Slightly encouraging news from Yahoo! Sports reporter Jeff Passan who suggests the MLB plan to take the draft into Latin America might be shelved for another year. The largely unpopular choice to further exploit the international labor pool was recently opposed by many current players. Miguel Cabrera, Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano were among 150 current players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Cuba to sign a petition circulated during Spring Training voicing the current generation’s opposition to the international draft. Even players from Puerto Rico — Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina among them — signed the petition, after their own experiences as Latin Americans with experience in the draft.

According to Passan, the league and union have agreed to put off the decision until next year, meaning business as usual in Latin America.

In addition to players worrying about the next generation’s earning potential, there is a growing concern among the international scouting community that the draft will render their services redundant. Ben Badler of Baseball America gets a telling quote from one (unnamed) scout:

“I think jobs will be in jeopardy,” said one scout. “Take Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Curacao, all those countries that produce three or four players per year. Why am I going to have someone there if MLB’s going to put those guys in a showcase? I’m going to see the guy, then I’ll be able to go back, get to know the player and know the family, see them play three times a year and I’m done. That’s my main concern. The guys from the Dominican Republic who cover half the country, the guys in Venezuela, they’re going to be fine. The countries who don’t produce a lot of players, their jobs could be in jeopardy.”

Trainers and agents are among others who stand to lose from MLB’s grubby hands unceremoniously entering the Latin American baseball pocket.

While the pleas from players are compelling, the international market also badly needs an overhaul. What is MLB’s endgame when it comes to actively inserting themselves into the international market? Is the league’s footprint going to be more than financial? The draft undertaking is not a simple one, which probably informs the decision delay more than concerns about potential casualties.

It really seems like a matter of when, not if. The rich talent pipeline provides an overwhelming amount of cheap labour for the the teams, even as the bonuses paid to Latin teenagers creep up and up. It is doubtful the players want to maintain the status quo but the union needs to step up for their future members – unsavoury as that proposition might be.

Update! Looks like it be off the table until the end of the current CBA. Not bad!

Comments (3)

  1. The international draft has no other purpose than to save clubs a small sum by making it easier to sign players for less money because of designated slot payments which poor kids will have to take because they have no fall back like college.

  2. The union has been more about the current crop than the future crop for a while (witness what went on with the college/high school draft), so it’s interesting to see the players stepping out against this initially.

  3. I don’t see how “international” this international draft is the main focus is on clubs just getting Latin American players for cheap and if most of the countries in Europe and Asia are probably not going to be involved…

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