Draft could be focus in baseball labor talks

No one is talking about any strikes or lockouts in Major League Baseball, but the collective bargaining agreement in the sport does expire after this coming season in December.

The sides have already had labor talks in Florida and they are expected to resume soon in Arizona.

Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan expects discussion about the First-Year Player Draft and the possible changes to it to be on the table over the next several months.

“Yeah, I do. I don’t know necessarily what changes will be made, but I do think that it definitely sounds like it’s a focal point and there have been a lot of discussions,” Jordan said.

Jordan feels the players and owners’ representatives could take a hard look at the process for allocating compensation picks to a club that losses a free agent.

“I think how the draft is run right now for the most part, I’m good with it. One thing that could be discussed, I’m hearing, is the compensation picks. How will we deal with compensation for losing free agents in the future?” he said.

“I’d like to see them look at that, but beyond that, I don’t have a problem with how the draft is done. Each club, the scouting director, owner and general manager have to have the ability to allocate their money the way they want to. We’ve got to be able to do that in our situation down in the draft. I want to be able to take a Parker Bridwell in the ninth round, pay him the money I feel he is worth and go with it.”

It seems likely that some talk of a more hard-slotting system for paying bonuses to draft picks could be in play during the talks. That could lead to fewer overslot signings.

“Could be,” Jordan said. “I’m not sure how that will play out. I’m certain that will be a big focus of what they are talking about. I’ll adjust to whatever they do. If they make changes, we’ll adjust.”

Jordan said he was not sure if discussions will take place for an international draft.

“I haven’t been a part of much of that type conversation. I haven’t heard a lot of discussion about that.”

As for the compensation picks, talk of changes there could be on the table. Jordan knows most of his AL East rivals have benefited from those picks and have had more than the Orioles in recent years.

“That’s the rule. I don’t have a problem with Tampa Bay this year having nine or 10 picks before I pick in the second round. I wish it were me, obviously, but can’t begrudge them because those are the rules. They played by the rules that are in place,” Jordan added.

“I do think that’s a topic where there is some interest and maybe it needs to be adjusted. We’ll see what happens, but all these clubs that have extra picks, that is the rule. I’ll be very envious in June when they start picking all those guys.

“We’ve had what we’ve had. It’s a big, big advantage when you can pick nine or ten times before another club makes its second pick.”

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