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Thursday, January 24, 2013
CBA language appears problem for Mets

By Adam Rubin

The Mets are arguing that their No. 11 pick should be protected -- and not forfeited if they sign Michael Bourn. The logic: The pick would have been in the top 10 had the Pittsburgh Pirates not been awarded an extra pick for failing to sign a draftee in 2012, which bumped the Mets back a slot.

The collective bargaining agreement proves a problem if strictly read, though. The relevant sentence reads:

"... A Club shall not be required to forfeit a selection in the top ten of the first round of the Rule 4 Draft, and its highest available selection shall be deemed its first selection following the tenth selection of the first round."

MLB interprets the language as if only 10 picks are protected no matter the circumstances, and that pool is not expanded if compensatory picks are awarded within the top 10.

The sense around some in baseball Thursday was that unless the union pushes the issue hard on Scott Boras' behalf, MLB has no incentive to reintrepret the rule. Even a push from the union may go nowhere because MLB has no incentive to budge, although at least one person who would benefit from the pick becoming protected felt they had a strong shot at prevailing, according to ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand.

By protecting the Mets' pick -- expanding the pool of protected picks to 11 this year, and setting a precedent -- MLB essentially would be allowing the Mets to bid more aggressively because the team would not be concerned about losing its first-round pick.

Expanding the pool of bidders theoretically would drive up Bourn's price -- not a precedent MLB would desire, since it represents 30 owners, who have an interest in keeping salary costs contained.