Had Major League Baseball and the Players Association come to an agreement on economic and health issues, teams likely would have been regathering this week.
MLB’s idea of an 82-game season beginning the July 4 weekend looks to be dead unless there’s a sudden turn in the negotiations.
There has been chatter that commissioner Rob Manfred is going to propose a 50-game schedule as a last resort. He believes he has the power to mandate a schedule.
The idea of a 50-game regular season is awful. How many bad judgments on players, managers and teams would be made after a season that short?
In 2019, the Washington Nationals started the season 19-31 and went on to win the World Series.
Fans seemed willing to accept the idea of an 82-game schedule because it was slightly more than half a season. Many thought that half a season was better than none.
But 50 games? I don’t think even the hardcore fan will think that that’s better than no baseball.
Draft this week: There will be some substantive non-labor news this week.
On Wednesday, the the MLB draft begins, and the Orioles have six picks in the five rounds.
They’ll pick second and 30th on Wednesday. Their 30th pick is the first in Competitive Balance Round A, and they move up a slot because the Houston Astros forfeited their first-round pick as part of their punishment for electronic sign-stealing.
On Thursday, the Orioles have the 39th pick, the second pick of the second round. They’ll also have the second pick in rounds three, four and five.
Fans are more engaged than usual in guessing the Orioles’ first-round selection.
Most draft analysts think the Detroit Tigers, who’ll pick first, will select Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson.
If Torkelson is off the board, some think the Orioles will pick Vanderbilt third baseman/outfielder Austin Martin. Others think New Mexico State middle infielder Nick Gonzales will be the pick.
In recent days, others have written that the Orioles, who have the largest draft pool at $13,894,300, would go for Florida high school outfielder Zac Veen and try to sign him for below the $7,789,900 slotted for the second overall choice and be able to pay players more later in the draft.
Others who are getting lots of play as possible early picks are Texas A&M left-handed pitcher Asa Lacy and Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock. Some chatter linked the Orioles with Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad, whom MLB.com ranks 10th and The Athletic’s Keith Law ranks 11th.
Law ranks Martin as the best prospect in the draft, and in his mock draft, he has the Orioles’ selecting Martin.
The Orioles haven’t selected an infielder with their first pick since Manny Machado, who was the third overall selection in 2010.
Wednesday’s draft begins at 7 p.m. and will be shown on the MLB Network and ESPN. Thursday’s coverage of rounds 2-5 begins at 5 p.m. on MLB Network and ESPN2.
Ciolek on signing on undrafted amateurs: Brad Ciolek, the Orioles’ scouting supervisor, believes the Orioles will be aggressive in signing eligible players who aren’t drafted. Players not taken in the five-round draft can be signed for a maximum of $20,000.
In an interview last week, Ciolek discussed the issue.
Question: Do you think the Orioles will be able to “out-opportunity” other teams in signing these $20,000 free agents?
Ciolek: “I think as far as the opportunities are concerned, I will just say this: Mike Elias has always been the type to aggressively push players in the minor leagues if he feels that they’re ready.
“There’s not exactly a Rubric or a step-by-step process. There are certain guys last year like Johnny Rizer and [Zach] Watson that moved up a little more quickly instead of just keeping them at one spot and that is one thing that Mike and our development staff will focus in on, and that might be appealing to a lot of these guys who end up not getting drafted — the fact that we’ll promote guys when we think that they’re ready instead of saying, ‘Let’s wait a whole year and see how he does and move him up gradually.’
“I think in regards to your question about opportunities, it certainly rings true in this circumstance.”