Why can't MLB teams trade draft picks like the NHL or NFL?

It would make for much more interesting drafts, and teams could "stock up" on young talent, then burn picks for veterans to make a playoff push like in many baseball simulation leagues.

But is there a reasoning behind not allowing MLB teams to trade draft picks beyond "the commissioner said 'NO'"?

  • 3
    Not an answer, but supplemental info- It's also important to note that MLB has a significantly higher number of players that opt not to sign after being drafted and then re-enter the draft at a later time.
    – Jacob G
    Jun 26, 2012 at 19:29
  • @JacobG very good point. This is a function of some NCAA rules which allow baseball players to enter/stay in school even after they have entered baseball's draft, something that is not allowed in other collegiate sports.
    – wax eagle
    Jun 26, 2012 at 19:34

2 Answers 2


The MLB has no salary cap. Can you imagine if the Yankees wanted draft picks? They can get almost every pick they please.

In other words, "competitive balance" is the reason. In addition, the current expired MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) does did not allow trading of draft picks.

However, in 2013, the new MLB CBA will let some teams trade some picks.

After the 2012 MLB Draft signing deadline passes, MLB’s 10 smallest-market teams and 10 lowest-revenue teams (if a team is in both lists, they will count as BOTH a smallest-market AND lowest-revenue team – which means up to 20 (but most likely not 20) teams will fall under this umbrella) will be placed in a “Competitive Balance Lottery” – a product of the new CBA.

The odds of winning a draft pick through the lottery will be based on each team’s winning percentage from the previous season (like the NBA). In the 2013 MLB Draft, there will be two groups of six lottery picks; one group after the first round, one group after the second round. The teams from the first group that did not win one of the picks from the first group will be re-entered in the lottery along with any other team that receives revenue sharing. However, only a team that wins a pick in the lottery can trade it, meaning the selection can be traded just once. Picks also can’t be sold for cash, and may only be dealt during the regular season.


The simple answer here is that you cannot trade draft picks because the trading of draft picks is not allowed by the collective bargaining agreement.

The CBA for any American sport league lays out the terms on which the players and owners agree to run their sports league. It, along with unions and some other legal maneuvering are required in order to escape anti-trust regulations that are set up by the United States Congress to promote competition and limit monopolies. Because Sport Leagues are functionally monopolies there are special protections in place so that they can exist (primarily CBAs and Unions for players, coaches and officials) without serious legal repercussions. When players and owners cannot come to terms on a CBA you see the kind of legal maneuvering that the NFL and their players' association participated in last summer.

Baseball just signed a brand new collective bargaining agreement before this current season that is good for a number of years. While that brought numerous changes to the draft, the trading of draft picks was not one of the changes that was made.

  • note: I feel like I've read something about possible amendments during this collective bargaining period that may include both the trading of draft picks and an international draft of some kind.
    – wax eagle
    Jun 26, 2012 at 19:25

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