Another signing deadline has passed,
and as much as the MLB commissioner's office tries to enforce the
allotted slot recommendations that each team should spend, teams
continue to hand out record amounts of money to add fresh talent into
That could all change next year, with
an emphasis on 'could,' as Major League Baseball faces an expiring
Collective Bargaining Agreement this offseason with expected changes
to be made to the draft. From pre-determined hard slot figures to
the incorporation of a world-wide draft, there have been many changes
proposed that Commissioner Bud Selig has acknowledged as being items
he hopes to add to the next agreement.
However, history has proven that when
it comes to getting a deal done, the draft usually is not a top
Major League Baseball did make a few
tweaks to the draft with the last change in the CBA, in which
compensatory picks were changed for teams unable to sign their first,
second and third round picks. The changes were relatively minor
considering most think much more serious changes, and close to a
complete overhaul, is needed to properly correct the problems with
the current draft logistics.
Regardless of what happens in the
future, the players, and teams, know that some kind of change is on
the horizon. More and more teams are also recognizing that you have
to spend a significant amount of money on the players taken in the
draft if they hope to remain/become competitive in the years to come.
And when it comes to spending, keep in
mind that players drafted in the early rounds typically end up
This is a point I brought up with Josh
Bell relative to his supposed unsignability after the draft occurred
when the Pirates took him with the first pick in the second round.
When all signs pointed to Bell honoring his commitment to Texas, and
with many expecting him to head to college, the Pirates spent the
money necessary to add him to their system.
So that really shouldn't be that much
of a surprise. The Pirates would not have used a premium pick on a
premium player if they didn't think they couldn't make that deal
happen, especially given how much they have re-devoted their efforts
in recent years to their drafting and overall player development.
Last year, only four players taken in
the top three rounds did not sign (Barret Loux, Karsten Whitson,
Dylan Covey and Ryne Stanek). Loux's situation was somewhat unique,
as was Covey's. Whitson, in my humble opinion, proved this year for
the Gators that he has no business spending the next two years in
college, much less his first, given his pitching prowess.
This year there was only one unsigned
first-round pick, Tyler Beede. Only one pick from the sandwich round
didn't sign, Brett Austin. Sam Stafford, a second round pick, also
didn't sign, while three third rounders, Kevin Cron, Connor Barron
and Peter O'Brien, also decided to go to (or back to in the case of
The Blue Jays will receive the 22nd overall pick next year for not signing Beede, the Padres will get the
55th pick for Austin, the Yankees will receive the 89th pick for Stafford, while the Mariners, Marlins and Rockies will be
awarded a compensatory pick in that respective order after the third
round for Cron, Barron and O'Brien. That is once again assuming the
draft pick compensation process doesn't change as we currently know
The drafting, and spending, efforts of
six teams really stood out to me. All six were not only aggressive
in the players they selected on draft day, but also in the amounts of
money they paid to retain those players on signing day.
After finishing with the third-worst
record in 2010, as well as not signing Loux, the D-Backs had the
third and seventh overall picks going into the 2011 draft. Early
rumors indicated that the team would not allow signability to affect
their decisions leading up to the draft, and that seemed to ring true
on draft day when they selected Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley.
Bauer signed a few weeks prior to the
deadline, and may make the big-leagues before season's end, while
Bradley inked a two-sport deal that allows the Diamondbacks to spread
his $5 million dollar bonus over five years.
They also added two more premium
college arms in Andrew Chafin and Anthony Meo, while also signing all
of their picks in the top five rounds.
Josh Bell's situation was already
mentioned above, who agreed to a $5 million dollar bonus. The
Pirates also had to deal with the first overall pick, Gerrit Cole,
and made that happen with a record $8 million dollar bonus. Those
two picks didn't stop them from signing all 10 of their top picks,
including the $1.2 million they used to ink ninth-rounder Clay
While the Pirates' story entering the
All-Star break was exciting, things haven't gone so well for them the
past few weeks. They did the right thing prior to the trade
deadline, not confusing current success for long-term, sustained
success for a team that hasn't finished above .500 since 1992, by not
trading away young talent for proven commodities. The more they stay
on that track the more likely they are to not only succeed, but
compete on a perennial basis, moving forward.
San Diego Padres
One of the Padres' picks, Brett Austin,
as noted above, did get away and will attend NC State. That miss
doesn't look as bad considering the team had five total first-round
picks due to the number of free agents they lost last offseason.
And they certainly didn't take a
conservative approach with those picks, going down to the wire with
Joe Ross, Michael Kelly and Austin Hedges, a trio of former Aflac
(now Perfect Game) All-Americans. Hedges' situation was similar to
Bell's with the Pirates, as Hedges was considered one of the more
unsignable players entering the spring, expressing his strong intent
to attend UCLA. Also similar to the Pirates' situation with Bell,
the Padres didn't take Hedges in the second round content with
letting him get away, and signed him as a premium pick with a $3
million dollar bonus.
And with the exception of Austin, the
Padres signed all of the players they drafted in the first 23 rounds,
proving that they too are focused on the long road to lasting
Tampa Bay Rays
You may remember a story I wrote about the Rays and the likelihood of them signing all of their picks.
While I didn't put it past them to get all of their early picks in
the fold, I thought it was more likely that a couple of them would
get away since the team had 10 first-round picks given the number of
free agents that had signed with other teams last offseason.
It turns out they signed all 10 of
those first-round picks, as well as all of their picks selected in
the top four rounds and those taken in rounds six through 11. It's
an understatement to say that what the Rays have built from top to
bottom is impressive, as they have sustained their success at the
big-league level while continuing to bolster the reinforcements from
Toronto Blue Jays
Immediately after the draft, it was
difficult to gauge just how serious the Blue Jays were about signing
the players they selected in the draft. They identified several
players that were considered difficult signs, starting with Beede,
their first pick, who did go unsigned despite reports of the Jays
offering him $2.4 million.
And that was after they had already
signed second-rounder Daniel Norris for $2 million, and Kevin Comer
Similar to the Padres and the Rays, the
Blue Jays had several additional, early picks, and outside of Beede,
they signed all of their picks in the top four rounds as well as
their sixth through eighth-round selections. Seventh rounder
Christian Lopes was one of the more notable of these selections, as
he signed for $800,000, and the Blue Jays also wooed 13th-rounder
Matt Dean away from Texas for $737,500.
As impressive as all of the hauls were
as listed above, it's easy to argue that the Nationals drafted the
most recognizable names to those that follow the draft with their
For the third year in the row, they
selected the player nearly unanimously considered the top
draft-eligible talent entering the spring scouting season in Anthony
Rendon. They added Alex Meyer later in the first, Brian Goodwin with
the first pick in the sandwich round, and Matt Purke in the third.
The Nationals ponied up $13.75 million for those four players alone,
and signed all of their picks through the top 12 rounds.