It’s unfortunate that Grant Balfour’s new contract with the Oakland Athletics is overshadowed by the fact that his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays, now own eleven of the first eighty-nine picks in next year’s draft, including nine before the start of the second round.  But what can you do?

Balfour, whose market may have been hampered by his Type A status, will earn $8.1 million over two years, which is significantly less than the $16.5 million over three years that Joaquin Benoit will make with the Detroit Tigers.

But he joins an underrated Oakland pitching staff that continues to look better and better.  Behind a young starting rotation that includes Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, the Athletics bullpen should be more than capable of keeping leads, with Balfour, closer Andrew Bailey, Brad Zeigler and lefty Craig Breslow.

There are four remaining free agents who could earn their former teams compensation and change the current draft order around slightly, but that’s including another former Tampa Bay Rays reliever, Chad Qualls, who is very close to making his deal with the San Diego Padres official.

A worst case scenario would give the Rays twelve of the first ninety-three picks and ten before the start of the second round.  The Rays could have more picks before round two than other teams will have by the conclusion of round ten.  Several experts have claimed that 2011 will be the deepest draft in recent memory.

Update: As part of their agreement with Balfour, the Athletics will not offer arbitration to Balfour at the end of the contract.  I wonder if he felt the pinch.

Comments (11)

  1. What I love most about this is that it APPEARS as though AA wants to run the Jays in the same way as the Rays. i.e. through the draft and establishing an “onion” team; as in one layer of the onion gets pulled away and reveals a fresh, often better and younger layer.

    Genius, I can’t wait until Jonah Keri’s book becomes the new “Moneyball” and takes MLB management by storm.

  2. That model might end after 2011 when the CBA is up – draft compensation is likely to be one of the issues at the forefront of the discussion.

  3. Potentially, but there will likely be some sort of compensation, plus there are rumours that draft picks could become trade-able if the compensation system is scraped all together. That would seemingly strengthen the model.

  4. I almost don’t want to happen – the analysis will just get way too damn confusing. Come every July people will be yelling – “how can you not trade (someone like) John Buck?! Victor Wang decided the surplus value of a 4th round draft pick is 750k, whereas he projects to provide 425k in surplus value over the last 8 weeks…”

  5. The inner layers of the onion are also more susceptible to damage, which has no bearing on this argument. FUNNY how you left THAT point out.

  6. Is the no arbitration clause allowed under the current MLB agreement? I thought those things were always hush hush, not public.

    So, and correct me if I’m wrong, between the Jays and the Rays we have about 17 of the top 100 picks? pretty close to 20% of the picks to 6% of the teams. Both in the same division. In a very deep draft. This could be interesting in a few years.

  7. Talking to Rays fans, they seem more concerned with what Jays are doing than Yanks and Red Sox.

    Good point from Jerry on upcoming CBA changes. I think that would almost be a good thing for the Rays, and somewhat for the Jays. Take advantage of system and just as other teams catch on, the rules change. They’re getting it good while the getting is good.

    MLBPA must hate the Rays.

  8. “Talking to Rays fans, they seem more concerned with what Jays are doing than Yanks and Red Sox.”

    They should be. the Yankees and Red Sox style can be beaten by the Tampa style, that’s clear…but how does Tampa compete with ‘we have the same approach as you except we can spend more?’

  9. @Beau…well baseball teams also aren’t round and although they can make you cry, it’s usually with real emotion and not with their potency.

    I also wouldn’t want to saute a baseball team and put it on a beef brisket.

  10. Mmmmmm. Sounds tasty!

    On another note, you sure can bat an onion around.

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