"We've got a black and white day to sign players. Previously, that day was until the player walked into a college classroom," Littlefield said...
The Pirates made University of Houston right-hander Brad Lincoln the fourth overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft. They reached an agreement with Lincoln in mid-June -- about two weeks after he was selected.
Under the new CBA, had the Pirates not signed Lincoln by Aug. 15, they would have lost his rights.
However, according the new five-year agreement between the owners and the players' association, the Pirates would then have received a pick from the fourth spot in the following draft had Aug. 15 passed without signing Lincoln.
As a fan of a badly run team, this scares me a little bit. I bet someone like Billy Beane loves this rule because of the potential of smart teams to exploit it. Let's say you have the top pick in the draft, and the equivalent of 1986-era Ken Griffey Jr. won't be eligible until the following year. Why bother even trying to sign the player you pick? What's going to prevent smart, forward-thinking teams from turning the draft into a complete sham, with teams choosing players they have no intention of signing? What's going to prevent players from having to accept insulting offers from the teams that draft them? What's going to prevent some team from holding on to the first pick until a Griffey or Alex Rodriguez becomes available? I can see the Pirates pulling off the insulting offers, but I can't see this rule helping them get the talent they need - their thinking is so short-term that they'd never hold onto a pick for strategic reasons.
Does anyone know the answer to these questions? I'm honestly asking, because I don't.
I love the picture from the article, by the way:
"Mr. Littlefield, do you have anything to say before the state of Pennsylvania sentences you for your crimes against baseball?"