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Draft signing frenzy set to start

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  August 15, 2011 01:32 PM

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There are ongoing talks between MLB and the MLBPA on a new collective bargaining agreement. Unlike the NFL and NBA, a deal is expected to be struck without much, if any, rancor.

Most everybody in baseball is hoping part of the agreement will restructure the draft. Thanks to days like today.

The draft was held back in June. Today is the deadline for picks to sign. At 11:55 p.m. or so, dozens of players will officially become professionals.

In the case of the Red Sox, 12 of their top 22 picks have yet to sign. In virtually every instance, the Red Sox drafted these players knowing what it would take to sign them. Most of those players have agreed on the parameters of a deal.

But the deals cannot be completed because the Red Sox are willing to commit to signing bonuses well above what MLB recommends. MLB can't prohibit these contracts, but they can hold them up until today.

MLB believes that if the Red Sox signed a player over slot, that will encourage other teams to do the same. It's a vain attempt to control costs.

Large market teams use the draft to their advantage by exploiting the lack of strict salary slotting. As an example, the Red Sox took a high school outfielder from Mississippi named Senquez Golson in the 8th round. He's a terrific athlete who signed to play football and baseball at Ole Miss.

If the issue were strictly talent, Golson might have been a second round pick. But because of his college commitment, teams were scared off knowing he would cost a lot. The Red Sox waited, selected him later in the draft, and likely will make him a wealthy young man today.

Golson skipped football practice and arrived in Boston today. It wasn't to see the Freedom Trail.

MLB needs to follow the example of the NFL and NBA and have a slotted system for draft picks. The No. 1 pick gets X, the No. 2 pick gets a little less than X and so on. That way kids can sign on June 15, not Aug. 15, and get their careers started instead of spending their summers at the beach so Bud Selig can punish teams willing to invest in player development.

Or have a draft salary cap. Teams can spend X and divide it however they want among however many players they want.

Virtually any system is better than what they have now.

By the time today is over, look for the Sox to have most of their players signed. There may be a few kids who go back to school, there always are. But in the end, only a small percentage of these players will be significant major leaguers anyway.

As the news trickles in, we'll have updates here.

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