Rule changes, talent concerns mark baseball draft

By Dennis Waszak Jr.

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, June 3 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Teams face a punitive tax and the possibility of losing draft picks if they stray from the prescribed bonuses.

If a player doesn't sign, the team loses the amount for that slot. And if a player signs for less than the slot, the team could shift that money to other picks. For players selected in the 11th round and beyond, portions of signing bonuses above $100,000 would count against the bonus pool.

"I think it's interesting in the sense that it has some protections from the previous system that was much more easily manipulated," said Bobby Evans, San Francisco's vice president of baseball operations. "There's certainly some elements set up that will guard against manipulating a given player's slot and where he's taken in the draft."

Teams will now have until mid-July to sign their draft picks, instead of the previous mid-August deadline. That could affect clubs' approaches in targeting players who have a greater chance of signing. But it also could sway high school players, who might choose to go to college instead. And because multimillion-dollar signing bonuses will no longer be available in lower rounds, more college juniors might opt to stay in school.

"I think it does have potentially some effects on high school players maybe being harder to sign them unless they're taken really high," Evans said. "Because of the slotting dollars, as they fall lower and lower, it will be harder to sign them at some of those smaller slots. This could potentially be very beneficial to the colleges, but it could hurt some of the young high school talents' chances of signing."

Major league teams have been preparing for months to operate with the changes, which Luhnow anticipates are here to stay.

"I think we're going to all learn how to operate under this current environment and there will be some differences in terms of how clubs approach it," Luhnow said, "but this is the CBA, this is how it's going to be for the ongoing future. So we're ready for it."

The first and supplemental rounds are held Monday night at MLB Network Studios in Secaucus, N.J., with the remaining rounds completed via conference calls among the teams over the next two days.

AP Sports Writers Tim Booth in Seattle, Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis, Janie McCauley in San Francisco and Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this report.

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