It—as the kids say—“tickles my fancy” that no matter what MLB owners try to do to fix an unbroken system, they just manage to screw it up more. You’d think a group of people collectively worth the GDP of Vietnam might have slightly more brain power than the owners seem to exhibit when it comes to their dealings with the amateur draft. Then again, maybe you wouldn’t think that.
Yesterday evening, as the deadline to sign drafted players passed, the last of the unsigned first-rounders were snapped up; fourth overall pick Kevin Gausman signed with the Orioles for $4.32-million, 16th overall pick Lucas Giolito signed with the Nationals for $2.925-million, the Marlins inked ninth overall pick Andrew Heaney to a $2.6-million deal, and the Rays got their first-rounder, Richie Shaffer, for $1.71-million.
The only first-round pick that did not sign was eighth overall selection Mark Appel, who fell to the Pirates when the industry consensus pegged him as the first overall pick. In a matter of minutes, Appel went from a slot bonus of $7.2-million assigned to the first overall selection, to one of just $2.9-million afforded to the eighth overall selection. By moving money around in the rest of their draft, the Pirates were able to offer Appel $3.8-million without losing a draft pick in next year’s draft, but Appel turned it down.
Whether or not you think it wise for a pitcher to turn down that much money and go back for his senior year of college—where risk of injury or ineffectiveness can plummet one’s draft stock—it’s clear that the new system put in place during last fall’s round of collective bargaining between the players and the owners isn’t doing what was intended.
Not only did Appel (likely a top-three talent at the very least) slip to number eight, but a small market team—the Pirates—couldn’t give him the money he wanted because of the new system, thereby spoiling their first round pick. Previous to this system, the amateur draft was one area where smaller market teams could compete with large market teams for the best available talent. They couldn’t spend nine-figures on a superstar in free agency, but they could conceivably spend a lot more in the draft and build a consistent winner through a strong player development system filled with young, high ceiling (and also cheap and controllable) players. With strict penalties levied on teams that go overslot, this avenue for contention has shrunk.
The Pirates do receive the ninth overall pick in next year’s draft as compensation, but according to ESPN’s Keith Law (behind a pay-wall) and others, the 2013 draft class appears to be even weaker than this year’s. Law also opines about the new system’s failings for both the teams and the players, which again begs the question: Why are the owners so intent on keeping the cost of the draft—and for the matter international signings—down? In comparison to the much larger cost of Major League salaries, the draft and the international market represent ways in which frugal teams can better themselves without breaking the bank. It seems as though the owners are cutting off their nose to spite their face.
If Appel pitches well again next year at Stanford, there’s no reason (with a potentially weaker draft class) that he can’t improve his draft stock and garner a larger bonus next year, but there’s always a risk, especially with pitchers, that an injury or just random ineffectiveness could become factors that cause him to fall well below the eighth overall pick.
At least Pirates fans are taking the news well.
And the rest:
Welcome to Earth 0 [Few Sairdrervice, Bletting Ganked]. Will the Orioles try harder to acquire pitching help now that their best pitcher (HA!) Jason Hammel is hurt?
The Yankees grab some outfield insurance by signing Kosuke Fukudome [Darren Kritzer, Getting Blanked].
Jacoby Ellsbury’s back after missing 79 games with a shoulder injury [Adam Berry, MLB.com]. And a nation rejoices.
How much do Dwayne Murphy and Luis Mercedes have to do with the resurgence of Edwin Encarnacion? [R.J. Anderson, Baseball Prospectus].
Today in F***ing Awesome: Baseball Prospectus and Brooks Baseball (home of the best Pitch F/X analysis in the business) have teamed up to bring you the BP Hitter Profiles [Dan Brooks & Harry Pavlidis, Baseball Prospectus]. From the article:
Essentially, they create sortable hot/cold zones for every hitter in “the PITCHf/x era” (2007-12). You can sort byAVG, SLG, the BP all-in-one offensive statistic TAv, Swings, Whiffs, and various types of balls in play. You can investigate where and how pitchers have attacked a hitter to see if that’s changed. You can sort by month or by year. You can do platoon splits.
For why has Rickie Weeks been so awful this year? [Jesse Sakstrup, Hardball Times].
Would the Nationals consider trading for Cole Hamels? If not, why not? [Paul Swydan, FanGraphs].
Martin Prado—shortstop [D.J. Short, NBC Hardball Talk].