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World-wide draft not coming soon
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05/20/2003  9:45 PM ET 
World-wide draft not coming soon
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The concept of a world-wide draft -- proposed last summer during Collective Bargaining between Major League Baseball and the players association -- is a long way from becoming reality.

Both parties like the basic premise -- to extend the annual June First-Year Player Draft to include all players first entering Major League Baseball or the minor leagues, regardless of their country of residence.

But time ran out in last year's negotiations to craft the details. And at the first meeting of the joint union-management committee several weeks ago, the sides disagreed on how many rounds the draft should entail.

The sides have agreed in principle that "the draft would be not less than 20 and no more than 38 rounds." MLB wants the lowest possible number of rounds and the union is negotiating for the higher number. Rob Manfred, MLB's vice president of labor relations and human resources, said that the first meeting was positive, but the parties came to no agreement on the myriad of details that must be determined.

"We remain hopeful that an acceptable agreement on the world-wide draft can be reached," he said.

Greg Bouris, a spokesman for the union, also said the meeting was an important first step.

"We had a meeting a couple of weeks ago in Chicago that was very positive," he said.

The sides are hoping to schedule another meeting by the end of the month, although there is no timetable at this point for establishing the world-wide draft. The sides need to determine whether it possible to implement the draft in time for June of next season.

In addition to trying to determine how many rounds the draft should be, there are other issues that must be resolved in order to extend the draft to baseball players who live around the world:

  • A determination of the appropriate eligibility age for players living in countries that do not have organized high school baseball and a structure for developing baseball players in those countries.

  • The benefits to be provided to all players signed after their selection in the draft.

  • The procedures that will govern how players can opt in and opt out of the world-wide draft.

  • The "disproportionate allocation of selection rights designed to improve competitive balance."

  • The assignability of selection rights, negotiation rights and the contracts of players selected in the draft.

  • The compensation given to a team that can't sign a player selected in the draft.

  • Special draft rules for players from countries (like Cuba) in which U.S. residents are restricted or prohibited from doing business.

  • How MLB intends to deal with the protocol of other professional baseball leagues around the world.

    If the sides can't agree on how to define and implement all these procedures, the draft will remain in its current form for the remainder of the Basic Agreement, which extends through Dec. 19, 2006.

    Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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