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Undrafted free agents can sign with MLB teams beginning Sunday

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“I haven’t seen the final version of a recruiting video, but we’re going to pull out all the stops,” Dodgers’ Billy Gasparino says. “Maybe Magic Johnson will call a few people. Dave Roberts.”

MLB: JUL 06 Padres at Dodgers
“Let’s call that guy and see if he’ll take $20,000”
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Now that the MLB Draft is over, after only five rounds, there are scores of available players who would have been drafted in the first two days of a normal draft. Those players are free to sign with any team beginning Sunday at 6 a.m. PT.

“I haven’t seen the final version of a recruiting video, but we’re going to pull out all the stops. Maybe Magic Johnson will call a few people. Dave Roberts,” Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino said Thursday night. “We’re going to try and do our best here. Whatever you can think of that’s legal in recruiting, we’re all for.”

Teams have to sell themselves, because they aren’t allowed to offer much money. Signing bonuses are capped at $20,000.

“It really is a recruiting process at this point. I would take our chances against any other team in executing, and trying to sell these guys on who we are, and what we were able to do in the past,” Gasparino said. “I just don’t have a good grasp on the reality of what $20,000, how enticing that is. It won’t be for everyone, it might not be for many.”

For high school players, the choice is pretty easy, even if they have to wait another three years to get drafted by going to a four-year college. The money just isn’t enough. For college players, they can return to the draft in 2021, which will be at least 20 rounds.

Last year, the Dodgers signed 20 players drafted after the fifth round to bonuses over $20,000, for instance. Ten of those players were drafted between the sixth and 20th rounds.

College seniors are the most likely to take the $20,000, because their options are limited. Gasparino said the Dodgers would target some college juniors, too.

“There’s a few different arguments you can make. College baseball, with COVID-19, is kind of up in the air as well,” Gasparino said. “There is some advantage to coming in with us in a smaller draft class. If you’re one of 10 or 12 guys we end up signing instead of 30, that helps your cause. I do think we’ll be able to play some baseball this year, but we still really don’t know what. I hope that’s the case.”

In five previous drafts under Gasparino, the Dodgers have signed an average of 32.4 drafted players per year.

Players who registered for the draft but weren’t picked can opt out of this recruiting process, putting MLB teams on the equivalent of a no-call list. But otherwise, contacting undrafted players is fair game, at least until school starts.

“If they don’t opt out, we’re going to make a list of guys we prefer, order them out, then attack. It will probably be an organizational-wide exercise in recruiting,” Gasparino said. “All bodies, all people, anyone who has insight into these players to try to get it to work. It will definitely be an all hands on deck situation.”

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