Saturday, November 6, 2010

International Draft.

This isn't really a Twins post but I felt compelled to post this.

Yesterday and today, I've been hearing about teams placing bids on Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. And as I understand it now, these bids are just to get exclusive contract negotiations. Bids are reportedly in the $15 million range. And thats all just to talk to the guy. So in theory, you could pay that money, contract talks could fizzle out, he goes to the next highest bidder, and you are out $15+ million. This is outrageous. One of my biggest issues is not having an international draft in MLB. It's fine if the great Japanese or Cuban players want to play here, but the bidding wars to get these players have gone too far.

Jose Contreras, for example, was a great pitcher in Cuba. And after 2002 he chose to defect to the U.S. and play in the majors. The bidding war for his services came down to the Red Sox and Yankees. The Sox were almost his choice, but a late push for him by the Yanks landed him in the Bronx. The late push included the Yankees scouts trying to sign him, pleading with him to sign, because their jobs were on the line. Seriously, you will fire your scouts because they didn't get him signed?! They probably got fired anyway because Contreras turned out sour after a few mediocre seasons in the Bronx. BAD DEAL

Another example of the outrageous bidding wars is Daisuke Matsuzaka. In the winter of '06 his team, the Seibu Lions, put him up for sale to the highest bidder, much like Iwakuma is. Matsuzaka was the best in Japan. His stuff was legendary over there. And the Boston Red Sox won the rights to sign him with a $50 million bid. They then went on to sign him to a 6 year/$52 million contract. He had a average rookie campaign followed by a amazing 08 going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA. But in the two years that have followed he has just pitched in 37 games. And his ERA averages around 5. BAD DEAL

The Twins signed Miguel Angel Sano last year as a international free agent to a deal that included a $3 million signing bonus. But he is just 17 years old. Contreras and Matsuzaka came to the majors in their early 30s. Iwakuma will be 30 on opening day. So I hope a team thinks twice before signing him long term. Because he can only give you 2-3 years of his best stuff before his skills start going south.

My point to all this is, either MLB set a limit on these bidding wars or they put in a international draft. A draft would help some teams add more talent to their roster and it prevents the Big Market teams from throwing millions at them instantly. A draft would make them earn their salary. To be fair, it can't be great for these guys to come over and play under the enormous pressure of the big markets, so a draft would help them settle in, in the US too. Because moving here can't be that easy. This is something MLB seriously should consider. Teams have wasted money bidding on players that fizzle out. Its bad for the teams, its bad for the player, its bad for baseball. And all this would do is give the little guys a extra push against the big guys.

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