The Los Angeles Angels are set to make one of their highest amateur selections in 20 years, if MLB isn’t forced to cancel the 2020 draft.
As if the logistics of planning for a baseball season amid a global health crisis wasn’t complicated enough, Major League Baseball needs to figure out what to do about the upcoming amateur draft. The Associated Press reports MLB could skip the draft, which is currently scheduled for June 10.
There are a variety of factors for the Commissioner’s Office and Players Association to consider while negotiating whether or not to move forward with the draft in a few months. Scouts have been grounded, amateur leagues postponed or canceled, and public health officials warn the impact of the coronavirus could extend deep into summer. On top of that, the economy is in a fragile state, likely spiraling into recession, leaving owners looking for cash flow, as they donate funds to help impacted stadium workers, and negotiate how players will be paid during the break, both in the major and minor leagues. Canceling the upcoming draft and international signing period could save teams $400 million in estimated bonus payments.
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The Halos hold the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft, tied for their second highest first round pick in twenty years—they selected super-prospect Jo Adell tenth overall in 2017.
If MLB decides to cancel the draft, it is unclear how they would proceed with the 2020 draft class. One possibility that has been reported is they could combine the ’20 and ’21 classes into one draft class in 2021. Although, there are many consequences of this approach. How would it impact eligibility among high-school and college players? How would the draft order be decided?
Perhaps the only reward from a mediocre 72-90 finish is receiving a higher draft pick, such as the Angels were awarded in 2020. With the signing of Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani ready to return to the mound, the Halos are expected to improve this season, especially over a shorter season. Would MLB use the combined record of teams over two seasons in deciding the draft order for 2021? Could this push the Angels lower on the draft board?
Of course, a possible deeper prospect pool from combining two draft classes could relatively improve each draft position—for example, the Angels could find the same player available with the 15th pick as they would have with the 10th pick the previous year.
Either way, what was certain to be a premier draft position for the Angels in 2020 could suddenly become uncertain if MLB is forced to cancel the draft.
As the novel coronavirus puts a stranglehold on everyday life, Major League Baseball, like every business, is forced to confront realities that seemed impossible to imagine a few weeks ago. The season is already on hold. What will happen to the draft?