Major League Baseball has taken another step toward its goal of implementing an international draft.
MLB and the MLB Players' Association today announced they have formed an International Talent Committee to review the way international players are signed and developed. The formation of the committee was in accordance with the new collective bargaining agreement.
MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner and MLB executive vice president of labor relations and human resources Rob Manfred are the committee's co-chairs. MLB vice president Kim Ng, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson (who had previously been in charge of MLB's efforts to reform its operations in Latin America) and Rays GM Andrew Friedman will be on the committee, as will MLBPA director of player relations Tony Clark, MLBPA senior advisor Rick Shapiro and MLBPA special assistant Stan Javier.
The committee does not include any international scouting directors, nor does it have any trainers or agents who represent international amateur players.
The committee will meet twice a month, starting on or before Jan. 15. Among the committee's stated goals:
• Whether international players should be included in the current June draft, or whether they should be a part of a separate draft. If there are multiple drafts, the committee will discuss whether Puerto Rico would remain a part of the current draft system or be included in the separate international draft.
• Determining the necessary steps to include players from Japan, Taiwan and Korea in a draft, and the changes that would have to be negotiated with the professional leagues in each country to make that happen.
• Possibly raising the signing age of international amateur players, who currently can sign every year beginning July 2 after they turn 16.
• If and how agents and trainers in the international market can be regulated.
• How to better handle Cuban defectors, given the political and legal issues surrounding their situations. There has been a wave of Cuban players defecting to other Latin American countries recently, and MLB has struggled with how to handle their statuses.
• Discussion of the optimal plan for each country on how to handle development opportunities for amateurs. The league will also discuss the possibility of a new league or leagues, or the addition of centrally-operated Dominican Summer League clubs, to aid in the development of unsigned players, including those age 18-21, to provide them with more developmental opportunities. Once players turn 18 in Latin America, it's often difficult for them to sign for a big bonus, which is in part why many commit age and identity fraud.
• Figuring out what "safeguard" measures should be put in place related to signing bonus payments for international amateurs.
• How to improve educational programs at teams' international academies.
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