The shortened 2020 MLB,will be held remotely, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports (Twitter thread). It’s not a particularly surprising development but is nevertheless yet another departure from the norm. Per Passan, teams won’t be permitted to have draft rooms. Each club’s head of baseball operations will be on camera during the draft, without audio, as was the case with last month’s virtually conducted NFL Draft. The MLB Draft will be conducted on June 10-11, with Day One includinng just the first round and Day Two featuring the rest.
This year’s draft has been shortened to just five rounds — a reality brought about by owners strongly pushing back against paying the wide slate of bonuses associated with a traditional 40-round draft amid widespread revenue losses. Undrafted players will be able to sign with any club, although those bonuses will be capped at just $20K.
As such, the next several drafts figure to have a substantial influx of talent, with so many would-be mid-round prospects forgoing their first steps into pro ball. The truncated structure will also come with significant ramifications in the NCAA, as countless prep prospects who would’ve gone pro will now instead opt for college ball. Many juniors will return for a senior season when they otherwise would not have, as well.
The No. 1 overall pick, held by the Tigers, will come with a slot value of $8,415,300, tweets The Athletics Ken Rosenthal — the same slot value as the No. 1 pick in 2019. As for the actual payout of bonuses, they’ll be heavily deferred. Rosenthal notes that only $100K will be paid to players up front. They’ll receive 50% of their remaining bonus in July 2021 and the other 50% in July 2022.
It’s been known for some time that this year’s slot values won’t increase, as they do on an annual basis in every other year — another ownership-driven issue that did not sit well with agents. The MLBPA agreed to numerous concessions on the draft when negotiating the March agreement that granted players service time and at least a small portion of their salary in the event of a canceled season or prorated salaries in a partial season. Draft prospects, of course, aren’t represented by the union, and the Players Association sought to protect its members first and foremost. Owners have since contended that said agreement didn’t account for spectator-less games and sought further salary reduction among MLB players.