MLB – Don’t push kids to drop out of school to evade the draft

Major League Baseball has sent a warning to clubs about encouraging players subject to the MLB Draft to withdraw from high school baseball to become eligible to sign as international players. An MLB spokesperson declined to comment.

The main section of the memo sent to teams on Monday and obtained by ESPN read: “We have learned that clubs are encouraging amateur players in the United States to withdraw from or otherwise abstain from high school baseball in the United States.” The United States and/or Canada, in order to attempt to establish residency in a foreign country, in an attempt to make themselves eligible to be signed under the International Amateur Talent System rather than the Rule 4 Draft.”

In the MLB Draft, picks are largely untradeable, so teams’ access to elite players is largely determined by their draft order. In the international system, teams have similarly sized bonus pools, and can be negotiated with any player. Every team in the international market can acquire all but the best players.

In the memo, the league explained the rules regarding eligibility and the rules that teams are violating by encouraging players to change their eligibility. Encouraging players to make this change “would be subject to significant penalties, including, but not limited to, deprivation of player choice rights under the law,” the memo says. [MLB draft] or loss of benefits under the International Amateur Talent System.”

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A recent example of a legal version of this maneuver was provided by outfielder Lucius Fox in 2015. He was a Bahamian native who moved to Florida to play high school baseball and was viewed as a fringe first-round prospect after his junior year. From high school. Fox returned to the Bahamas and was declared a free agent by the league in April 2015, eventually signing for $6 million with the San Francisco Giants in July 2015.

International bonus pools were not as restrictive then as they are now, so this type of bonus is unlikely, but this shows the potential benefit of this type of move. Fox would have received about half that bonus had he stayed in the draft, but he was valued differently as an 18-year-old in the international market, where the biggest bonuses are largely given to 16-year-old prospects. Fox, now 26, is a free agent. He has played in 10 big league games, all in 2022 for the Washington Nationals.

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