MLB draft to be smaller

Deesha Thosar New York Daily News (TNS)

There remains a chance that baseball will not be played in 2020 as Major League Baseball and the Players' Association continue to lumber through labor strife without haste. While the absence of the sport during these uncertain times is daunting, it's time to look forward and direct our attention to the next generation of athletes striving to become the game's biggest stars.

The 2020 MLB Draft - though it will look and feel different than previous versions - gives us that opportunity. Here's an outline of what you need to know.

This year's draft will take place virtually - on June 10 and 11 - and air on ESPN2 and MLB Network. Wednesday (beginning at 7 p.m.) will feature the first 37 picks and then the remaining picks will come Friday (5 p.m. start).

The format will be shorter than previous years, with rounds trimmed from 40 to five. Despite objection from front-office officials, MLB owners reportedly pushed for fewer rounds to save costs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Not only does this assert that the league's financial position is grimmer than the players' union is ready to believe, but it impacts the future of the sport in a major way.

Each team will receive an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of its selections in the draft. The more picks a club has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. This year all signing bonuses of drafted players will apply toward the bonus pool total, with a $20,000 limit on bonuses for non-drafted free agents. Teams do not have a limit on the number of undrafted players they can sign.

Eliminating the sixth through 10th rounds will save teams a combined $29,578,100 in slot value - less than $1 million per team and less than $500,000 in actual cash with the new signing-bonus rules, according to ESPN.

MLB teams will draft a total of 160 players instead of the usual 1,200. Many of the biggest stars in the game, including Hall of Famers, were picked in the sixth round or later (Jacob deGrom was drafted by the Mets in the ninth round of the 2010 Draft).

Of the 1,410 players who played at least one major-league game in 2019, 1,046 entered the league through the draft and 483 of those, or 46 percent, were taken in the sixth round or later, according to The Athletic. As a result, club farm systems will also shrink.