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Ask BA: Should MLB Teams Be Allowed To Trade Draft Picks?

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Q: How do you feel about trading draft picks? Do you think it would work?
—Lonnie Hudson Smith

A: In a small way, baseball has already dipped its toe into trading draft picks. Teams are allowed to trade competitive balance picks, which are the supplemental picks after the first and second rounds. The Padres recently acquired the Twins’ supplemental second-round pick (No. 74 overall) in the trade that offloaded veteran Phil Hughes and some of his salary.

If baseball were to allow draft picks to be traded, it would have few advantages and significant disadvantages. An NBA or NFL system in which teams can trade picks at any time during the draft would not work.

An NBA draft has 60 players. An NFL draft has 253 players. The baseball draft has 40 rounds and more than 1,200 players selected. Because the baseball draft already takes two days to complete, in addition to the made-for-TV day one, the trading of picks would only serve to slow things down.

But the bigger problem is that any added excitement created by trading draft picks would be wiped away the first time a team sold a top-10 pick to a large revenue team for salary relief on a bad contract, which would happen. In other words, trading draft picks would only highlight the differences between high revenue teams and low revenue ones.

Not to mention: all 30 organizations have 200 or more players in their farm systems who can be traded at any time.


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