This column appears in the July 25 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
FOR BASEBALL AFICIONADOS, there are few more exciting events than the June draft. But next-level seamheads know that an equally important time for restocking the farm system begins on July 2. That's when amateurs from around the world who've already turned 16 can sign with major league clubs. Unlike the June draft, which covers the U.S. and its territories and Canada, international players are true free agents. Through this system -- and a lot of diligent scouting, personal attention and tactful negotiation -- big league teams have uncovered Latin American gems like Jose Reyes, Felix Hernandez and Starlin Castro. In fact, this star search is one of the few areas where big- and small-market teams compete on a level playing field.
But all that will be lost if Bud Selig gets his way. Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expires in December, and the commissioner has made it clear he wants a worldwide draft in the next CBA. Why? Follow the money.