How The Dodgers Can Sign MLB Undrafted Free Agents
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Now that the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft has come and gone, the focus for the Los Angeles Dodgers front office will shift towards potentially signing undrafted free agents.

With the draft being shortened from 40 down to just five rounds this year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the undrafted free-agent pool is perhaps the best ever. And with it is a new system in place for teams to sign said players.

Under the new rules, teams can begin signing an unlimited number of undrafted players at 6 a.m. PT on Sunday morning. Prior to that, MLB sent an email to players for them to respond as to whether or not they remain interested in pursuing a career at present time.

Those who essentially opt out cannot be contacted by teams. Otherwise, players have the ability to sign with any of the 30 teams, although signing bonuses have been capped at $20,000.

The Dodgers have $5,928,400 in bonus pool money at their disposal, but teams can only use that on drafted players. That, along with the relatively low maximum signing bonus, could lead to the best undrafted free agents returning to school.

Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino said the club has prepared a recruiting video to present to players, and may enlist part-owner Magic Johnson and manager Dave Roberts to aid in pitches.

Gasparino added he is excited to see how the process plays out even if there’s uncertainty. “I guess if I knew who was going to say, ‘Yes, give me a call,’ I would be really excited,” he said.

“I’m just not sure. I think you guys know as well as I do, $20,000 is just a lot different than what these players are used to getting late in the Draft. I just don’t know what they’re going to think.”

The Dodgers are known to have one of the best player development staffs in baseball in recent years, consistently maintaining one of the top farm systems while also winning the National League West the last seven seasons in part due to contributions from young players.

Because of that, Gasparino feels they have an advantage when pitching undrafted free agents. “I do think our track record of development and success with later-round picks is really going to help us when we go to sell our organization,” he said.

“Because it really is a recruiting process at this point. I would take our chances against any other team in executing and really trying to sell these guys on who we are and what we’ve done. I’m excited to be able to do that. I just don’t have a real good grasp on the reality of how enticing $20,000 is. It won’t be for everyone. It might not be for many.”

There remains a ton of uncertainty surrounding college baseball due to the pandemic. Even though that may lead to some players signing for just $20,000, Gasparino concluded that the Dodgers are not going to sign players just to sign them.

“We’re going to go after college juniors. There’s a few different arguments you can make, where I think college baseball, given the COVID-19 conditions, is kind of up in the air as well,” he noted.

“And there is some advantage to coming in with us in a smaller draft class. If you’re one of 10 or 12 guys we end up signing, instead of 30, that helps your cause. I do think we’re going to be able to play some baseball this year, we just don’t really know what.

“We have a couple seniors that we’ve identified as guys we want to go after, but we feel good about the players we have in our system. So there is a line of talent that it’s going to have achieve for us to make a signing. We’re just not going to go randomly sign guys. There’s no real need.”

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