1:23 PM ET

The MLB had reached its 98th day and was threatening to cancel a second week of regular-season games. There were gaps between the owners and players around minimum salaries and a designated player pool. The competitive balance tax threshold was an issue that at times seemed to jeopardize the entire deal.

An international draft became the main obstacle to a new collective bargaining agreement.

Major League Baseball has been pushing for one from the beginning of negotiations and decided it would not agree to eliminate draft-pick compensation without it. The connection was derided by the MLB Players Association, which says it rejected an international draft at every turn. Latin American players were afraid that it might change the dynamics of baseball-rich countries like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. The New York Mets' Francisco Lindor claimed that discussions around an international draft were a way for the league to divide players.

Lindor, a member of the union's executive subcommittee, said on Thursday that the issue is bigger than just Latin Players. We need to get it right.

On Thursday morning, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a July 25 deadline to establish an international draft that would begin in 2024. After another week of games was canceled on Wednesday, the agreement seemed to remove a major roadblock in the talks. Over the next several months, the international draft will be a major talking point among union members and league officials.

What is it? The league wants it so bad. Why are players against it? How did the two sides come together?

Below are the questions we tackled.

How it would work

High school and collegiate players in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico are subject to the traditional MLB draft that occurs every summer. There is a large number of amateur players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela who are not subject to a draft.

The first overall pick in the traditional amateur draft is signed for $6.5 million last year, but MLB wants to change that by establishing a separate, 20-round draft with hard slots that start at $5.51 million for the first overall pick. The order of the draft would be random, with teams assigned to one of four groups.

The signing age would remain the same as the current international system, but MLB would institute mandatory drug testing and allow for the trading of draft picks. Extra picks would be given to teams that drafted players from previously underrepresented countries.

What would change

Ten years ago, in an effort to shrink the disparity in international spending, MLB introduced a system that assigned international bonus pools to each team. According to people familiar with the international market, teams were able to project the amount of money that would be given to them several years in advance, which gave them the ability to scout and agree with players before they turned 16.

A team identifies a promising player who doesn't turn 16 until 2020. A handshake deal is struck between the team and the player with the help of a family member or trainer. The player cannot be seen by scouts for other organizations after he commits to a team. When the international market opens in 2020, the team officially signs that player. On the first day of the international signing period, a lot of signings are announced.

This can cause a lot of issues. Industry sources who have spoken out against these issues in the past say that sometimes teams threaten to reduce those players' bonuses days before they officially sign them, or back off on the agreement altogether. The players are vulnerable because they haven't been seen by other teams, and those other teams already have most of their international spending money accounted for. The trainers don't report the wrongdoing because they don't want to burn a bridge with the teams that serve as their main source of income.

People with knowledge of the dynamics say that even those who do sign must pay the trainers a significant portion of their bonus, up to 50%, and are at times funneled to certain agencies who have pre-arranged agreements with those trainers. Baseball is the only way for these kids to escape poverty and they are often exploited for it. Several agents, coaches and executives familiar with the international market have long said teams scout and agree with players at early ages, some as young as 12 and 13 years old, and that it is not uncommon for teenagers to be given performance- enhancing drugs by trainers in an effort to bolster.

A Venezuela minor league coach said that he saw what was happening in Venezuela with his own eyes. When I asked about the kid's age, they said he was eligible to be signed in 2026. We have to find a solution, and I think we have to draft it. Something needs to be done.

Who wants it

MLB has been pushing for an international draft for the past two decades and believes the need for one increased in recent years as the number of early signings and renegotiated bonuses increased. The league believes that an international draft will solve two major issues within the current international structure: those 12- and 13-year-olds making deals with teams, and the use of performance enhancing drugs among them.

An oral history of the 1994 MLB strike. Tim Kurkjian.

The vast majority of Latin players have long favored a free-market system over an international draft. A large segment of scouts, executives and agents believe that a draft is necessary.

One agent who represents players from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic said that MLB didn't do enough to fix the issues in recent years. It is out of control.

This has gotten so out of hand that now MLB is trying to impose the draft to solve a problem they have created and did nothing to prevent or solve.

The league disagrees with the idea that it has turned a blind eye to widespread corruption, with one official saying the current system encourages bad behavior, encourages early deals and doesn't have enough teeth to punish people. The international bonus pools amounted to $150 million. The 614 picks for the international draft add up to $181 million, with no limit on the number of players who can sign as free agents for up to $20,000.

Who doesn't want it

The strongest voice against the sudden implementation of an international draft has been that of the most influential Dominican baseball player. The Hall of Fame designated hitter doesn't oppose the concept but believes it needs time to be implemented and that MLB needs to speak with players and coaches from the affected countries before subjecting them to a draft.

I understand MLB wants to have control over everything, but you're not going to change the system overnight.

The difficulty of regulating birth certificates and medical information in the Dominican and Venezuela made it difficult for agents and scouts to determine a draft class. If trainers no longer have the financial incentive that comes from receiving a percentage of the players bonuses, would they still be incentivized to train them? What would happen to a kid who has promise but whose parents don't have the money to give him structured training? Those who are 15 and 16 would have the same problem. How many kids would abandon baseball because of it? How would that affect the interest in baseball in their countries?

The international draft is going to kill baseball in the Dominican Republic, according to San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr.

Get informed before jumping to conclusions. pic.twitter.com/VA34RbC3K0

— Francisco Lindor (@Lindor12BC) March 10, 2022

MLB says it is committed to putting enough infrastructure in place to allow amateur players from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and other nations to receive proper training, but will it be enough? It promises to make trainers a vital part of the process, but will they be rewarded in the same way? None of the people in the industry have solid answers to the questions posed on Wednesday. Several players believe that an international draft should wait a few more years.

The agent said that he supports the international draft because of the rampant steroid use in children. I want them to do well. Players have to be involved in the process. It can't become a last-minute issue when it's so delicate. People don't understand how things work in the DR.

What happens next

MLB presented the MLBPA with three options around a Nov. 15 deadline to decide on the international draft and how it would affect the qualifying offer system. The counter was not submitted before 6 p.m. The cancellation of another week of games was caused by the deadline.

The two sides agreed to a July 25 deadline for the union to decide if it wants an international draft. The draft-pick compensation would be removed if the players sign off on one. The status quo would return if those two issues are not addressed.

The next four months will be spent debating the merits of a complicated system. If MLB waited until 2024, it would give them more time to put the proper infrastructure in place, but others have suggested the possibility of moving the international draft even further back, to 2025 or 2026, to give places like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela more time to prepare for what would be a

There is only one Latin American team representative and one in the eight-person executive subcommittee, which is a concern for many.

One Latin American player urged to include them in the process. Don't dismiss what we think.