLB owners. A group of people who have shown repeatedly that they should be entrusted with power about as easily as you should trust Montgomery Burns to give you a fair deal. MLB teams can afford to pay oncoming players the signing bonuses and wages they negotiate. Realistically, the free market being what it is there is no logical or ethical reason why the MLB amateur draft exists and is robbing younger players from the chance to negotiate the best possible deal for their future.
Get rid of the draft I say, it would instantly make baseball better and would, theoretically, help to eliminate a fair amount of tanking. More importantly than any of that, give these young players back their right to choose where they want to work and live. It’s inhumane that we don’t give them that right. The MLB amateur draft being a cattle call, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at how giddily team executives, owners, and MLB itself are about stripping labor rights away from oncoming players. Get rid of the draft for good, MLB will be all the better for it, and so will the lives of the players who get to skip the cattle call.