Pittsburgh Pirates: International Amateur Draft on the Table
The Pittsburgh Pirates and the rest of Major League Baseball may see a change in how International free agency works.
We are still waiting on Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball. Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of reporting on what has been discussed in a potential new CBA between the Player’s Union and Major League Baseball. Some of these changes are a done deal with the Designated Hitter being installed into the National League and an expanded playoff format to at least 12 teams. However, when no deal was reached during last week’s talks we as fans went a few days without hearing much in terms of negotiations.
Well, today a big piece of new and relevant information came out. According to reports from MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince, the Owners proposed an International Draft to the Player’s Union. This is not the first time we have heard of this concept as many expected it to be brought up during this round of CBA talks. However, up until this point, there has not really been a word about it. Here is what Castrovince said about the talks on a potential International Draft:
"An International Draft has been a topic of interest in baseball for many years. It has come to a head in these CBA talks because of the growing concerns with handshake deals and the growing influence of international talent."
As Castrovince points out in his write-up, this is an important decision for the two sides. The International Market has changed over the years. In 2012 bonus pool limits were put into place much like they are for the MLB Amateur Draft. However, teams were not limited to how much money they could hand out to any single prospect.
Also, the International Free Agent Market has been broken by numerous people. John Coppolella was banned from Baseball in 2017. It had come out that he was breaking rules to sign Amateur Free Agents, including backdoor deals, package deals, and premature deals before players were eligible to sign. The Braves had to return 12 players back into free agency. One of those players is Ji-Hwan Bae, a Pittsburgh Pirates prospect.
Just a few years later the Pittsburgh Pirates saw their own Head of International Scouting, Rene Gayo, get the same ban from Baseball. In simple terms, Gayo was misleading the PIttsburgh Pirates on prospects’ ability in hopes to get them to pay a little extra. In Latin America teams/trainers get a percentage of the prospect bonus, Gayo was essentially getting money on the side for helping these teams/trainers out.
Overall, an International Draft would be good for the game of Baseball. It would give another event for fans to get excited about. The Major League Baseball Draft has grown significantly in popularity over the last decade or so and adding another Draft will lead to even more coverage. Of course, the most important thing is that it will cut down on young teenage players being manipulated and create a safer environment Baseball for International Players.