May 9, 2020 / 8:31 AM / in a month

Reports: MLB shortens draft to five rounds

Major League Baseball reportedly cut the 2020 draft down to five rounds on Friday, immediately drawing criticism.

The status of the draft had been in flux amid the coronavirus pandemic, with reports in late March indicating the date would be pushed back to July.

Instead, according to multiple reports Friday, the draft will begin June 10 — last year’s draft was June 3-5. But the major changes come to the format.

With owners looking to save money in the wake of lost revenue as baseball remains on hold, the draft will be sliced from last year’s total of 40 rounds. After this year’s fifth round is completed, teams will be allowed to sign an unlimited number of undrafted players, but for a maximum of $20,000 each.

According to reports, MLB proposed a 10-round draft in exchange for a smaller pool of bonus money and a cap on the number of undrafted players who could get the $20,000 max, but the MLB Players Association found the limits too restrictive.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that scouts and front-office executives were against such a drastic cut to the length of the draft. Passan tweeted that the slot values for Rounds 6-10 amount to $29,578,100, less than $1 million a team, leading both amateur players and team executives to disagree with the decision to scrap those rounds.

Passan added that some owners pushed back in an effort to keep the draft as short as possible.

The $20,000 max on undrafted players was another item drawing much criticism in the wake of the reports. Per MLB.com, the bonus money allotted to the first pick in the sixth round in 2019 was $301,600. The bonus money for the last pick in the 10th round last year was $142,200.

Also per Passan, teams are allowed to delay signing bonuses, with a maximum of $100,000 to be paid within 30 days of a player signing, another payment due by July 1, 2021, and the remaining balance paid by July 1, 2022.

All of these changes were made possible by an agreement between the league and the union in late March that addressed numerous issues that permitted MLB to delay the season indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Baltimore Orioles will have the largest bonus pool to allot to its picks — $13.9 million, per MLB.com. The Tigers are next at $13.3 million. Detroit has the No. 1 overall pick, and the Orioles select second.

The Astros have the smallest pool at $2.2 million, largely as a result of their forfeiture of first- and second-round picks as part of the punishment for their cheating scandal.

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