2011 Senior thesis predicted MLB contract issue

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Five years ago, on the cusp of a Major League Baseball (MLB) players’ strike, two Colgate students, Harry Raymond ’11 and Ethan Levitt ’11, along with Professor Ken Segall, explored what they determined to be a broken MLB free agency system. That work was published by the Baseball Hall of Fame and was presented at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

This week, as MLB and the Players Union narrowly avoided what could have been the first strike in 20 years, one of the main issues of contention was the free-agency issue that Raymond and Levitt brought to light in 2011.

“We wrote a paper on reducing draft pick compensation for signing another team’s free agent,” said Raymond. “Using regression analysis to compare the value of draft picks vs. free agents, we urged the commissioner to change the system, because owners would stop signing free agents because draft picks were more valuable.”

According to FoxSports.com, a verbal agreement was made between the two sides with less than four hours left in the contract Wednesday night. Part of that agreement reportedly includes penalties for signing certain free agents to influence a team’s draft order and a hard cap on annual bonus pools for drafted international players.

“It’s pretty cool to see your work hit the mainstream,” Raymond said.

Raymond, a Colgate Thought Into Action volunteer mentor and a past recipient of start-up capital from the Entrepreneurs Fund, has founded a number of businesses including SwigHQ and DrinkEasy. Levitt continues his study of baseball, working as an analyst for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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