The 2012 MLB Rule IV draft will most likely be seen as a failure. Prior to the draft, we discussed on multiple occasions how the new rules put in place to limit spending on signing bonuses were supposedly a means of ensure the most talented players were drafted first. Instead, it’s opened the door for organizations to take advantage of a lack of leverage given to college seniors, while attempting to allocate the majority of their spending limits to their first few draft picks.

For the uninitiated, here is a summary of the new rules:

MLB has set a predetermined value for every pick, from $7.2 million for the number one choice to $100,000 for any pick after the 300th. These are the resulting slot allowances for every team, also with the amounts of money that each team spent in the first ten rounds of last year’s draft, as well as the overall amount they spent:

Team Picks Bonus Pool 2011/Top 10 2011/Total
Twins 13 $12,368,200 $5,072,300 $5,902,300
Astros 11 $11,177,700 $4,705,800 $5,545,800
Padres 14 $9,903,100 $10,345,600 $11,020,600
Cardinals 14 $9,131,100 $4,055,000 $4,554,000
Blue Jays 14 $8,830,800 $8,990,000 $10,996,500
Athletics 13 $8,469,500 $2,612,300 $3,067,300
Mariners 11 $8,223,400 $9,840,000 $11,330,500
Cubs 12 $7,933,900 $6,559,950 $11,994,550
Mets 12 $7,151,400 $5,070,000 $6,782,500
Red Sox 12 $6,884,800 $10,048,700 $10,978,700
Orioles 10 $6,826,900 $7,282,400 $8,432,100
Brewers 12 $6,764,700 $6,793,300 $7,509,300
Reds 12 $6,653,800 $3,701,400 $6,378,900
Rockies 12 $6,628,300 $3,709,900 $3,967,900
Rangers 13 $6,568,200 $3,021,500 $4,193,000
Pirates 11 $6,563,500 $16,445,700 $17,005,700
Royals 10 $6,101,500 $11,405,000 $14,066,000
White Sox 11 $5,915,100 $2,126,300 $2,786,300
Dodgers 11 $5,202,800 $2,978,800 $3,509,300
Marlins 10 $4,935,100 $3,655,000 $4,135,000
Phillies 12 $4,916,900 $3,855,300 $4,689,800
Indians 10 $4,582,900 $6,362,500 $8,225,000
Nationals 10 $4,436,200 $14,551,100 $15,002,100
Yankees 11 $4,192,200 $4,202,500 $6,324,500
Giants 10 $4,076,400 $5,021,000 $6,266,000
Braves 10 $4,030,800 $2,522,200 $3,735,700
Rays 10 $3,871,000 $11,309,400 $11,482,900
Diamondbacks 10 $3,818,300 $11,161,500 $11,930,000
Tigers 9 $2,099,300 $1,815,200 $2,878,700
Angels 8 $1,645,700 $2,656,600 $3,318,100
Total 338 $189,903,500 $191,876,250 $228,009,050

Information from Baseball America.

If a team fails to sign a player drafted in the first ten rounds, that draft pick’s allotment comes out of the team’s total budget. Teams that go over the total budget up to 5% in signing bonuses will face a 75% tax. Teams that go over slot by 5-10% face a 75% tax and the loss of a first rounder. Teams that go over slot by 10-15% face a 100% tax and the loss of a first and second rounder. Teams that exceed slot by 15% or more face a 100% tax and the loss of two first rounders. Teams that don’t exceed their draft spending limit will have a chance to obtain picks from teams that over-spent.

After the first day of the draft, with the Toronto Blue Jays selecting Matthew Smoral in the supplemental round, a player who promised to be a tough sign considering the amount it would take to sign the team’s two first round picks, I wondered if the organization, perhaps like the Pittsburgh Pirates, was prepared to embrace the penalty set out for going over allotment.

It might make sense. A team could punt it’s first two rounds of picks in order to sign all of the expensive players that other teams concerned with their allotments had bypassed. It would certainly be risky, but there’s never a shortage of high school prospects who scare off teams because of their bonus demands and commitments to college programs. Even with the 100% tax, the draft often proves to be a remarkably better area in which to invest than free agency.

However, on the second day of the draft, it’s become a lot more clear, what the Blue Jays are actually up to.

I’ll let J.J. Cooper of Baseball America explain:

The draft rules set up in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement were designed to hold down signing bonuses and get teams to line up their draft boards based more on talent and less on a player’s signability.

On Monday night, that ideal held true. Players were largely picked based on where teams saw them on their draft boards. And while Stanford righthander Mark Appel’s slide added drama, the draft didn’t see a Jacob Turner, Josh Bell or Nick Castellanos-like slide, where a premium talent fell a long way to a team willing to meet his significant asking price. The draft board largely lined up based on talent.

That wasn’t true on Tuesday as the draft wore on, however. It became clear that for many teams, the second half of the top 10 rounds was less about best player available and much more about the best player willing to accept a small bonus.

Cooper points out that while teams might have appeared to be aggressive in the first rounds of the draft, they were incredibly conservative in the later rounds.

The Blue Jays were as aggressive as anyone in the first three rounds of the draft, selecting premium high school talents in Matt Smoral (supplemental first round) and Anthony Alford (third round). Both could have asking prices well beyond their draft slots. But after taking Alford in the third round, Toronto selected seven straight college seniors.

College seniors have little bargaining leverage. If the Blue Jays work out well-below market deals for some or all of those college seniors, they could use the extra money to sign Smoral or Alford. The Blue Jays’ total bonus pool is $8,830,800. The seven Blue Jays’ picks from the fourth through 10th round carry an allotment of $1.244 million. If the Blue Jays hypothetically signed those seven players for $200,000 total, that would be $1 million that could be used to sign Smoral or Alford.

If we look at the past, this strategy makes an incredible amount of sense. The team is ultimately dealing with likelihoods. It’s more likely that a player selected earlier than later will be better. In fact, the importance of this chart can’t be overstated in this case:

What selection would you prefer to compromise in this case? An earlier pick or a later pick? The choice is rather obvious. Depth isn’t nearly as important as talent for the Toronto Blue Jays. And nor should it be, given the history of the development of baseball players. Put simply, the Blue Jays are selecting top heavy in their picks as opposed to going for an all around good draft. And it’s a strategy that’s pretty hard to argue against.

In the National Post, John Lott delves into some of the specifics, going over the Jays picks in the fourth to tenth rounds.

Comments (129)

  1. What would happen if the Jays have intentions of signing a type A free agent in the off season, meaning they would lose their first rounder. Could they not go over budget with their draft money this year knowing that they wouldn’t have a first round pick next year anyway?

    • I would guess that qualified players would get treated the same way multiple Type As have been treated in the past. They’d just lose their 2nd rounder to the player’s former team instead.

      • There’s no such thing as Type A or B anymore. If they do that though, their overall budget decreases as well. See the Angels from the list above.

        • Signing 7 players for a total of 200,000 even for 4th to 10th rounds,seems unrealistic.
          Does that confirm the theory that they are “punting” some of those picks?

          • Doesn’t seem that unrealistic. Many college seniors of the ilk that the Jays drafted sign for $10-$20K under normal circumstances.

          • radar, i’d be surprised if they got a combined $200k… alot of these guys will sign for $5k.

          • @ Ryan

            I thought you might be misinformed so I looked it up.
            Check rounds 4 to 10.

          • The whole strategy, though, is to effectively ‘punt’ rounds 4-10. The Jays drafted players who would, if talent were the only consideration, be picked in far later rounds, in order to sign them well below slot.

            So the comparison here should be signing bonuses for players drafted in round 20, if I’m understanding the strategy correctly.

          • You are a bit confused I think, and yes, they are punting all of those picks. The amounts players drafted in rounds 4-10 signed for in the past is completely irrelevant here. The Jays drafted players that would typically be drafted in rounds 30-40 in rounds 4-10 this year, so they could sign them for well below slot (i.e. in the 20-50k range).

          • @ Jefferee

            The thing is,at least from those who I’ve talked to,that the seniors balance the bonus money vs a carreer in there chosen field.10 or 25K and an outside chance of advancing isn’t enough to chase a dream, for some, at least.
            Most picks in the later rounds are referred to as “courtesy” picks. No real intention of signing them or the players accepting anything..

          • @RADAR:

            Is there some kind of minimum requirement for how long a player has to spend in minor-league ball before he counts as signed for bonus pool purposes?

            I suspect that the Jays would be perfectly happy to sign the guys they drafted in rounds 4-10 for $20k each and release them immediately to go do whatever, if signing the contract was all that matters. But I don’t know if there’s any other hoops to jump through.

          • @ jefferee 12:02

            I don’t have a clue ( a lot of people will be happy I admitted that).Hitting uncharted teritory and out of my experience level.

          • Here’s the problem, if you are one of these guys drafted late, you know the team will sign you for whatever it takes as long as the amount you sign for gives them some extra money to spend on someone else.

            For instance, if the team drafted me and offered me $5,000, even if I wasn’t worth that, a good agent would respond saying something like, he will take $60,000 and no less. The team would eventually be forced to cave to this players demands if they wanted the extra $40,000 of cap space to spend on someone else.

          • @Peter DeMarco,

            i’m sure that these issues are addressed BEFORE draft day. so the question will be asked of the advisor… what is it going to take to sign ‘senior x’? you can bet your bottom dollar that the club has a number in hand before drafting that player.

            secondly, agents are not going to sacrifice their reputations with the clubs for the sake of 50k for a senior sign after the draft. most of these guys will be looking for millions for a blue chipper with the same club at some point in the future.

            i would be shocked if the guys from round 4 through 10 don’t sign quickly and for relative peanuts. although it is technically against the rules, these deals have probably been in place for some time.

        • That’s why I wrote “qualified players”

          • Check the link Joshua.

          • radar, you are missing the point completely. the guys the jays drafted in rounds 4-10 this year are not comparable to the guys that went in rounds 4-10 under the old rules. these are guys that would normally go undrafted or get drafted in the last few rounds in order to fill out rookie league rosters.

          • @ Ryan

            You may be correct about me missing the point.
            So you’re saying that the guys the Jays drafted in 4-10 are normally not drafted or are so bad that they’ll accept just about any offer?Seems like a tough sell.
            That sorta goes with the theory that they will be punted,which answers my question.
            Guess we’ll have the answer in the next couple of months after the signing deadline.

          • radar, it is probably a tough sell for alot of guys… but the jays scouts would be motivated to find seniors that would sign for peanuts.

            scout – what are your plans for the future?
            player – starting grad school in the fall.
            scout – what are you doing for the summer?
            player – looking for a job.
            scout – how about we give you $5k ($10k whatever) to come and play rookie ball for a couple months?

          • @ RADAR

            Checked your link. Seniors taken 4-7:
            4th Round (pick 127) Brodie Greene to Reds – $112,500
            5th Round (152) Matt den Dekker to Mets – $110,000
            6th Round (193) Bryan Holaday to Tigers – $115,000
            7th Round (212) Jeff Walters to Mets – $50,000
            7th Round (225) Matt Hauser to Twins – $45,000

            So that’s the top five most talented seniors in the draft and the money they got in a system where theoretically a team could pay whatever it wished.

            Number of seniors rise a bit in next three rounds, so lets look at them mostly in aggregate:
            8th Round – 5 seniors taken ranging from $45,000 to $25,000
            9th Round – 7 seniors taken ranging from $40,000 to $20,000, plus notable exception (274) Josh Spence to Padres for $100,000
            10th round – only one senior taken (317) Aaron Senne to Marlins for $25,000

            Outside of Spence, that makes 13 seniors signing for no more than $45,000 in the last 3 rounds. If you include the first 5 drafted, 15 seniors signed for $50,000 or less, and only 4 signed for more (in each case, $100,000 or more). Again, that is in a system with no hard cap.

            This year the first senior off the boards was James Ramsey to the Cardinals in the 1st Round in what is considered a bit of a reach. By the time the Jays picked there first senior in the 4th Round, he was already the 7th senior taken. The next senior the Jays took was the 10th gone. Next 15th, then 24th, then 27th, then 34th, then 46th. A total of 53 seniors were taken in the first 10 rounds, an increase of 279% from the draft you linked to.

            Given the draft compensations in the 2010 draft, adjusting for hard slot depression of value and the relative value of such seniors compared to their equals, I would say we can expect bonuses between $10,000 to $40,000 for the seven, and averaged out $200,000 seems a conservative but realistic expectation for how much could be spent on those seniors.

          • I would imagine the Jays would chat with these players before the draft to make sure these guys would be willing to sign for 10 or 20k or whatever it is.

          • @ James

            Agree. None were ranked in the top 500. Our 4th Round pick was previously drafted in the 38th Round in 2011 by Texas. Would expect them to have deals in place on all. Wouldn’t it be funny if our 11th or 12th Round picks signed for more individually than our 4-10 in total.

            • I would expect that all of 4-10 will sign for 25K or less based on talent level and previous bonuses. 200k seems about right. Players taken in the 11-15th round were high schoolers and non-senior collegians. They will get closer to 100k

    • There’s no such thing as “type A’ anymore. Teams have to make a qualifying offer to be eligible for draft pick compensation, expected to fall in the $12-13MM range for the coming offseason.

      I don’t think they get a mulligan on that, either. I’m sure they’ll lose their top draft pick available.

      • No one loses draft picks any more, I thought. QOs just lead to league-provided compensation, a la the NFL. Happy to be corrected of I’m wrong.

  2. So if they can only sign one, would you rather Smoral or Alford? Or do they have a realistic chance at getting both of these kids?

  3. I wonder how this will all play out in the end—I’d like to see if this strategy is still being implemented 5+ years down the road. But, geez, I sure do have a lot of faith in AA and can’t argue with his risky draft picks. I can’t see Smoral + Alford getting signed from what I’ve read, but I guess it would be pretty sweet to get such high-end talent even though I don’t know any of these guys.

  4. Recent comments by Alford seem to indicate a possible softening of his ‘will not sign’ position.

    • What has he said?

      • Alford was excited to be drafted and was enjoying the moment with family, but he expressed that football is his first passion and was undecided on what he wanted to do, preferring to let the process play out.

        “I didn’t think it was going to be that early because I told everyone I wanted to go to college and play football,” Alford said about being a third-round selection. “I just want to enjoy [getting drafted], I don’t want to make any quick decisions.”

  5. these draft rules are un-American.

    artificial spending limits, allotment pools, over spending tax and penalties. this reminds me of a carbon cap and trade system. pfft.

    it’s a sad day in my book that baseball is being run by a bunch of hippies.

    p.s. fuck you if you rode your bike to work today.

    • “p.s. fuck you if you rode your bike to work today.”

      You just pissed off Stoeten.

    • Football is the most American of the sports and by far the most socialist of systems. It is often hailed for its ability to create league-wide economic health benefiting all. Its one of the most interesting contradictions in American culture.

      • That’s always made me giggle. So many capitalist loving republican types love the NFL, too. With the hard cap, non guaranteed contracts, maximum revenue sharing etc it’s the most hippie/socialist league out there. It’s also been my experience their fans don’t like being reminded of that fact.

      • Ernie Whitt Watches the Daily Show?!?!? Awesome!

    • Don’t worry Amazing. I ran that hippy bike rider right off the road in my hummer.

    • Salary cap is un-American? Salary cap is as capitalistic as you can get. It helps small market teams to be competitive and be profitable so MLB can maximize its profit.
      Comparing salary cap with carbon tax is dumb. Carbon tax has been put in place to act as a deterrent and prevent green house gas emission, while salary cap is about utility maximization.

      • You don’t think that league-wide mandated rules that limit the individual franchise to maximize its profit are more analogous to socialism than capitalism? Amassing wealth happens in both Capitalist and Socialist systems. Its the redistribution of that wealth which is the biggest difference.

      • Ever heard of free enterprise ?

        • I think I ate your chocolate covered squirrel

        • A good comparison to MLB is probably like a fast food chain. Franchisees own their own place but are still governed by the franchisor. And the franchisor will never let a McDonalds down the street undercut the McDonalds one block away by price cutting.

          Baseball drafts have become a way for different MLB “franchises” to price-cut (though it works in reverse, it is an issue of overpaying, same thing in the end).

          The only “free market” is baseball itself – anyone could try and start their own league.

      • Actually, a salary cap represents a market control (price ceiling) instituted from above which provides a redistribution of resources to the disadvantaged. This would be considered the sport equivalent of rent ceilings. Maximization of resource utilization and efficiencies across the market is not necessarily capitalistic, its just good business through central planning (i.e. a form of socialism).
        If an absolutist capitalist model of maximization of resource utility were being pursued, then there would be no luxury tax, revenue sharing or consideration of the competitiveness of small market teams. Rather, the most effective competitors (read: the richest) would be allowed to develop a monopoly on the resources for which they compete (i.e. talent) in order to reap the greatest rewards (i.e. pennants and profits), which they would be seen to deserve by being the most effective competitors.

        That being said, what’s wrong with a little redistributive justice?

  6. I think more than any of the drafts of the last few years (since I’ve been following them really), I’ll be waiting more intently for the signing deadline. It’ll be interesting to see how many of these top four round guys they’re able to sign. I’m thinking they MUST think they’re going to land all of them (or else they’d lose that money from their pool.) Alford is probably the biggest risk , which is probably why they took him where they did (they’d only loose about a half million from their pool if they can’t get him done, and they’ll still get the pick back next year.) I’ll be pretty stoked if they somehow land all of these guys.

  7. Its almost comical that MLB thought that they would be able to set down some hard rules and that magically the culture of MLB front offices would change.

    Its baseball! The only way you win is to figure out how to use the system to your advantage. That used to mean picking up scrap heap players that would net draft picks when they sign elsewhere.. Now it means jobbing College Seniors to pad the amount spent on the true talents at the top of the board.

    I just am really glad that Anthopolous is so agro when it comes to the draft. Its a beautiful thing to watch. The draft was so boring but every time the Jays picked all of the pundits freaked out because you could see what the Jays were doing and how few teams understood the new rules by comparison. Who knows how some of this will pan out, but at the very least the Jays have put themselves in the position that it could pan out extremely well.

    • I don’t think anyone is actually jobbing college seniors. These guys that are getting taken would have been round 40 talents in the old system and would have commanded the same bonus money they’re getting now. The only difference is that they can now brag to their friends that they got selected the 4th round of the MLB draft.

      I imagine that AA confirmed a bonus number with anyone they selected in rounds 4-10 to ensure they’re taking someone that would sign for a pittance; thus ensuring they would have the most money to play with to sign picks in the first few rounds.

  8. My little puppy dog Couscous was smart as two whips. In the morning he used to bring me my sandals.

  9. Stoeten tweeted last night that through the first 10 rounds, the Jays selected 7 college seniors. 3 teams selected 5, and then the next highest was 3. It’s kinda ridiculous what they’re doing to the draft. It’s saving the owners money, but if you’re not getting the best talent you can into the league, what’s the point?

    The league should be rewarding teams that want to spend the most money on the draft. It’s not like they punish teams for spending too much in FA.

    • Do you forget that there are Owner’s that want to be able to be competitive by NOT spending on the draft? That’s where the changes came from. They were all in Selig’s ear. Unfortunately, these Owners don’t understand how it’s making MLB less attractive to the good athletes.

    • Luxury tax.

    • “The league should be rewarding teams that want to spend the most money on the draft.”

      Uh please no. Free agency already allows baseball to be ruled by big-market teams. At least let teams like the Rays have a chance.

      • Did you look at the chart? Rays, D-Backs, Pirates, Royals all spent a ton in the draft last year. Same with the Nationals.

        The draft is the one spot where the Rays DID have a chance. What are they supposed to do now if they can’t spend in the draft? 10 million in the draft is much better spent than on an overpriced FA.

      • The draft being the most cost effective way of acquiring talent, it’s the small market teams who are most effected by rules limiting spending and keeping talent out.

  10. So… is this tweet real? Has 882 followers, looks legit:

    MSmoral23: Off to Dunedin!

    • Wilner was tweeting him on that account, so I have to assume so. Unless that’s where they’re going to hash out a contract, but who knows.

      That’s exciting.

    • he probably forgot to add: for a medical! Tinnish has been specific that they won’t even be talking to the draftees beyond a quick heyhowareya until after the end of the last round.

    • Probably just for a medical and to meet with some Jays guys. Not to sign.

      But seems enthusiastic, which is always good. Maybe he wants to sign!

      And I’m also surprised he is already going, it seems fast, which I guess is good.

    • Reading some of his tweets doesn’t sound like he will be a tough sign. He seems really excited to be drafted, and no mention of College.

      • I think these draftees are a little slow overall. They are still playing hard to get. The better angle to play is “easy to get”. Then you get drafted higher up with teams hoping you will sign under slot and save them money for tougher picks.

        Then once drafted, that’s when you should suddenly “be thinking of college”. Now the team doesn’t want to see you go and waste a year of their time, so you get your slotted pay – but it is a higher slot than all the posturing idiots that pushed themselves down.

      • I hope you’re right … to be fair though Beede was pretty pumped too last year.

  11. I think major league baseball forgot one key factor when making these new rules. They forgot the greed and that the Scott Boras’s of the world were “advising” these kids. It would be simple to follow these rules if players had to declare for the draft and just got what they got based on when they were picked.

  12. I knew AA would find a way to game the system.

    If I were a high school kid getting drafted right now I would forgo college and sign the dotted line. With this new system the leverage is totally gone from the college kids and teams will play hardball with them so they can spend the money elsewhere.

    Being seniors I would guess that their bonuses will be very small. It is sign now or don’t get a bonus as a FA time.

  13. College seniors have NEVER had any leverage when it comes to negotiations. It’s always been ‘Here’s this money, take it or leave it’.

  14. My quick math…
    If the Blue Jays’ Bonus Pool is $8,830,800 + 5% (no penalty, only tax) = $9,272,340
    And we assume they sign their 7 college seniors drafted in rounds 4-10 for a collective $272,340 (for simplicity).
    Then, not including anyone drafted outside of the first 10 rounds, they have $9,000,000 to sign: Davis, Stroman, Smoral, Nay, Gonzalez, Alford and Dejong.
    That’s an average of $1.29M per draft pick.
    This is, of course, without giving up 1st or 2nd round picks for being more than 5% above their Bonus Pool.

    • But they also miss out on a chance to steal other team’s draft picks when they go 5-15% over budget.

      I wonder if anyone is going to do that?

      • Great point. Seeing as AA has always wanted to add as many “free” draft picks as possible, I’m sure they’ll weigh the cost of the 5% overage versus the chance to steal another team’s penalized draft pick.
        Everyone seemed to be in agreement that no teams would go 5-15% over budget, but Parkes raised this point over the last few days: maybe some team will think it’s worth it.

    • To add to your quick math, slot for those picks are:
      17 $2,000,000.00 DJ Davis
      22 $1,800,000.00 Stroman
      50 $1,000,000.00 Smoral
      58 $884,100.00 Nay
      60 $857,200.00 Gonzalez
      81 $620,300.00 DeJong
      112 $424,400.00 Alford
      Total slot for rounds 4-10 is $1,244,800.

      If, say, everyone but Smoral & Alford come in at slot, and they save $1M, and presume add in the 5% overage where they don’t lose picks – $440K, then for Alford & Smoral they’ve got just under $2.9M total for the two of them. Slit evenly, that gives them each a bonus equivalent to the 36th pick (~1.4M slot).

      Slot values from:

      • Holy shit with the typos.. should read:

        If, say, everyone but Smoral & Alford come in at slot, and they save $1M from rounds 4-10, add in the 5% overage where they don’t lose picks – $440K, then for Alford & Smoral they’ve got just under $2.9M total for the two of them. Split evenly, that gives them each a bonus equivalent to the 36th pick (~1.4M slot).

        • I think they can sign Davis and Stroman a little under slot, and move that to Smoral. Smoral 1M for slot plus (600K-1M saved on Stroman/Davis) s/b enough to sign him

          Sounds like DeJong is going to get in the 800-900K range from his interviews, so that will come from the senior college savings. That leaves Alford who will need at least 2M so I don’t know how he will get signed.

        • Thanks! This is good. Wonder if this is enough $. Maybe they can save a little money on Nay as they came up on the board for that pick? There were rumors of pre-draft agreements for the first two picks as well. AA must think he can get Smoral/Alford done.

          • It sounds like Nay might come in a bit under – in reading a couple quotes, I don’t get the impression he’d seriously consider going to school instead. (

            If they can sign Smoral w/ savings from Davis & Stroman as Stanley suggested, then they have about 1.9M left for Alford. That seems like the best of best case scenarios… fingers crossed. (And I can totally relate to Stoeten’s piece about all of this being a crap shoot about which I know absolutely nothing… I kinda just like working with the numbers)

  15. What is the relationship between bonus money and minor league salaries. Are there imposed restrictions on salaries?

    Is there anything in place to prevent a team saying “your signing bonus is only 100K, but we will give you a 1st year salary of $500K to make up the difference.”?

    • yes. every player in the minors has a “minor league contract,” and the salaries are set by the MLB based on service time. Any pro contract signed with the player beyond that would have to be considered part of the signing.

  16. Don’t the seniors have some leverage of their own though? Especially the ones drafted in the higher rounds (4th, 5th etc). Their agents know if they don’t sign, the Jays loses their allotment from their pool. So really, let’s say the Jays allotment for their 4th rounder is, say, $400,000…..the guy drafted in that position knows that the Jays lose that much if they don’t sign him….so it’s likely he can hold out for, say, $300K, knowing that even at that amount, the Jays are still freeing up $100K for another player… opposed to nothing if they don;t sign him.


    • But these guys are barely pro-ballers. The Jays can play hardball and say, here’s $20k, take it or leave it. If that player doesn’t take it, he has no other options to play pro ball other than trying to make someones system as a FA and he’ll get zero bonus. $20k is a lot of money to pass up for some of these guys when you have no other options.

      I guess you could play that game but you’re risking AA calling your bluff.

      • I guess he could do that…it would be a game of chicken.

        But for it to work consistently, I would imagine AA will need to let a few guys go unsigned and lose that allotment for that year, in order to set a precedence for negotiations in future drafts.

      • And leverage works in funny ways. It’s not just what the PLAYER is worth, but what the player is worth, to the team. If you have a middle, college shitballer who might actually only be worth $10K based on talent….but his worth to the team (in terms of the slot money they add to the pool) if they can get him signed is worth, say, $150,000, then, ipso facto, that player is now worth $150,000.

        And a good negotiator would exploit that. On the other hand, I doubt many of these shit ballers have very good representation. Although I guess it’s possible we could see niche agents who specialize in that kind of player moving forward….the guy who gets drafted way above his talent level in the hopes of signing him cheaply.

      • He could play hardball and hold out for it, but the players drafted are not prospects and getting any money 10K is much more then they would have ever expected. On top of that these guys were never expected to draft thus they I would assume they do not have agents.

    • This might be the greatest thing ever to happen to college shitballers.

      For the Jays, there’s a tradeoff between cap space and money. What a dollar of cap space is worth to the Jays in terms of real money remains to be seen, but I’m sure they’ve got a number. I’d venture a guess (based on international FA signings) that they’d pay maybe $5 for a dollar of cap soace.

      If the player knows how much money the Jays are willing to trade for a dollar of cap room, then the deal gets done at the price where the benefit to the Jays in cap room is balanced by the cost in money. Saying a dollar of cap space is worth $5 means $1.2MM of pool should mean the Jays get $200K in additional cap by signing shitballers in rounds 4-7 if my math is right.

      There’s a big assumption above, namely that the shitballers from rounds 4-7 are solely interested in maximising their signing bonuses and have no real desire to play baseball. But now that they’re worth a bunch of cap space in addition to their miniscule potential, I don’t think they’re going to keep getting signed for $20k. I’d guess something more like $50k based on…absolutely nothing.

    • You’re right, but don’t you think the Jays probably would have drafted guys they can be sure would take it? Like … if they’re just scrubs anyway, they probably chatted with them beforehand about what the players would be willing to accept.

  17. I don’t get what MLB was trying to accomplish with their limits on draft spending.
    If a team would rather spend an additional 15 million on draft picks rather than a CJ Wilson type pitcher, they should be allowed to.
    But in a way, I’m glad for this dopey system because AA seems to be ahead of the curve on manipulating the system!

    • They’re trying to put a limit on rapidly rising signing bonuses.

      The owners, collectively, don’t want to spend a lot on SB’s, but individually, when it’s your team with the #1 pick, you’re going to do whatever you need too to sign him.

      In other words, they are trying to save the owners from themselves. Which is the purpose, really, of any type of spending cap in pro sports.

      • I wonder if longer term they’re trying to create a disincentive for kids to follow through who are thinking about going to college. They’ll create a whole class of younger, less educated, but richer failed athletes.

        So initially there will be some awkwardness as the system takes hold, but longer-term the kids will know to just take their slot allocation.

        What will this new system do to NCAA baseball??\

    • They are trying to save the money for the guys actually playing in the league not the guys who may one day crack the roster. On top of this they were trying to prevent NYY’s from getting top 10 talent in rounds 4-6 as they are willing to give 3-5M bonuses that teams like Pitt, Milwaukee, Oakland in the past could not afford.

  18. And this is why I think the MLB draft is so much more interesting than other league drafts. There`s actual strategy. Other drafts it`s just best player available according to each team`s needs. GMs get lucky with great picks and unlucky with busts. MLB drafts require forethought and strategy, like a game of 3-player chess if you will because you have to react to what the other teams are taking off the board and who`s available and how much money you have and are the picks signable. Even if you don`t give a hoot about the actual picks, the negotiations must be fascinating to read about.

  19. Read half way through the comments and decided i didnt want to revisit my university politics/economics days so stopped reading.
    Just hit the ball and throw strikes.

  20. It’s true enough – the major sports salary and drafting systems are incredibly socialist and monopolistic. Nothing wrong with that, per se – Congress recognises as much and has protected MLB’s unique position for decades. A similar system in the UK Premier League was outlawed by the European Unions decades ago – which the main reason the Blackburn Rovers are never going to win the Premiership.

    What’s kind of disgraceful, though, is how the Players’ Association consistently fails to protect the interests of the majority of ball players for the sake of the tiny upper echelon of stars. This CBA has had the effect of driving down salaries for draftees globally, while totally putting the shaft to the weakest prospects and those with the least leverage to bargain. What were they thinking? For the vast majority of professional ball players, who have years of financial and job insecurity ahead of them before they even get a sniff of the show (if they’re lucky) and at best a minor pay-off when they do, this is a major kick in the nuts.


    There are a lot of things, teams, ideas, and people that are screaming to be told to fuck right off.

    Fuck Off Guy, once again, I’m calling you out!

    Fuck Off Guy, your momma’s so fat when she fell down, she rocked herself to sleep trying to get back up again.

  22. If the Jays want to draft someone with no MLB future who they can be SURE will accept a 4th round $5k signing bonus for this rigging of the system, I offer myself.

    I guarantee I will accept the 5k.

  23. Hey DP! Congrats on the Grantland mention re. your comments about the man in white.

    Maybe one day you will get to meet Katie Baker over there and let her in on the unknown fact in America that some Canadians *loathe* hockey because it drowns out coverage of good olde timey baseball!!

  24. the chart you present also seems to suggest that the drafting system wasn’t broken because good talent was drafted early as desired — but the system was broken if high talent slips because teams with more money are able to meet their advisor’s demands. of course, the chart itself seems to suggest that good gms would employ a circular logic. i.e. this pick must be better [albeit maybe a higher risk] because he was drafted in the earlier rounds. Therefore, it’s a better risk to draft me in the higher rounds because of your chart even though i am horrible at baseball and a huge risk to learn how to play properly.

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