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An introduction to Major League Baseball’s draft

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The amateur draft is right around the corner. Where will the Mets be selecting, and just how will the process work this season?

2020 Major League Baseball Draft
Rob Manfred
Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

For the first time ever, the Major League Baseball will host its annual Rule 4 Draft, better known as the First-Year Player Draft, during the month of July, held in conjunction with All-Star Game festivities. Before this change, the draft was held in the beginning of June, just as high school/college seasons were winding down and just before the start of the short-season leagues.

Here’s the schedule for this year’s draft, which will take place in Denver:

  • July 11, 7:07 PM EDT: Day 1 (Round 1), MLB Network/ESPN
  • July 12, 1:00 PM EDT: Day 2 (Rounds 2-10),
  • July 13, 12:00 PM EDT: Day 3 (Rounds 11-20),

The Mets ended the COVID-shortened 2020 season with a 26-34 record, in fourth place in the National League East, and will make the 10th overall selection in the draft this year.

In order to be eligible to be selected in the 2021 MLB Draft, a player must meet the criteria applicable to them:

  • Be a resident of, or have attended an educational institution in, the United States, Canada, or a U.S. territory such as Puerto Rico. Players from other countries are not subject to the draft, and can be signed by any team unless they have attended an educational institution in the aforementioned areas.
  • Have never signed a major or minor league contract.
  • High school players are eligible only after graduation, and if they have not attended college.
  • Players at four-year colleges and universities are eligible three years after first enrolling in such an institution, or after their 21st birthdays (whichever occurs first).
  • Junior and community college players are eligible to be drafted at any time.

The 2020 MLB Draft was unlike any draft that had come before it. Normally 40 rounds long, the 2020 was limited to just five, its 160 picks down 87% from the 1,217 selected in the 2019 MLB. This year’s draft will not be as abbreviated, but will not return to the 40-round format that had been the norm since 2012, as Major League Baseball and the MLBPA agreed that the 2021 MLB Draft will last 20 rounds.

Each selection made in the first 10 rounds of the draft is assigned a monetary value by Major League Baseball. The sum of these values, collectively known as the bonus pool, cannot be exceeded without a penalty. Exceeding the bonus pool threshold by 0-5% results in a 75% tax on the overage. Exceeding the bonus pool threshold by 5-10% results in a 75% tax on the overage and the forfeiture of a team’s first-round selection in the 2022 MLB Draft. Exceeding the bonus pool by more than 10-15% results in a 100% tax on the overage and the forfeiture of a team’s first and second-round selections in the 2022 MLB Draft. Exceeding the bonus pool by more than 15% results in a 100% tax on the average and the loss of first round picks in the 2022 and 2023 MLB Drafts. In total, the Mets have a bonus pool valued at $9,026,300, with an assigned slot value for the 10th overall pick of $4,739,900.

Draft-eligible players who are passed over and not selected are eligible to sign free agent minor league contacts. Clubs are allowed to sign an unlimited amount of such players for a maximum of $20,000.