Over the winter, the Padres, Nationals, and Rays agreed on a big three-way trade that shipped Wil Myers to San Diego, Steven Souza and a bunch of other stuff to Tampa Bay, and a couple of prospects to Washington. Joe Ross was the only named prospect at the time of the deal, but the Nationals also received a PTBNL, who was quickly reported to be Trea Turner, the Padres first round selection from last June’s draft.
Because draft picks are not eligible to be traded for 12 months from their signing date, the Padres and Nationals are not allowed to confirm that Turner has indeed already been traded, and he remains in the Padres organization at this time. However, it’s public knowledge that Turner will be changing organizations mid-summer, creating an awkward situation where the Padres are stewarding another team’s asset. As I wrote after the trade was made and Turner was unofficially revealed as the PTBNL, this was a bad situation for all to be involved in, and likely required a rule change.
Well, as of today, that rule has officially been changed. An email has been sent to all 30 MLB teams regarding this adjustment, and reads as follows, as told to me by a source who got the email:
Please be advised that the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association have agreed to amend the Major League Rules in advance of this year’s Rule 4 Draft with respect to players-to-be-named-later (“PTBNLs”) under Rule 12(e)(2), and the trading of draft picks under Rule 3(b)(6). …commencing with players eligible for the 2015 Rule 4 Draft, (a) players selected in the Draft may be traded beginning on the day following the conclusion of the World Series, and (b) drafted players cannot be PTBNLs unless they otherwise could be traded pursuant to Rule 3(b)(6), as amended, at the time of the trade.
This amendment replaces the previous 12 month waiting period with a new no-trade restriction of roughly five months, allowing teams to then officially trade their most recent draft picks the following off-season. Instead of forcing teams to use the PTBNL loophole — those don’t have to be declared for six months, so a team could start trading draft picks six months after the draft previously — teams can now freely move these players, which will allow players in Turner’s situation going forward to change organizations in time for the next Spring Training.
This doesn’t help Turner himself, who will remain in the Padres organization until mid-June, so he has another six weeks left as a ward of the Padres. But going forward, future Trea Turners will not be forced to sit in limbo while they wait for teams to acknowledge what everyone else already knows. And given that the Nationals were able to dictate some of his handling this year — what level he started at and the position he plays, mostly, so that the Padres didn’t just experiment with him as an A-ball catcher or something — this probably didn’t end up doing significant harm to Turner’s career.
But it was always a silly exercise to have to go through, and now no one else will have to follow in Turner’s footsteps. This was a good and necessary rule change, and it’s nice to see MLB moving to act quickly when situations like this arise.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.