I keep an eye on prospects, both in the organization and potential signees/draftees. I'm not brilliant, and I'm not the best, but I enjoy it.
So I've been keeping an eye on the situation in the Dominican, as Sandy Alderson tries to fix a corrupt and exploitative situation. This post is inspired by Nick Collias' fine reporting over at MLBTradeRumors (my Spanish is tolerable, but Collias does a great job wading through multiple newspaper articles).
At Yahoo, Jeff Passan sums up the situation as it is:
Baseball in the Dominican Republic is a wasteland of crime and drugs. Big money turned one of the game’s richest and proudest cultures into a festering pond of sleaze. For years, hustlers and pimps have taken advantage of impoverished and undereducated children while Major League Baseball allowed the entire racket to continue. Corruption metastasized. No one tried to stop it.
What we don't hear about is the damage to players who don't get signed; the scouts may identify and draft only players who seem clean, but we don't know how many near-prospects are living with bone and ligament damage, cancer and emotional side effects.
This is a situation in dire need of a solution. While it is the athlete who is ultimately responsible for the care of his or her body, I believe MLB has a responsibility to create an environment of responsibility. Furthermore, cleaning up the lowest levels of the game should have a corresponding effect as prospects become minor leaguers become major leaguers.
But is a draft the best way to achieve this situation or is it merely the best route for the MLB owners?
Athletes are entertainers who have a very short window of profitable productivity, and I'm of the belief that everyone should make the most money they possibly can for services rendered. I hate that NCAA stars never see a nickle of billions they rake in for their schools. I'm opposed to draft salary slotting in all forms.
For the top players, I doubt it would make a difference. Aroldis Chapman got a 6 year, $30M contract from the Reds as an IFA. Stephen Stasburg received a 4 year, $15M contract from the Nationals as the #1 draft pick. Both players are performing well, in AAA and AA respectively. I think Stasburg has the better contract, because he can be an unrestricted free agent sooner, but Chapman got the guaranteed money.
What I'm searching for is information about average bonus paid to international free agents. Anyone who can point me in the right direction should email me at jscape2000 [at sign] hotmail [dot] com.
I suspect that a draft will help ownership without curing the age fraud and juicing issues more effectively than a more rigorous testing system for signing hopefuls.