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#The 2020 draft a rare positive sign for MLB

#The 2020 draft a rare positive sign for MLB

June 9, 2020 | 8:21pm

The way things have gone in Major League Baseball lately, you half-expect the first pick of Wednesday night’s amateur draft, upon his name being announced, to respond, “Nah, I’m good. I’m gonna go work in corporate sales for Zoom.”

Alas, even a broken clock gets it right twice a day, as the saying goes. So this draft provides baseball with its first true serving of positivity since its March 12 coronavirus shutdown.

Finally, a baseball event goes on as scheduled, even if not as originally designed. Finally, teams will invest, rather than divest, in their futures. How much they’re willing to invest in these coming days will provide another test of both their robustness and their character.

The draft will last just five rounds, quite the drop from last year’s 40 — a decision made by the owners (with collectively bargained consent from the players) that many of their own employees, if compelled to tell the truth, would criticize as shortsighted. But if the owners have shown us anything during this extremely challenging time for our country and our planet, it’s that most can’t see the forest for the trees, a reality further underlined by the fact that players’ signing bonuses will be deferred considerably.

Will any at least capitalize on this sellers’ market? As per the terms of this setup, undrafted players can sign for no more than $20,000, which explains why many high school players will bypass these festivities, play for a college team and hope against hope that the world will improve in the coming years.

The idea of the deferred signing bonuses in particular “suggests that there is pretty serious financial concern among the owners,” said Dave Howard, former Mets president, “and potentially the big-market teams would have a bit of an advantage.” With just five rounds, Howard added, “Now the Yankees can go out and sign 20 guys as free agents that otherwise would be sixth- or seventh-round picks. That’s a huge advantage,”

Rob Manfred
Rob ManfredAP

The Yankees hardly have distinguished themselves these past few months, enacting one of the most deliberate and least forgiving ticket-refund policies and releasing 45 minor league players. We’ll see soon enough whether they rank among the more visionary entities on this front. Undrafted players can start signing Sunday at 9 a.m.

If you can see beyond this unsightliness — if you can harken back to, say, 10 years ago, when the Mets chose Matt Harvey in the first round or 15 years ago when the Yankees popped Brett Gardner in the third round — then perhaps you’ll be able to drive joy, faith and promise from the handful of new players added to your favorite team’s system. You’ll look forward to tracking them in the minor leagues when those (hopefully) resume next year.

Baseball sure could use a day with happiness and without rancor, with money spent rather than saved. In the best-case scenario, it sparks the owners and players to work harder on finding common ground for their 2020 restart. Short of that? At least enjoy the oasis of something nice for the game.

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