Given all the talk about baseball economics and unfair advantages afforded to deep-pocketed clubs, and Chief Wahoo's passionate screed and the equally
dismissive passionate commentary that followed, I thought I'd take a couple ideas I've had kicking around my head and see if we can't think of a way to make the draft process work for everyone. This is especially important these days when the economic disparity is so great (between teams that own their own TV networks and those that must pay to get their games on local TV.)
It is a most delicate process, as the interests of keeping the field level for small market teams must be tempered by the union and its fight to ensure the players are "fairly compensated." As an unapologetic Canadian pinko, there is no way in hell I'm interested in imposing a hard slotting system on player bonuses as in the NBA, because Andrea Bargnani ain't no Lebron James just as Bryan Bullington ain't no Stephen Strasburg.
Without overhauling the entire basis of baseball business, how can even the playing field for teams handcuffed by penny-pinching owners? One simple way: allow trading draft picks.
One of the main complaints about the existing slotting system (merely a guideline and often dismissed out of hand) is it prevents struggling clubs from drafting the best players available to them as they are unable to meet their bonus/salary demands. If we allow draft picks to be traded, teams can either select the best player(s) or entertain offers from teams more in the stud's price range. As I see it, allow trading draft picks until 2 weeks after the signing deadline, currently August 15th. If a potential trading partner is willing to work with the agent's number, the drafting team can sweeten the pot. If the unsigned player isn't traded, he goes back into the draft with the original drafting team receiving the current level of compensation.
This is seemingly minor change that could benefit all teams. The big spenders can still flex their might but the little guys have more leverage. The draftees don't have to sacrifice much aside from the increased chance of playing in Pittsburgh. Giving quoteunderfundedunquote teams the opportunity to draft the best available players is really all anyone can expect of any amateur draft.
The international draft scene is rife with landmines (seriously, the Cambodian baseball association is an international force!) and attempting to impose North American labor law didn't work where my shoes, jeans, computer, car, hat, phone, or food were made, why would it work in baseball?
Full draft rules and regulations available here (Wikipedia. Shhh).