If you ask Bud Selig, and people do, he’ll tell you that Major League Baseball’s draft needs to set hard levels for maximum signing bonuses based on what selection a player is drafted with.
I believe in slotting and I believe in a worldwide draft. I think it’s important. I think the draft has worked, but I think there are some things that have happened in the last five or six years that are worrisome.
The worrisome element that Selig speaks of is watching MLB’s competitive balance shift due to only richer teams being able to afford the signing bonuses of the best players. The worrisome element that Selig really means is the increased negotiation rights that incoming players have over MLB owners.
There remain two obstacles in the way of me ever supporting the idea of a hard slot for Rule IV draftees: 1) Baseball is more competitive than ever; and 2) Signing bonuses for incoming players continue to represent one of baseball’s biggest bargains.
The only thing that Bud Selig wants more than the game of baseball to thrive is for the owners of MLB teams to be pleased with him while it thrives. You know what MLB owners aren’t currently pleased with? Having to pay seventeen year olds millions of dollars to sign with their team. He’ll use the excuse of competitive balance, but that has nothing to do with his motivation to set caps on signing bonuses. Baseball is enjoying a time of spectacular balance, and teams are using the draft to get better. Look at the Tampa Bay Rays or future Kansas City Royals.
Yesterday, we compared the amount of money that the Toronto Blue Jays will spend at the draft to what the Detroit Tigers, a team constantly crying poor, paid for the services of Joaquin Benoit, a not particularly dominant middle reliever coming off a good season. The $16.5 million that the Tigers invested in Benoit barely caused an eye lash to be batted, yet if that number of dollars was spent on draft picks, it would set team records for the most money spent. Historically, guess which investment would prove more valuable to its team? It’s money spent on draft picks, not middle relievers.
Aside from any philosophical beliefs that you or I might have about the free market, it’s actually more beneficial for teams to spend money on the draft than it is to pour it down the free agent market toilet bowl. What’s happened is that owners have given up attempting to sway the MLB players union into accepting a salary cap, or god forbid, a cap on free agent signings, and so they’ve instead focused their attention on implementing it for those who haven’t yet joined the union.
It’s all a gigantic misconception that they’ve created. If teams wanted to, they could easily shuffle their budgets so as to increase the amount of money they have to spend at the draft simply by not overpaying for free agent middle relievers and their like. However, it seems easier for the teams to simply cry afoul over richer teams being able to spend more than they can. The reality of the situation is that the so called hard done by teams need to shift their focus, not set more restrictions.
And The Rest
My favourite story from yesterday: tracking down photographers from the most amazing Willy Mays catch ever. Look at how deep in the park Mays came up with that ball.
Getting Blanked celebrated its 1000th post yesterday.
He’s back! Vernon Wells came off the DL for the Los Angeles Angels and proceeded to go zero for three with a strike out. AL pitchers are glad to have him back.
Jose Bautista is fending off the advances of Robinson Cano in the race for the most All-Star votes, while Brian McCann has passed Buster Posey and the race for starting first baseman heats up in the NL All-Star balloting.
The Oakland A’s have put starting pitcher Bret Anderson on the Disabled List, despite not knowing exactly what’s wrong with his arm. The Athletics ace has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews.
Meanwhile, prospect Jemile Weeks made his debut for the A’s last night.
Trevor Gretzky, son of some famous boots with knives guy, was drafted by the Chicago Cubs yesterday. The likelihood of him signing or going to San Diego State is unknown.
The Tampa Bay Rays owner talks about sustaining the team with current attendance levels.
Denard Span is feeling dizzy after a collision at home plate. This is just what the Minnesota Twins really needed right now.
Bonus video: Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde talks about being Jose Valverde.