Winners and Losers of the COVID-19-Related MLB/MLBPA Deal

Last night, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association hammered out a deal covering many issues that were caused by COVID-19. This includes what would happen in the event of a season cancellation and the MLB Draft. But even though both sides agreed on the issues, that doesn’t mean that everyone in baseball will benefit from this deal. Let’s take a look at who will benefit the most from this deal, and who won’t.

Winners of MLB/MLBPA Deal


The MLBPA clearly would not have entered any agreement that didn’t benefit them in any way. In this agreement, the players do get something that was much talked about: service time in the event of a canceled season. This is a big deal, especially for the players that are eligible to become free agents at the end of the 2020 season. Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman, J.T. Realmuto, and George Springer are all eligible to become free agents after 2020 and don’t forget about Mookie Betts. The former AL MVP could conceivably enter free agency without playing a game for the Dodgers, but that scenario is unlikely for the moment.


Owners and Teams

There’s a lot here for the owners and teams to like out of this deal. First off, owners did receive some protection concerning player payouts. Teams will advance USD 170M of payments to players over the first 60 days of the originally scheduled season, but should the year ultimately end without any games, teams are not obligated to pay out the remainder of the salaries owed to players this season. With no revenue coming in right now, the owners wanted this type of protection, and even though teams had to trade this off with the service time provision, this is a victory for the owners.

Second, teams also receive the right to shorten the 2020 MLB Draft. According to the deal, MLB teams can have as little as five rounds this year, with the potential to add more rounds. In addition, the teams can also cut the number of rounds in next year’s draft in half to 20. By doing this, teams can now put into motion the plan to chop off over 40 minor league teams in 2021.


College Teams

Lastly, it’s important to note that college teams win out here as well. By shortening the 2020 MLB Draft, college teams could see many impactful juniors and seniors return for one more season. Additionally, many high schoolers who were planning to forego college and head straight to the pros now may change course. Not only should these next few years be very interesting in the college baseball scene, but it’s now very likely the 2023 MLB Draft may be a stacked affair.

Losers of MLB/MLBPA Deal


High School and College Players

Even though the college teams benefit here, some of the players won’t. Sure, the top high school and college talent (Austin Martin, Spencer Torkelson and Jared Kelley for example) will be selected, but others who were potential Day 2 picks in the 2020 MLB Draft now have to face the prospects of going undrafted. Of course, college players who aren’t selected could opt to go pro, but the maximum signing bonus for undrafted players will be capped at USD 20,000. Considering that players who could have been selected in Round 6-10 could have received six-figure bonuses, that’s a significant amount of money lost. And with more players eligible in 2021, as well as the prospect of yet another shortened draft in 2021, it’s a tough pill to swallow.

And the same could be said for high schoolers who also won’t be selected. They, too, face a tough decision. Should they fulfill their college commitments, or should they go to a junior college where they would become immediately eligible for the 2021 MLB Draft? A lot of questions will need to be answered between now and next year.

Contracted Minor League Teams

I mentioned previously that this agreement puts into motion the plan to contract over 40 minor league teams. I don’t think I need to explain why they are losers in this agreement, as the chances of those teams sticking it out past 2020 look slimmer and slimmer by the day. It’s going to be really painful, not just for the staff of those teams but for the fans as well. And it’s also important to note how many players won’t receive a chance to go pro. No matter how you look at this, these minor leagues teams take a huge hit under this plan.

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