Last Wednesday Rob Neyer of EPSN linked to my article regarding trading draft picks in Major League Baseball. What followed were a couple spirited arguments against the idea, which I would like to take the time to rebuttal.
The first argument was that with such a large draft board, it would be impossible for teams to track all of the players they want if teams around them were making trades. This is true to a certain extent, and I believe it would be prudent to limit trades to the first five rounds. First of all, GM’s have better things to do with their time than swap a couple of 40th round picks. However, it is not too much to ask for the first five rounds, as the NHL and NFL both have trades this late in the draft. It would help add the flair that the draft lacks while not bogging it down with tons of trades.
Another person argued that the draft should be done away with altogether, and all amateur players should be treated as free agents like they are in South America. I am against this 100%. As much as the draft does have problems, it helps bring a competitive balance to the game. If it was not for the draft, the Nationals would never in a million years have the opportunity to bring a player of Strasburg’s calibre into their franchise. The perfect example of how the draft can turn around a franchise is the Tampa Bay Rays. Without the draft, the Rays never would have had the opportunity to have players like Carl Crawford, Delmon Young (who they turned into Matt Garza), Evan Longoria, and David Price, who were all instrumental in last year’s success, and important parts of the team’s future.
My final comment on the issue is economical in nature. Giving teams the ability to trade draft picks would create a true free market, which is where assets are utilized to their full potential. Draft picks can be considered commodities or natural resources, and teams are being forced to use them, even if they are not being used optimally. Imagine a world where the Canadian Prairies were forced to hold onto all of their agricultural resources, or Japan was not allowed to import oil. Does not make sense does it? Teams are being forced to refine these natural resources into finished products before they can trade them, and this is just not the way the world operates.