In a way, the Washington Nationals got lucky with the new MLB collective-bargaining agreement, which was announced Tuesday at 1 p.m. One new element in the deal is a draft spending tax on teams that go above the slot in signing their draft picks. Via MLB Trade Rumors, by way of Jeff Passan:
Teams that spend more than 5% over-slot on the draft will face a 75% tax, according to Passan (all Twitter links). Teams that go over slot by 5-10% face a 75% tax and the loss of a first rounder. Teams that go over slot by 10-15% face a 100% tax and the loss of a first and second rounder. Teams that exceed slot by 15% or more face a 100% tax and the loss of two first rounders. MLB wanted the top players to be selected in order of talent, according to Passan. This set of rules will also reduce draft spending significantly, a bonus for owners.
Boy, it's a good thing these rules are happening now and not three years ago.
Over the past three years, the Nationals have made a mockery of the slot system, both with their high picks and their mid-round picks. Their commitment to spending on the draft, along with lucking into Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, are the major reasons why their farm system depth went from horrendous to solid. Had these rules been in place three years ago, the Nationals certainly would have struggled to replenish their farm system.
More fundamentally, had these rules been in place then, would as many top prospects have even come out in the first place? Not only did the Nationals benefit from paying above slot, but they also did so in deep draft classes. Will those even exist anymore?
Point being: this stinks for the Nationals and other teams who commit heavy resources in the draft going forward, but at least it didn't happen sooner, when the Nationals' farm system needed the extra resources the most.
HT: SB Nation Tampa Bay.