Major league draft still set for June, but it's been scaled back to 5 rounds
During an appearance on CNN Thursday night, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred was optimistic owners and players will be able to reach an agreement and get the game back up and running in July.
If a deal can't be reached due to health and safety and/or financial issues, Manfred said a complete shutdown would be "devastating" and MLB will lose close to $4 billion.
Even with an 82-game abbreviated season and expanded playoffs, baseball would return with no fans in the stands for an indefinite period and still take a major financial hit.
"Playing in empty stadiums is not a great deal for us economically, but our owners are committed to doing that because they feel it's important that the game be back on the field, and that the game be a sign of a beginning to return to normalcy to American life the way we've always enjoyed it," Manfred said. "We're a big business, but we're a seasonal business, and unfortunately, this crisis began at kind of the low point in terms of us for revenue."
The Reds and Marlins are two teams that are planning staff layoffs and pay cuts beginning June 1, and many more are sure to follow.
Scaling back on the upcoming draft is going to net major league teams more savings.
Instead of the usual 40 rounds, this year's draft has been reduced to five. The first round, along with seven competitive balance picks, will be held June 10 and be televised on MLB Network.
The final four rounds are scheduled for June 11.
The White Sox, who were 72-89 last season, have the No. 11 overall draft pick. The Cubs (84-78 in 2019) have the No. 16 pick.
Here are some other draft changes causes by the coronavirus pandemic:
• Top draft picks are still going to get multimillion dollar signing bonuses, but teams only have to pay players a maximum $100,000 within 30 days after there is an agreement.
Fifty percent of the remaining bonus is due July 1, 2021, and the leftover balance is due July 1, 2022.
• After the five rounds are completed, major league teams will be allowed to sign an unlimited number of eligible players for up to $20,000.
In an attempt to eliminate special enticements, teams are not allowed to talk to undrafted players until June 14.
• The low $20,000 signing bonus for undrafted talent is expected to send many top high school players to college, where they will be draft eligible again after their junior season.
Finding a school to play for could be problematic.
In late March, the NCAA Division I Council granted another year of eligibility for college players who had this season cut short by COVID-19.
Collegiate rosters are going to filled with returning players next season, so landing scholarships is going to be tougher than normal for high school seniors that graduated this year.
• Instead of the usual July 10 deadline to sign draft picks, major league teams can wait until Aug. 1.
The extra time will be needed to conduct physicals, whether players have them in their draft city or closer to home.