MLB Union Short on Latino Votes Ahead of International Draft Deadline

“There were a lot of meetings and they listened to us,” Cruz, 42, from the Dominican Republic, said of the union. “A lot of Latino players were involved.”

MLB has announced it will revise the international free-agent system, which allows children as young as 16 to sign with teams, due to concerns about corruption, performance-enhancing drug use and verbal agreements with children much younger than allowed, particularly in The Dominican Republic. The Caribbean island has produced more baseball players than any other country outside of the United States

But the union, whose previous proposals to change MLB’s existing international filing system were rejected, has pointed to teams’ front offices and scouts as the culprit. After the new contract was signed in March, Tony Clark, the union’s executive director and former player, called the challenges of the current system “mainly linked to those who cut the cheques”.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred countered last month, telling reporters, “Our efforts to curb corruption in the Dominican Republic are ongoing and legion. It’s easy to say that it’s the people who write the check, that they’re involved in corruption. But you know, someone takes the check, right?”

MLB has proposed a draft of 20 rounds for international amateurs beginning in 2024, requiring $181 million in spending on the top 600 picks, strict rules on assigned bonuses on each pick, and a $20,000 limit on picks would involve the signing of undrafted free agents. The union retaliated last week with a 20-round draft that would include spending $260 million on the top 600 picks, looser rules on assigned bonuses, a $40,000 limit on committing uncollected Free Agents and included a number of measures that they felt could improve players’ development and education.

(Once an amateur player signs with a team, the union doesn’t represent him until he’s on a 40-man major league roster.)