Major League Baseball will not implement a draft for international free agents, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported on Friday.
MLB and the players union had reportedly been discussing instituting an international draft in March. Buster Olney of ESPN reported that the owners were willing to "give up significant concessions" to put an international draft in place in 2014, including a higher minimum salary and less time to qualify for arbitration.
Those negotiations apparently did not work out, as baseball teams will still sign international free agents instead of drafting them for at least one more season. Currently each team has an allotted bonus pool to sign international free agents, and can begin signing players on July 2nd. Teams will face stiff penalties if they spend more money than their allotted bonus pool, penalties described in detail by Ben Badler of Baseball America.
There had been some concern that instituting an international draft would hurt competitive balance, something baseball should want to avoid. Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated discussed the issue earlier this year, writing:
Increased financial restraints on international bonuses are intended to level the playing field in the name of competitive balance, since competitors will no longer be able to outspend one another in significant fashion. The reality is just the opposite, as such restrictions make it harder for teams - particularly those on smaller budgets - to build by focusing their limited resources on the acquisition of amateur talent instead of on major league salaries.
Josh Leventhal of Baseball America pointed out some of the reasons that baseball hopes to eventually institute a draft, stating:
Another motivation for MLB to create an international draft is to clamp down on age and identity fraud, performance-enhancing drug use and bonus skimming primarily in Latin America.
Bud Selig said last season that instituting an international amateur draft is "inevitable," so the issue will likely come back for the 2015 season. For now, baseball teams will still sign international players in free agency.