Amateur Draft "Signing Bonus Pools": The Latest Inequity Made Possible by Baseball's Archaic Antitrust Exemption

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(11 Willamette Sports L.J., no. 1, 2013, at 46). This article argues the amateur draft “Signing Bonus Pools” of Major League Baseball (MLB) violate federal antitrust and labor policy. It begins by describing baseball’s amateur draft and how it affects draftees’ ability to negotiate the terms of their first MLB contract. Next, it traces MLB’s attempts to curb escalating bonuses and details the latest attempt: the Signing Bonus Pool system. The article describes the evolution of baseball’s judicially-crafted exemption from the antitrust laws, followed by an examination of the scope of this exemption. The article discusses the intersection of federal antitrust and labor policy in the context of professional sports, focusing on the “nonstatutory labor exemption” from antitrust law. The author then argues that without baseball’s archaic antitrust exemption, the “Signing Bonus Pool” system included in the newest collective bargaining agreement would be invalid.