In usual circumstances, a team is awarded a pick in the next draft if it’s unable to sign its draftee. That requires the franchise offer 40 percent of a player’s allotted slot value (in this case, the Braves would’ve needed to offer $1,992,280). The MLB Players’ Association filed a grievance, stating the Braves didn’t reach that 40 percent threshold, The Athletic reported in October.
Stewart, who switched to the Boras Agency following the negotiation breakdown, sought free agency. It would’ve allowed teams to freely bid for his services rather than be held within the confines of draft regulations.
His case was outlined in the collective bargaining agreement, which says if a draftee fails a club-administrated physical, and the team does not offer a bonus at the 40-percent threshold, the player is granted free agency and the team won’t receive a compensation pick.
There’s no timetable for a resolution, but it will be a significant decision for the Braves organization.
A high draft pick alone is a premium asset, but the team’s limitations on the international market further stress the domestic draft’s importance. Losing a top-10 pick after seeing so much prospect depth exit last offseason as penalty for the previous regime’s corruption would be a blow for an organization trying to keep its system strong while trying to contend in the present.
Stewart opted for junior college rather than Mississippi State, to which he committed before the draft, because he’ll be draft eligible again in 2019. Stewart’s age, build and noted curveball could easily put him back into the top 10 selections.
The Braves also own the 21st pick of the first round this year, a result of their 90-win season.