Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The MLB Draft under the new CBA: This sucks but there is hope

For more on the 2012 MLB Draft click here.
  







Timeline

Mid November: The world is over.  The new CBA arrives.  It destroys the draft - the Pirates best chance of competing - and love, hope, and happiness. 

December 27: There is hope. A slightly late Christmas gift. Charlie reports the Pirates will get a draft bonus pool that will be around nearly 10 million dollars in 2012.  

February 20: Hope is again crushed. Jim Callis of Baseball America reports will only get $6,563,500 to sign their players.  That is without Derrek Lee - who will provide an extra $900,000 - but that's only if he signs a major league deal with another team, which looks doubtful.

February 21: After crying a lot, I attempt to argue why this sucks but there is still a glimmer of hope.  All is not lost.

Alright, here it goes.  The draft pool the Pirates will get to sign 11 players in the first 10 rounds is only ~6.5 million dollars.  Luckily for them, they can spend half that and still get a very good player with the #8 overall pick.  Last year, the #8 overall pick was prep shortstop Francisco Lindor to the Cleveland Indians.  I'm very high on Lindor, who signed for 2.9 million dollars.  The Indians could have also drafted Javier Baez, George Springer, or Taylor Jungmann.  In reality, each player was drafted within the next four picks and each player signed for an amount between 2.5 and 2.7 million dollars.  A similar pick by the Pirates will most likely leave them with 3.5 to 4.0 million dollars.  It's also possible the Pirates will actually be able to sign a player for less than that amount because there is some likelihood all draft bonuses will be suppressed; at least, that seems to be the goal and expectation of the new CBA.

Now, 3.5 to 4.0 million dollars won't allow the Pirates to sign another Josh Bell.  In fact, it won't even allow them to sign another Stetson Allie without some serious conversation tactics in the 3rd-10th rounds (read: lots of college seniors).  However, that doesn't mean the Pirates won't be able to add promising players.  There will be money for a Clay Holmes or a Zach Von Rosenberg.  More importantly, there will definitely be money for a guy like Nick Kingham, who at this point is ahead of the Holmes and Von Rosenberg on most rankings lists, including my own.  Kingham's bonus was "only" a measley $485,000.  This year, the Pirates added several promising players in a similar bonus range from the high school ranks.  Names include Colton Brewer (4th round - $240,00), Tyler Glasnow (5th round - $600,000), Jake Burnette (7th round - $550,000), and Jason Creasy (8th round - $250,000).  That list even omits Alex Dickerson, a college first baseman who signed for slot ($380,700).  Speaking of Dickerson, mentioning him provides foreshadowing how the Pirates will be okay in the big picture.  It's all about the draft in the future, 2013 and beyond.

This year, the Pirates will get an extra pick as a result of compensation for Ryan Doumit.  They could get a second extra pick from Lee, although that is seemingly unlikely now.  Having an extra pick is new territory for the Pirates.  It's been years since that last happened.  To remedy this, the Pirates have spent by providing huge overslot bonuses to tough signs.  Players not previously mentioned that fall into that category include Robbie Grossman, Quinton Miller, Stetson Allie, Colton Cain, and Zach Dodson. That option is now gone or at least crippled.  However, that's not as bad as it could seem. Take a look at this list.

Tyler Skaggs
Aaron Sanchez
Noah Snydergaar
Taijuan Walker
Mike Olt

Those five players were all drafted in the supplemental rounds in 2009 (Skaggs) and 2010 (last four) and signed for a bonus at or under one million dollars.  Tyrell Jenkins was also drafted in the supplemental round in 2010, although his bonus was 1.3 million dollars. Considering Lee's pick will/would be worth about $900,000, that means that the five players on the list signed for near slot. Four of those five and five of those six if Jenkins is included are prep high school pitchers.  Essentially, The Pirates should be able to continue to add the type of talent they have been adding; high upside prep pitchers through having extra picks, specifically in the supplemental round.  Enter the competitive balance lottery.

"For the first time, Clubs with the lowest revenues and in the smallest markets will
have an opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery.
B. The ten Clubs with the lowest revenues, and the ten Clubs in the smallest
markets, will be entered into a lottery for the six draft selections immediately
following the completion of the first round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning
the lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage.
C. The eligible Clubs that did not receive one of the six selections after the first
round, and all other payee Clubs under the Revenue Sharing Plan, will be
entered into a second lottery for the six picks immediately following the
completion of the second round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning the
lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage."

Summarizing, the Pirates have a great chance to obtain an additional pick every year, between either the first and second round or the second and third round.  Yet to be mentioned is another avenue in which the Pirates can get extra picks.

"Proceeds generated by the tax will be distributed to payee Clubs under the Revenue Sharing
Plan that do not exceed their Signing Bonus Pools. Draft picks that are forfeited by Clubs will
be awarded to other Clubs through a lottery in which a Club’s odds of winning will be based
on its prior season’s winning percentage and its prior season’s revenue. Only Clubs that do
not exceed their Signing Bonus Pools are eligible for the lottery."

As long as the Pirates stay within spending boundaries, they will garner additional chances to add extra picks.  It's yet to be determined how many, if any teams, will actually forfeit picks.  My guess is very few teams will considering how strict the penalties are, but if one team will do it, my money is on the Cubs under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.  Ultimately, the Pirates will definitely no longer be able to draft and sign a Josh Bell or Stetson Allie.  Even adding guys like Zach Von Rosenberg, Clay Holmes, and Colton Cain will become a rarity.  However, the Pirates should be able to keep drafting Nick Kingham's and then supplemental them with the occasional prep pitcher like Taijuan Walker or Aaron Sanchez.  College hitters like Mike Olt or the Pirates Alex Dickerson will also be an available option.  This will put more of a burden on player scouting and development, still a question mark for the Pirates front office.  Despite that, all hope is not lost.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

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