Reports: MLB, NFL having discussions about postponing, modifying drafts
Both the National Football League and Major League Baseball are having internal talks about whether or not to postpone and/or modify their drafts due to the coronavirus, according to multiple reports.
ESPN’s Dianna Russini and Adam Schefter report that the NFL’s general manager subcommittee had a unanimous vote to push back the April 23-25 NFL Draft date, only for the league to currently reject that and plan to proceed as planned.
Per that report, the general managers are worried about the amount of work they won’t be able to get done on player evaluation because of facilities closing, on top of some teams likely getting the draft done from home if it were to continue.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark note that MLB is having discussions with its players association on the same line of thinking, with Rosenthal specifically referring to “cancel or modify” the June 10-12 draft.
Both leagues, of course, are being mindful of the larger than usual spotlight their events would have given the postponement of sports across the United States.
As Rosenthal notes, that can be especially tempting for MLB because of how much attention the MLB Draft usually does not attain from the general sports audience.
Baseball as well has to deal with the problem of some of their scouting time being cut down after the College World Series was canceled. The same could be said for the NBA, who didn’t have March Madness and teams were forced to pull their international scouts off the road.
Rosenthal extends on how the draft could be modified, which touches on how teams could spend less money given the financial losses of a postponed season.
An abbreviated draft, consisting of perhaps two to three rounds, would require a negotiation to reconstruct draft pools and deal with undrafted players. Signing fewer players would reduce the amounts paid out in bonuses. The parties also could agree to defer bonuses for both domestic and international amateurs, providing the clubs with short-term relief.
The players association likely would be open to such adjustments, but less inclined to embrace another idea the owners have discussed — canceling the draft in 2020 and staging a combined draft for the ’20 and ’21 classes in 2021. Such a move would create myriad issues, and of perhaps greatest concern to the union, likely impact the free-agent market next offseason.