Dodging the Draft: Analyzing the Competitive Impact of Baseball’s Amateur Draft

Abstract: Much has been made through the years in the media, literature and academia of Major League Baseball’s infamous antitrust exemption, mostly through the prism of free agency, franchise relocation and television rights. But perhaps the most lasting and damning impact of the exemption resides in the annual Rule 4 Draft, in which MLB’s 30 franchises alternate selections for the exclusive rights to select the top amateur players from Canada and the United States during the first week in June. Yet as calls for reform of the draft have grown in recent years, whether to curb the growing bonuses spurred by two decades of savvy player agents or to include the league’s growing talent sources in the Caribbean, the most pertinent questions typically are left unaddressed. First, are drafted players overpaid? (As a general rule, no.) Second, does the draft distribute talent more evenly than the amateur free agent market? (Probably.) Third, how do we fix it to reward effective management, not lucking into talent via consistent ineptitude or simply having the biggest pursestrings. (Shorten the draft, force teams to carry high-bonus players and drafted players on their expanded rosters, and limit the duration of teams’ control of minor leaguers).

The full paper can be found here

The conference poster can be found here

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