The First Year Player Draft will be held June 4-6 this year and it will be the first draft since the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement which made major changes to the process. There are fewer rounds, 40 instead of 50, and the signing deadline has been moved up from August 15 to July 13. Those are just two changes, but the biggest one is probably the oversight of bonuses which attempts to instill more competitive balance among the 30 MLB teams.
Until this year, MLB suggested bonuses for picks in the top five rounds, with an installed maximum for picks thereafter. That model was abused and has now been blown up.
With the new CBA, there are now pools assigned to each club, with the basis being the sum of the assigned values of each club’s picks in the top 10 rounds. This was negotioated by MLB and the MLBPA. Teams are free to spend their pool money however they choose for those top 10 picks. The Twins have the largest pool this year and have $6.2M to spend on their first-round pick, which is the second overall selection. They can give that pick a $5M bonus and use the other $1.2 on other draft picks, if they so choose.
For a full list of each club’s spending allowances, see Baseball America’s breakdown here.
What happens if a club overspends? In the past the answer was, essentially, nothing. With the new agreement, there is a structured tax penalty based on the percent of overspending that includes loss of draft picks once a club goes over by 5%. Any tax money and forfeited picks will be distributed amongst the clubs that played by the rules.
Yankee-proof? Too early to tell. But definitely a step in the right direction, if you think the lower-revenue clubs should have a shot at getting back in the game by building through the draft.