With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic bringing sports and the United States economy to a grinding halt over the past two months, it’s led to a sea of change and instability across multiple sectors.
Major League Baseball continues to evaluate its options for staging a 2020 regular season, which will be unlikely any other in recent memory. While players face the prospect of games without fans in attendance, in addition to other changes, the 2020 MLB Draft is also going to have a different look.
In late March, MLB secured approval to potentially reduce the rounds and change the dates of the 2020 and 2021 Drafts. This past week it was reported the expectation was the 2020 MLB Draft would only be five rounds, reduced from 40.
According to Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel of ESPN, that’s now the plan, with the Draft beginning June 10:
Major League Baseball will cut its 2020 draft to five rounds, as owners looking to save costs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic pushed for fewer rounds over the objection of front-office officials, sources told ESPN.
The draft is expected to begin June 10.
This marks the second change to the MLB Draft since 2012, when it was trimmed from 50 to 40 rounds. Along with capping it at five this year — meaning only 150 players will be selected — draft bonus payments are being delayed.
The maximum up-front payment in 2020 and 2021 will be $100,000 within 30 days of an approved contract, 50% of the remaining value will be paid on July 1 of the following year year, then the balance on July 1 two years later. Undrafted players cannot sign for more than $20,000 in both the 2020 and 2021 drafts.
The new draft system figures to benefit the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have been able to maintain one of the best farm systems in baseball in recent years despite boasting one of the top records and winning seven consecutive National League West titles.
One benefit that an organization like the Dodgers will have with the 2020 class is the ability to sign undrafted players.
With all teams only able to offer a maximum of $20,000, it’s reasonable to believe the Dodgers’ history of developing players, as well as their winning tradition, will help them land some of the best available prospects.
Commissioner Rob Manfred has the authority to shorten the 2021 MLB Draft to 20 rounds and move it to as late as July 20 if necessary.
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