Major League Baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement expires this Thursday, Dec. 1. With the deadline looming, Ken Rosenthal reported last week that a lockout could be imminent if the league and players association fail to reach an agreement before then. One of the issues on the line is a potential international draft, which would artificially depress the value of international amateurs who currently enjoy a free market—albeit one limited by complicated league-wide signing caps.
After several days apart, the two sides resume negotiations today—publicly hopeful that the deadline will still be met. Judging by Jeff Passan’s tweet, the international draft appears to have a big spot on the agenda:
A handful of Latin American players have spoken out—generally on Instagram—in opposition to the draft, but a demonstration at the collective bargaining negotiations could mean the current members of the MLBPA are ready to defend the interests of amateurs. Since the players’ union only includes members of the 40-man roster, potential draftees—international and those within the U.S.—go unrepresented at these meetings. Historically, representatives from the MLBPA have been willing to sacrifice the interests of amateurs in order to strike a better deal for active members of the union. This lack of representation is how sports leagues end up with archaic, immoral drafts in the first place.
The targeted, Twitter-publicized display of unification against the international draft seems to signal that the issue is one of serious priority to the players, and could even be a sign that the union is finally starting to care about the interests of amateur players. Or, it could just be a negotiation tactic.
It’s entirely possible the MLBPA is claiming particular attachment to the international draft issue now just so they can cave on it later this week in order to get the owners to eliminate the qualifying offer system in free agency. That said, the league already seems willing to amend that feature of free agency, so perhaps the players are establishing leverage now for an even bigger demand coming soon.