This Thursday at 7pm, the MLB Network will be televising the 2016 draft, in which the Red Sox currently have two picks the first night (the 12th overall pick in the first round and the 51st pick overall in the second round). This has great potential to be a historic draft.
For the Red Sox, this is the first draft for Dave Dombrowski as the President of Baseball Operations. Since taking over in August of 2015, Dombrowski has actually made very few internal scouting related changes that would affect how this team drafts. The current scouting department has had tremendous success building one of the best farm systems in baseball, so it is not surprising. How involved he gets moving forward remains to be seen.
As for players available, most front offices are probably going to approach this draft by going after organizational needs rather than merely going for the best player available. The top 7-8 players are considered difference makers, but none on the superstar levels of the Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg level we had just 5-6 years ago. That’s not to say this is a bad draft class, it just looks to be more of draft class like last year. Lots of good solid players available but none that look like definite superstars out of the gate.
What will make this draft truly historic is that this is the last draft under the current collective bargaining agreement. The baseball draft as we have known it will change. Under the current agreement, MLB assigns a monetary value to every pick in the top 10 rounds of the 40-round draft. This year, that value ranges from about $9 million for the first overall pick, owned by the Philadelphia Phillies, to about $1.8 million for the St. Louis Cardinals with the last pick of the first round, to $156 thousand for the Cardinals’ 10th-round pick. The total spent on the first 10 rounds equals a team’s bonus pool. As it currently is in place, if a team spend more than their pool, they pay a tax on any overage, or if they spend too much more they can even forfeit a future top pick. This system will probably be changing after this fifth of it being in place for this draft.
Currently the draft only involves US amateur players. There are many rumors and pundits calling for this to change. An international draft is coming at some point down the line. Everyone in baseball has said it will happen, including commissioner Rob Manfred, to what degree is the only question. This could be the last truly US only draft if everyone is able to work out an agreement that works for both the current players association and the many of the non-US baseball federations and countries they represent. If all sides are able to pull this all together then after this year it will become that much harder to corner both the US based draft and the international market at the same time because all the players will be in the same player pool. No more signings of Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi in the same year.
Another expected change to occur after this year is the whole compensation pick system. Currently, after the first round and the second rounds teams can get compensation for impactful free agents that were signed by other teams. These compensation picks have greatly influenced the trading deadline and the offseason free agent signability of many players. Don’t expect it to remain the same for any future draft. A change will be made to this system.
Lastly this could be the last draft where you don’t see draft pick trading in baseball. Yes, that would be a game changer. Currently, a good draft can change an organization’s future with the talent it produces or with the trade chips it provides. Giving a GM the ability to trade draft picks gives a whole other layer to what is a good draft. Imagine a Herschel Walker NFL type of deal going down in baseball. If it happens, life as we currently know it in the MLB draft will change.