Major League Baseball and its players' union appear to be close to agreeing to a draft structure that will serve to restrain signing bonuses -- something commissioner Bud Selig has wanted -- and could eliminate first-round draft pick compensation, which is something that has hurt veteran free agents in recent years, sources said.
The sides continue to make progress, with one official characterizing the talks "at the 10-yard-line."
According to sources a handful of issues still need to be sorted out, but these are some of the broad strokes that have been discussed about the draft:
• There will be slot recommendations for the first 10 rounds. No team is required to honor the individual recommendations, but there will be a cumulative number -- a bonus ceiling -- based on those recommendations assigned to each team for the first 10 rounds.
• If a team goes over its cumulative slot recommendation, there will be a tax for the first time, and the second time they will lose a high draft pick, perhaps in the first or second round.
• In return, the players would get this concession from the owners -- there will be no first-round pick draft compensation. In recent years, teams have become increasingly reluctant to sign free agents tied to first-round draft picks, which has impacted the market for those players. There will continue to be draft pick compensation, but in some other form -- either in later rounds or in supplemental rounds.
Senior writer Buster Olney covers Major League Baseball for ESPN The Magazine.