Monday, April 27, 2009

I wish baseball teams could trade draft picks

After watching this week's NFL Draft, I came back to a thought I've had for some time: Baseball teams, just like football and basketball teams, should be able to trade draft picks.

An writer examined the possibility a few years ago. But I think it deserves a serious look.

My only fear is this: football trades are only interesting for one week a year, the week leading up to the draft. The rest of the time, nobody cares. Fascinating baseball trades, on the other hand, can happen any time of the year (although there is usually a large cluster leading up to Spring Training and another around the trade deadline). My fear would be that baseball trades would get boring, too.

But I think baseball teams need that flexibility.

If baseball teams could trade picks, the Royals probably wouldn't have had to reassign promising catcher Brayan Pena to the minors (although I wrote over the weekend that they shouldn't have done that anyway).

Here's what I mean: the Royals probably didn't have, or wouldn't have had, much luck trying to trade Miguel Olivo or John Buck before the season started, because nobody really wanted to pick up their salaries and no team wanted to give up a player to acquire them.

But what if the Royals could have eaten half of John Buck's salary and traded him to, say, Pittsburgh, for the Pirates' third-round pick in the 2009 draft?

I think the Pirates, or any team needing a catcher, would have been eager to make that deal (basically, John Buck for half price), and the Royals would have been able to unload Buck and still get something in return.

I'm sure this will never happen, though, since you'd have to push something like that through the all-too powerful MLB Players Association. But it's nice to dream.

--Matt Kelsey

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