Will Moncada signing push MLB even closer to an international draft?

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Drew Smyly drew some reaction for a comment he posted on his Twitter account recently.

After the Red Sox signed Cuban-born amateur Yoan Moncada for $31.5 million, Smyly made this remark:

* It’s not right that a Cuban 19yr old gets paid 30m and the best 19yr old in the entire USA gets prob 1/6th of that. Everyone should have to go through same process.

Later, Smyly told the Tampa Bay Times his comment was not personal about Moncada, but about the system of acquiring amateur players.

“I think it’s awesome that he got that, I’m all for any player making as much money as they can make in this game. So it’s nothing against him or any Cuban player,” Smyly said.

“I was only trying to say everyone else doesn’t have those opportunities. So I think there should be some way where everyone, every amateur, has the same opportunity and guidelines. And that’s not even America versus Cuba; Dominican Republic and Venezuela players don’t get that. They have never got close to that signing bonus.”

Some feel Moncada would have been the No. 1 player taken in the First-Year Player Draft had he been eligible to be in the draft.

The last two years, the top pick that signed through the draft got bonuses of $6.35 and $6 million. Indeed, a fraction of what Moncada got. But Moncada was an amateur free agent and when all teams can bid for your services, the price usually goes up. A player drafted in June has just one team that can offer him a deal and that, in conjunction with the slotting system in place, keeps those bonuses in the $6 million range for the very best players in the draft.

While no one needs to host a telethon for those players, the drafted player did not have the same leverage as Moncada. That is the point Smyly was making as I see it.

In addition, while a player from the United States cannot be drafted until he graduates high school, players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela can sign as amateurs at age 16 and are not subject to the draft. They can negotiate with any team.

So the system of entry for a player into pro baseball is not uniform around the world. That is where a separate international draft or a single worldwide draft could come into play, and some in MLB have been pushing for it. It didn’t happen with the last collective bargaining agreement, but we could see more discussion of it when the current CBA ends after the 2016 season.

By the way, here are the largest bonuses in Orioles history through the draft:

* Matt Wieters, 2007: $6 million
* Manny Machado, 2010: $5.25 million
* Kevin Gausman, 2012: $4.32 million
* Dylan Bundy, 2011: $4 million
* Adam Loewen, 2002: $3.2 million

Here are the rules of eligibility for players from the United States. Players from Canada and Puerto Rico also are subject to the draft:

* High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college.

* College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old.

* Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed.

The current system allowed Moncada to earn millions more than he would have gotten through the draft. It also allowed the Red Sox to also basically ignore the 100 percent tax they paid for going over their alloted international signing budget.

All of this has just led to more talk about a worldwide draft as MLB attempts to develop one system for all players to enter the pro game, no matter where they were born.

ESPN’s Keith Law wrote this after the Moncada signing:

If you thought MLB might ease up on its push for an international draft, this contract should dispel those delusions. Any system that allows the free flow of money from owners to players is a target for MLB in labor negotiations, and you can bet they’ll try to stanch this particular torrent by rolling Cuban amateurs into either a new international draft that covers all so-called “July 2nd” players or into a single worldwide draft that includes all amateur players regardless of their nations of origin.

Under the current system, no high school player from the United States will ever earn a bonus like Moncada got and they are not free to talk with any team, only the club that drafted them.

Do you think MLB needs to add an international draft and/or hold one draft where players worldwide are involved?

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