Early Sunday morning, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired the 39th overall pick from the Miami Marlins for 27-year old reliever Bryan Morris. Morris has played parts of three seasons for the Pirates, posting an ERA of 3.46 and a 1.36 K/BB ratio. Clearly Morris is not a highly valued reliever, but he is apparently worth the 39th pick in the draft.
For the most part, trading of draft picks are not allowed in the MLB draft. The only picks that are currently allowed to be traded are the Competitive Balance Round picks, but if the MLB draft wants to become mainstream like other sports, the trade market needs to be opened up.
Currently, the MLB draft is televised on the MLB Network and held inside a television studio at the network. The NFL draft set records this year in television viewership, while the NBA, NHL, and MLS drafts move from city to city, allowing fans to take in the festivities and build memories and become fans of players. I personally attended the NHL draft at the Staples Center and remember being asked to change seats by Tyler Seguin, who was the second overall pick by my favorite team, the Boston Bruins.
I know nothing about hockey prospects, but I still follow Seguin, Taylor Hall, and Cam Fowler simply because I was there when they were drafted. So, allowing the draft to take place in MLB cities could improve interest across the minor leagues as fans follow the player they ran into on draft day, but the thing that could add the most interest in the draft would be allowing the trading of picks.
Trade rumors are always a fun part of the baseball season, and leading into the trade deadline of 2013, international signing money was regularly included in in trade deadline deals. Allowing draft picks to be traded would mean the trade season would have already begun, and there are certainly interesting options out there.
The Toronto Blue Jays are currently atop the AL East, and rumors are already swirling they are looking to add pitching. The Blue Jays also happen to have two picks in the top 11 of this coming draft. The Chicago Cubs badly want to add pitching prospects to their farm system, and plan on trading away Jeff Samardzija. There would be rumors abound about the Blue Jay putting together a package that included their pair of first round pick to try and get Samardzija from the Cubs.
Imagine a team like the Dodgers, who historically like to draft college arms, sitting at the back end of the first round, and see a player like Jeff Hoffman, once considered to be a number one overall option before undergoing Tommy John Surgery, falling to the middle of the first round. A swap of first round picks and a mid-level prospect to give the Dodgers a shot at Hoffman would be reasonable and would draw plenty of attention.
The draft is as much for the fans as it is for the team, and trades capture fans interest as much as anything is sports, so allowing trades in the draft would only increase fan interest even more, and you can’t complain about getting fans more interested in your sport.