On Andrew Heaney

I’ve gotten away from the whole “respond to other bloggers” thing a bit, which is weird considering that me taking potshots at other bloggers was my bread and butter at most a year ago. So here, and apologies for distracting from the Future Hall of Very Good project, I’m going to take some mild, gentle jabs at Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk. If you click this link here, you’ll see that Brother Matthew wrote that MLB and the MLBPA should be ashamed of negotiating a draft system that’s leaving Marlins draftee Andrew Heaney in a tough position:

Heaney is left with the choice of taking less money than MLB decided he was worth where he was picked or going back to school or pitching in indy ball and risking losing a couple of million dollars if he gets hurt.

The reason being that the Marlins have signaled that they are willing to not sign Heaney unless he agrees to a below-slot deal. The result would be Heaney having to wait until next year to be re-drafted and the Marlins getting a compensation pick in the first round of the 2013 draft.

My disagreement with Pouliot is mild, because I concur that this is a shameful situation: Heaney wants to play professional baseball, has the ability to play professional baseball, and has the talent to command a seven-figure contract to play professional baseball, but the Marlins have him over a barrel and can more or less unilaterally decide whether he gets to play professional baseball. Where we part ways is that Pouliot says this:

And [shame on] the MLBPA, too, for signing away draftees [sic] rights in the last CBA.

The situation that Heaney faces does not exist because of the bonus cap or any of the other innovations of the 2012 CBA. The situation Heaney faces exists because of the draft. Heaney has one team he is permitted to bargain with. The Marlins will not lose Heaney to the Yankees if they do not offer him enough money—they will simply lose Heaney. This hurts, certainly, but it would hurt double if Heaney were not only taken away from them but given to another team.

(Pouliot also insinuates that the compensatory pick that Miami will receive in 2013 if they fail to sign Heaney was part of the 2012 CBA, but it was not. While said compensatory picks are a major factor for teams because they reduce the amount of damage that non-signers can do to a farm system, they’ve been a part of the draft for years now. The Nationals had both the #1 and #10 picks in the 2009 draft, for instance, the #1 being their reward for sucking and the #10 being their “compensation” for failing to sign Aaron Crow in 2008.)

Anyway, the draft was instituted in 1965. The first collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLBPA was signed in 1968. I’m on record saying that I dislike the MLBPA bargaining away even more power from amateur players, but the initial step that moved amateurs from a system where they could auction themselves off to a system where they could sign the contract offered them or sign no contract at all was implemented unilaterally by the owners. (Bless the Supreme Court for that antitrust exemption, eh?)