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MLB pushing to implement an international draft

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One of the hottest topics of this offseason will be the expiration of baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and the changes that could come as a result.

New York Yankees v Atlanta Braves
The current system, which allowed the Braves to sign Andruw Jones, Julio Teheran, and many other great players, could soon be a thing of the past.
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

For as long as Major League Baseball teams have been extracting young international players from overseas, the process by which they did so has been a wild, unregulated mess. The landscape of acquiring these players has become corrupt, and the necessity for change has never been more evident.

Buster Olney of reported today that the upcoming expiration of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement may in fact bring about change: an international draft.

Under the terms of MLB's initial concept, the new international draft system would start in March of 2018, with a 10-round draft held over two days. As the new structure evolved, with terms grandfathered into the process, the minimum age for draft-eligible players would be 18 years old by 2021.

Maybe the most surprising detail provided by Olney is the target date set by MLB, which would seem to suggest some urgency on the part of the league to implement a new system as soon as possible. If the inaugural draft is in fact held in 2018, then that would leave just one more international signing period.

As part of baseball's proposal, MLB would operate facilities in the Dominican Republic, where international draft prospects would be invited to live to develop their skills and education before becoming eligible. This would also give MLB much greater control over a process which has often been viewed by baseball executives as a wild, wild West of player procurement.

In addition to providing a concrete system through which teams can make regulated acquisitions, MLB is also considering the possibility of creating a facility to house players in the Dominican Republic. This aspect of the report leaves many unanswered questions with regards to the selection process and whether or not players would be funding themselves while living in the housing provided by MLB.

From a Braves perspective, this news could have an effect on the timetable for Atlanta to re-enter the international market for players. As we all know, the Braves went well beyond their bonus pool allotment during this year’s international signing period, bringing in high-profile talents like Kevin Maitan, Yunior Severino, and Abrahan Gutierrez. In doing so, the Braves barred themselves from signing any player for over $300,000 either of the next two signing periods, which would include 2018. However, with the news that an international draft may be in place by that time, it remains to be seen how teams such as the Braves and Padres, who will be under restrictions, will be affected.

Whether or not Atlanta is able to participate in the inaugural international draft in 2018, changes appear to be on the horizon. As more details are announced we will have them covered here at Talking Chop.