Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked in a SiriusXM MLB Network Radio interview last month about preparing for the 2020 MLB Draft while waiting to see exactly how it would go down this time around in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Parameters were discussed when Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association (MLBPA) worked out a deal in March, following the shutdown of Spring Training and the postponement of the start of the regular season, but things were left undecided as far as an official date, the length of this year’s draft, and how signing bonuses would be handled.
“We were very fortunate we attacked the Spring very, very early, which we do every year,” Rizzo told hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette when asked about his club’s preparation, and how the shutdown was affecting their approach.
In his first 2020 mock #MLBDraft, @JonathanMayo has the #Nats picking Cole Wilcox, (RHP, Georgia) a second time after they selected him in the 37th Round (1,121st pick overall) in 2018 but (obviously) didn’t sign him. Would be 22nd pick of 1st Round this time if they did... https://t.co/7swIJhtups— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) April 28, 2020
“[Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Ops] Kris Kline and his group of guys were out and about early. We’ve got a really good feel for the upper portion of our preferential list going into the Spring.”
“We’re just waiting for some direction on what the draft is going to look like and when it’s going to be,” he added.
“In the meantime, we’re certainly putting our ducks in a row as far as communication with our scouting staff.”
Rizzo and Co. in the Nats’ front office now likely have a better idea of what the 2020 draft is going to look like.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported last night that it’s going to be a five round draft (the smallest number of rounds in history) beginning on June 10th, with players eligible for the draft who are not selected in the first five rounds free to sign with any team, though only for a $20,000 signing bonus.
Players who are drafted in the first five rounds will receive bonuses equivalent to those from 2019’s Draft.
Teams can sign an unlimited amount of players after the fifth round is completed, which is going to be ... interesting.
The previous agreement between MLB and the MLBPA, “... stipulated the draft could be held at any length between five and 40 rounds,” but, the Athletic writers noted, “the expectation was it would not hold a draft longer than 10 rounds.”
The commissioner’s office made a proposal to the union, as previously reported by The Athletic, that would have solidified a 10-round draft, but it came with other trade-offs the Players Association determined were too restrictive, including slot amounts in rounds 6-10 at half their 2019 values and a limit of five undrafted players who could sign for $20,000. The union rejected the proposal.”
So instead, based on the Athletic’s reporting, it will be a five-round draft, which will leave all the players not selected in those rounds free to work out deals with any MLB they want, but only for $20K.
Rizzo said last month that the work the Nationals’ scouts did before much of the country shut down would be extremely important when it came to signing players who were not drafted in the top five rounds.
“I think the organizations with the larger, more experienced scouting staffs who have been out earlier in the Spring seasons, that rely on really good, veteran area scouts to cultivate those particular areas, I think they’ll have the upper hand as far as who to approach first,” Rizzo said.
“And as you two guys both know, [those scouts are] the backbone of any draft, because they’re the ones that are in the families’ living rooms and their kitchens talking to the parents and have a relationship with them, and I think the teams that have those types of scoutings staffs, both in experience and in depth, will have the upper hand because they have been in the kitchens, and they’ll have already a built-in trust factor with those particular players.”
The Nationals’ top pick in this year’s draft is the 22nd overall selection in the first round.