An announcement on the 2020 MLB Draft is expected soon, and J.J. Cooper of Baseball America says that the expectation is that the draft will take place on its originally scheduled date of June 10, 2020. There is an agreement between the MLB and MLBPA that the draft could take place anytime between June 10 and July 20, but it appears MLB won’t be moving the date.
Cooper also reports, however, that MLB, which got an agreement with the MLBPA to shorten the draft to five to ten rounds (from its original forty rounds), is expected to limit the draft to five rounds, with a $20,000 limit for signing bonuses for any undrafted player, and all but $100,000 of signing bonuses for drafted players being deferred until 2021 and 2022.
That’s a rather draconian cut that dramatically reduces the bargaining power of amateurs, and means that we’re likely to see many more high school players go to school rather than sign this year. Cooper also notes that it gives a lot of leverage to teams in negotiating bonuses — the team with the final pick in the draft can offer a player well below slot if he signs there, knowing that the player’s only other choices would be to sign for $20,000 as an undrafted free agent or postpone going pro for a year.
I do think that this is a situation that the Texas Rangers could be better positioned to land talent in than many teams. The Rangers have a reputation for casting a very wide net in their scouting and being able to identify unheralded amateurs that other teams aren’t in that turn into prospects. Texas also has a reputation for treating their minor leaguers better than most organizations, which, if a player is picking between multiple $20,000 offers, could impact the player’s decision.
Its going to be, like so much in 2020, uncharted territory whenever the draft is. I plan on starting draft previews for potential Ranger picks next week, and while the sudden switch to picking college players that happened last year means more players who are potential selections anyway, the uncertainty surrounding things and lack of recent scouting information means that the draft is likely to be much more unpredictable than usual.