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Why can't major league teams trade their draft picks?


Frobby

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So the rich teams can't (essentially) buy picks from the bad/poor teams and destroy any semblance of competitive balance.

I'm sure that's part of the justification MLB uses. I don't think it has any merit, though. There are plenty of existing ways for teams to sell themselves to the devil, I mean Yankees, without draft pick trades.

I think trading or selling picks would greatly benefit small market teams. They could get fair value for a #1 pick they couldn't afford. They could trade high risk/high reward picks for players who might not have as high a ceiling, but who were major league-ready A team could rebuild by trading picks who might become good players in 2012 for young players who are good right now. Or a team like the Orioles could trade Tejada, Bedard, and Roberts for 20 draft picks spread over several years, and completely restock the farm with players of their own choosing.

All the current rule does is force teams into one method of building an organization that may or may not be the optimal course for them. It removes a valuable asset from the options a struggling team has at its disposal.

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The ban on draft pick trades hasn't worked out quite the way it was planned. But if you look at why the draft was instituted in the first place it's clear that competitive balance was what they were trying to achieve. When amateurs were free agents, teams like the Yankees dominated by signing all of the best talent. And when they did have a hole, they went to a team like the KC A's and traded for one of their players, like Maris or Clete Boyer.

So the answer is basically what BTerp said although it also works the other way around. In addition to not wanting rich teams to buy picks with players, they didn't want them to buy players with picks. The thought was, the Yankees could trade some number of picks to the A's for a player who had proven to be successful in the big leagues over two or three seasons. The draft pick could then get big league experience with the A's for a few years and the whole process would repeat.

I agree with Drungo, though, that trading picks might not be such a bad idea. The game has changed so much since 1965 that the whole system seems outdated.

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The ban on draft pick trades hasn't worked out quite the way it was planned. But if you look at why the draft was instituted in the first place it's clear that competitive balance was what they were trying to achieve. When amateurs were free agents, teams like the Yankees dominated by signing all of the best talent. And when they did have a hole, they went to a team like the KC A's and traded for one of their players, like Maris or Clete Boyer.

That's what the owners wanted you to believe. I'm not saying the Yanks didn't buy up a lot of amateur talent, because they did. But just as North Carolina and Duke don't get all the best basketball recruits in a free-for-all system, the Yanks didn't get all the best amateur talent. Their dominance hasn't been restrained much at all by the presence of the draft. They won most of the time pre-1964, and they've won most of the time since.

The real reason for the draft was to limit the money teams were paying to amateurs. That was reasons #1-15. #16 was competitive balance. The owners were tired of shelling out $100k or more for high school kids, so they did what they always do: they invoked a little monopolistic forearm shiver to the amateur talent pool.

For about a decade, from 1964-1975, the owners were sitting fat and happy. For the only time in baseball history no team ever had to pay a single player the going market rate for their services.

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