Is MLB about to limit spending on the draft?

If Major League Baseball is looking to limit spending on draft picks in the new collective bargaining agreement, I am strongly against that.

Clubs should be allowed to spend whatever amount they choose on the draft. It is one area where the so-called small market teams can spend with the big boys. They can’t match the 25-man roster payrolls of the Yankees and Red Sox, but they can outspend them for draft picks.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports published this story last night. Here is an excerpt from the story:

“Under the CBA, teams will be permitted to spend as much as they would like on individual picks, but will be penalized in progressive fashion if the total for their entire draft class exceeds a certain threshold.

A team that exceeds the threshold by a small amount will pay a tax, sources say. A team that exceeds the threshold by a larger amount also will lose a first-round pick. After that, additional penalties will apply.”

Amazing. The draft is the one area where the losing teams can try to gain on the big boys and baseball is now considering penalizing the biggest spending clubs here. I just think that is one of the worst moves baseball could make.

According to Baseball America, here are the clubs that spent the most on draft bonuses from 2007 through 2011:

$52.0 million - Pittsburgh
$51.0 million - Washington
$45.2 million - Kansas City
$44.1 million - Boston
$41.2 million - Baltimore

The Orioles don’t rank anywhere near the top spending clubs in overall team payroll, but they do rank fifth in draft bonuses over the last five drafts.

Four of the five teams listed above are not winning clubs and now there is a chance baseball will limit what the have-nots can spend on draft picks. In a sport that struggles to produce true competitive balance, this will not come as great news to a losing club looking to rebuild through the draft.

If baseball put some sort of salary cap on overall draft spending, a losing team with a high draft pick may have to take a player due to signability reasons to allow them to spend more on other picks. Or if they decide to blow their budget on the top pick, they will be limited in later rounds.

It should be pointed out that this has not yet been implemented but if the Rosenthal story proves accurate, baseball will be making it even harder for the losing and small-market teams to gain on the big boys.

That is a terrible idea.

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