Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, MLB plans to hold its draft virtually on June 10 and 11, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
ESPN obtained a copy of the memo MLB sent to teams saying that clubs cannot have draft rooms but will participate in the event via video conference. The league’s approach could change as the event draws closer, reports Passan.
Teams’ general managers or president of baseball operations will be seen on camera with no audio during the draft. The first day of the draft on June 10 will feature only the first round (37 picks) and start at 7 p.m. ET. Day two will include rounds two through five (123 picks) and begin at 5 p.m. ET. After the first five rounds, teams can sign an unlimited number of players for up to $20,000, per Passan.
Last week, MLB shortened the draft to just five rounds instead of its typical 40 rounds. The decision followed a late-March report that the MLB and MLBPA reached an agreement on a deal pertaining to issues of service time, pay and the draft. As part of the previously reported agreement, the 2021 draft can be shortened to 20 rounds and the 2021-22 international signing period can be moved to anytime between January and December 2022.
MLB becomes the third major U.S. sports league to hold a virtual draft during the pandemic. Both the WNBA and NFL held theirs in April, paving the way for MLB to follow suit. MLB has always held a more low-key draft. However, the league could potentially use the virtual format and lean into the new environment to show viewers what GMs are doing at home in their draft rooms or focus more on the players.