Baseball Rules for Shortened 2020 Season Include Limiting June Draft to 5 Rounds

Yankee 2B DJ LeMahieu is among potential free agents in the fall

TheCowboy

A plan to address concerns about the impact on future seasons because of the stoppage created by the coronavirus pandemic will not only reduce the 2020 first-year player draft to five rounds, but will limit signing bonuses for players not taken in the first five rounds to $20,000, a source close to the negotiations told InsideTheSeams.com.

The signing limit is designed to ensure teams do not face pressures to shell out sizable bonuses to undrafted players, which in turn would also drive up the price for signing players selected in the five rounds.

Clubs are looking at ways to limit expenditures on the draft to help offset what they expect to be major cash shortfalls for the 2020 season because of the expected financial impact created by the coronavirus pandemic, which is expected to delay start of the season until My 10 or later.

The owners also will have the right to limit the 2021 draft to 20 rounds, which has been a key point from ownership's side in negotiations.

It is the continuation of an ongoing effort by management to reduce the size of the first-year player draft, which has been in place since 1965. Originally teams could draft an unlimited number of players. In 1998 teams were limited to 50 selections, and that was reduced to 40 draft picks in 2012.

The current Basic Agreement expires after the 2021 season, which is why the agreement does not impact the draft beyond 2021.

From the players standpoint, players will be credited with full-season service time for 2020 regardless of the length of the season, and even if it is cancelled. That will have an immediate impact potential free agents for the fall, which includes the likes of Jackie Bradley, Jr., Mookie Betts, DJ LeMahieu, Andrelton Simmons, J.T. Realmuto and Trevor Bauer.

In addition to the service time issue, because the season will clearly be shorter, the arbitration rules will be adjusted so players are not penalized in a hearing for stats that don’t stack up to totals from 162-game seasons.

The Players Association has already approved the agreement with the owners expected to vote on the matter Friday, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.com. With the start of the 2020 season in limbo, the players and owners have focused on reaching agreements to deal with potential issues that could be created by delayed start to the season.

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