Removing Draft Pick Forfeiture Would Be a Big Deal for Yankees

The latest rumors from the CBA negotiations suggest that MLB clubs like the New York Yankees may no longer have to worry about giving up draft picks to sign free agents.

One of the factors behind the New York Yankees hesitancy to pursue many top free agents the past two offseasons has been their reluctance to surrender their first round draft picks.

For years, the Yankees have had one of the worst farm systems in the game because they regularly forfeited their top picks in order to sign the best names available on the market, but the front office’s new commitment to building from within has made them much more cautious about giving them up.

In his latest column Saturday, Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball provided an update from the ongoing Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations that could have huge implications for how the Yankees do business going forward.

Heyman reports that in exchange for the Players’ Association agreeing to an international draft, Major League Baseball would agree to completely do away with having draft pick compensation attached to free agency at all, making it “the freest free agency in sports” according to one source Heyman spoke to.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recently was very candid about the restrictions the old CBA put on big-market clubs like his, telling George King of The New York Post:

The CBA is going to affect us in the long term. It’s already crippled us in the short term. Exhibit A is our free agency last year and a lot of the international markets I’ve been taken out of.

The previous CBAs have really hindered us, so I think the next one is something we’re clearly going to be interested in on how it will impact us over the entire course of the term of the contract. The previous ones have impacted us in a bad way. In the short term, I don’t think it will affect how we do business in 2017.

The last few have impacted us exactly as they were expected to and why it was done the way it was. Lots of teams benefitted significantly, and everyone is always trying to find common ground between small markets and big markets.

The league has taken many measures to level the playing field in recent years including the luxury tax, draft bonus pools, and limiting international spending. Removing draft pick compensation for free agents would be the rare change that might actually benefit the Yankees.

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Unfortunately, any changes wouldn’t go into effect until next offseason, meaning free agents who are good fits for the club but would require surrendering picks, like Kenley Jansen and Edwin Encarnacion, remain that much more unlikely.

Still, the Yankees should have a bunch more money coming off the books next winter with Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, and possibly Masahiro Tanaka coming off the books. Not having to give up their first rounder could be further encouragement for New York to go on a spending spree.

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