Draft slotting may be next labor issue for baseball

  • Updated: July 15, 2014 - 9:40 PM

Bud Selig:Will be retiring after this season, his 22nd as commissioner of baseball.

Union reveals dissatisfaction with the constraints

The Twins are among the teams that have benefited most from the slotting system Major League Baseball adopted in 2012 to streamline the process of signing draft picks.

After failing to sign Travis Lee, Mark Prior and other lower-round picks over the years, the Twins have had less trouble reeling talent into their system recently.

But after agreeing to the slotting system as part of the last collective bargaining agreement, the players’ union could turn that into a serious point of contention in the next round of talks.

The current CBA expires in 2016. Commissioner Bud Selig and union chief Tony Clark met separately with the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday, and Clark made some of his sharpest comments about the slotting system.

“Our hope coming out of bargaining with respect to the draft and the slotting system — particularly how it was preached to us — was that the teams that needed the best talent would be in position to secure that best talent,” Clark said.

The union has been particularly miffed with the Houston Astros, who recently lowered their offer to No. 1 overall draft pick Brady Aiken after raising concerns about his elbow. Because teams face penalties for spending more than their assigned bonus pool, the Aiken negotiations are affecting what the Astros are offering fifth-round pick Jacob Nix.

“It is disappointing on a number of levels,” Clark said. “You can rest assured that the manipulation that we think happened in this case is going to lead us have some conversations that are going to make sure that players receive the support that they deserve.”

Long games concern Selig

As Selig nears the completion of his 22-year run as commissioner, the average time of a game has risen to 3 hours, 2 minutes — up 15 minutes from 2004.

“We are working on it,” Selig said. “It certainly isn’t getting any worse, but it needs to get better.”

Selig noted that there are some teams that “consistently play under three hours. We’ve identified the teams that aren’t, and Joe [Garagiola Jr.] has been talking to them.”

“I do think there are some rules that really need to be enforced,” Selig added. “I know that players have habits, and those habits are tough to break, but Henry Aaron reminded me [Monday] that in 20-some years, once he got in the batter box, he never got out. That was it.”

Lukewarm on new Derby format

Monday’s Home Run Derby took nearly three hours, and that came after a one-hour rain delay. Selig seemed to agree that it was a rather humdrum event, even though Yoenis Cespedes had a strong finish to win for the second straight year.

“Unfortunately, rain delays in any situation, pardon the pun, dampen things in every way,” he said.

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