Tag:international signings
Posted on: December 15, 2011 12:20 pm

How to fix international rules? Form a committee

Almost everyone agrees baseball could use a better system for signing international players.

So what system would be better?

Ah, that's much tougher, and that's why the new basic agreement included a provision for a committee to study possible changes. The commissioner's office and the union announced that committee on Thursday, and said that it will meet for the first time sometime before Jan. 15.

An international draft for amateur players, long a goal of commissioner Bud Selig, is the biggest topic on the table. Currently, only players who attend school in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico) and Canada are subject to a draft; all other players are treated as free agents.

That's why players defecting from Cuba (such as Yoenis Cespedes) establish residency in countries such as the Dominican Republic, rather than in the U.S. Cespedes will get much more money as a free agent who can deal with all 30 teams than he would as a drafted player who can deal with just one.

Baseball can't easily add all international players into the current draft system, because the rules for eligibility are so different. Most international players are eligible to sign once they turn 16, while players covered under the draft become eligible when their high school class graduates, and again after a third year at a four-year college.

The committee will be asked to determine whether there's a way to add international players into the current draft, or whether there should be a separate international draft.

The committee is also expected to look at ways to modify the posting system currently used to add players from the Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese professional leagues. That system, currently being used by star Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, has drawn heavy criticism on all sides.

Also, the committee plans to look at rules for signing Cuban players, and at how baseball develops international players.

General managers Sandy Alderson of the Mets and Andrew Friedman of the Rays will be joined on the committee by Kim Ng of the commissioner's office, and by union representatives Tony Clark, Rick Shapiro and Stan Javier. The committee will be co-chaired by MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred and union executive director Michael Weiner, who worked together to complete the CBA.

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