If you’re interested in how a player starts his career in Major League Baseball (MLB), it’s critical to understand how players are selected. Want to know what it’s like? Keep reading!

Every year in June and July, the MLB first-year player draft takes place. The MLB rules determine which players can participate in the draft selection. Although these regulations are extensive, the fundamental requirements for eligibility are as follows: A player is typically eligible to participate in the draft if they are citizens of the US or Canada, and have never previously signed a Major League or Minor League contract. Click here to view the MLB schedule for the 2022 playoffs.

No matter where they are from, players who enlist in a high school or college in the United States are also considered residents.

The following basic groups of athletes are eligible for the draft:

  • High school athletes who have completed their high school education, but have not yet enrolled in college.
  • College athletes from four-year institutions who have completed their junior, or senior years of study or are at least 21 years old.
  • Junior college athletes, regardless of their years of education.
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Rule IV Draft

The first-year player draft is formally referred to as the rule IV draft.

The rule IV draft will end after 20 rounds per the collective bargaining agreement for 2022–2026.

To determine the first six picks, developed a draft lottery for the 2022–2026time frame. Previously, predictions were made using records from the prior season (the worst-performing team was given the first overall pick, which the second-worst club then followed, and so on).

The bottom three clubs each have a 16.5% chance of winning the lottery, based on the reverse order of winning percentage. The 18 non-postseason clubs are eligible. However, revenue-sharing payees are not allowed to win the lottery three years in a row, while non-payees are not allowed to win the lottery two years in a row.

In order of their postseason finishes, postseason teams pick after non-postseason teams (for instance, teams that lose in the Wild Card Round are chosen before those that lose in the Division Series). Teams are arranged within each group in reverse order of winning percentage after being sorted by revenue sharing status.

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Differences Between High School Players, College Players, and Junior College/Community College Players

Some high school athletes attending college have a significant disadvantage, due to the three-year wait period before being eligible once more for the draft. Others see it as three more years to boost their draft stock, and become an even greater prospect.

For those who aren’t quite ready to leap professional baseball, but don’t want to wait three years to become eligible for the draft, the junior college players’ one-year waiting period is a benefit.

When the MLB draft comes around, signability is one of the words scouts use most frequently. Signability is the propensity of a prospect to execute a formal contract.

For instance, if Player A, a high school senior, informs MLB scouts that he plans to attend college regardless of when and by whom he is selected in the draft, they will conclude that he is not signable.

Player B, on the other hand, is a high school senior committed to playing in college. Still, he has made it clear to organizations that, given a choice, he would rather play professional baseball than attend college. He would qualify as signable.

Despite Player A’s superior talent, Player B might have a higher chance of being selected in the draft due to his signability. Teams may feel that selecting Player A with their first-round pick would be a waste.

While it may seem like Player B is getting the better of the deal in this instance, he loses a lot of negotiation power when he expresses his desire to sign a professional contract.

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What Is Leverage in the MLB Draft?

The MLB is a business, and when it comes to contract negotiations, certain players have more clout than others.

A player’s advantage while negotiating his signing bonus after being selected in the MLB draft is known as leverage.

High school athletes and college athletes who still have college eligibility are the players with the most sway in the MLB draft.

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Teams must consider that even if some of these athletes wish to go professionally, they have the choice to finish their collegiate careers. To entice them away from playing collegiate baseball, they might have to give them a more generous signing bonus.

Seniors in college are the least powerful draft prospects, because they cannot choose to go back to school. They often receive significantly smaller signing bonuses as a result.

Players A and B in our prior example were both high school seniors with considerable leverage. Still, Player A had more leverage than Player B due to the latter’s refusal to sign. Player A might request a bigger signing bonus if he were selected to break his commitment.

Signing Bonus in the MLB Draft

All drafted players are granted rookie contracts, which are occasionally negotiable. They can, however, discuss a signing bonus.

Upon being selected in the draft, every draft prospect is given a signing bonus. The player’s bonus depends on where he was selected and how much leverage he has.

Each pick is given a slot value before the draft. The value of a slot is how much money a certain pick is worth. The slot value increases with the value of the draft pick. You can think of this as a property value when purchasing a house. It serves as a reference point for price negotiations.

Teams can pay signing bonuses to players higher or lower than the slot value. Any time a player wins a bonus higher than their slot value, it reduces the amount of money another player in the draft might win.

Teams will occasionally select college seniors early in the draft to save money. These players have relatively little leverage, so teams can offer signing bonuses that are less than their slot value and allocate those funds to players with more power.

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International Draft

There won’t be an MLB international draft, at least not right away.

The Major League Baseball Players Association publicly rejected MLB’s most recent proposal for an international draft. This decision will have repercussions for emerging foreign players.

International Amateur Free Agency

Players (at least 16 years old) who are international amateur free agents do not reside in, attend school, or have ties to the United States or Canada. As a result, teams sign them through the international signing process as they are not eligible for the draft. “Foreign professionals”, or athletes 25 years of age or older who have participated in a foreign professional league recognized by the MLB for at least six seasons, are exempt from the process.

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FAQ

What Is an International Free Agent at MLB?

A young player from a nation whose inhabitants are exempt from the amateur draft is known as an international free agent, or an international amateur free agent. After turning 16, these athletes are free to sign with any major league team, but only during certain times.

There is a cap on the total bonus money that teams can pay to such players, and major league teams are frequently allowed to swap some of this bonus money with other teams.

These laws are quite new. In the past, there were hardly any regulations on the global free agency market. Over time, this resulted in several scandals, prompting MLB to introduce stricter regulations in the 2010s.

Since the Dominican Republic and Venezuela consistently produce baseball players of the highest caliber, the international signing period has recently gained considerable media attention.

What Day Does MLB Free Agency Start?

All players with expiring contracts in MLB become free agents after each season, but they must hold out for at least five days before joining another team.

At any time throughout the off-season, players are permitted to sign with teams during the free agency period, which normally lasts several months.