Kiley McDaniel from ESPN reports the Major League Baseball is moving the 2021 amateur draft to the All-Star weekend in Atlanta, to be held July 11-13. ESPN received a memo that was sent to all 30 clubs on Monday announcing the moves.
The draft is usually held during the second week in June, so it’s being pushed back about five weeks from the normal time. It will take place after the College World Series is over, allowing baseball to feature more of the players at the draft. It will also allow them to run showcases for the players, to get more scouting information. With the later draft, that means that teams won’t be running short-season leagues above the GCL level.
Two big notes about the draft include the length and order. The 2021 draft was set with a minimum of 20 rounds already before this was announced. That was worked out at the same time as the 2020 draft rules this year. However, MLB noted that it will be no longer than 30 rounds, so it will be at least ten rounds shorter than it has been since they put in the bonus pool system and dropped from 50 rounds to 40. Since teams won’t have as many short-season clubs, there will be fewer roster spots for draft picks, so the shorter draft makes sense.
The draft order news is that there is still no news. That’s significant for the Pirates, who aren’t guaranteed right now to get the top overall spot if they finish in last place this year. With a 10-22 record, they are currently the worst team in baseball, though a few teams are within striking distance.
Other items of note include:
An August 1st deadline to sign. That’s only 18-20 days to get players signed. No reason that can’t be done, but it’s a shorter time.
Non-drafted free agents will be capped at $20,000 bonuses. That rule came into place this year and it was more meaningful when they only had five rounds. Going to 20-30 rounds, it’s not an issue. Very few NDFA players get more than $2,000 under normal circumstances from any team. Very few late round picks get big bonuses too. It just means that someone like Deion Walker, who the Pirates signed for $200,000 last year in the 35th round, will need to be taken a few rounds earlier,
Teams will also be able to defer bonuses, paying players up to $100,000 in 2021 and then splitting the remaining amount over the next two years. As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, that’s not much different than what was done before. No one getting a large bonus was handed a check for the full amount when they signed. They were paid off in installments over time. What this does is just limit what they initially get in their first year.