Draft : : Story
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top 10 2012 draft slots determined

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Perfect Game

There has been very little in the way of detail shared by Major League Baseball about the dollar specifics of the draft slots and team draft budgets in the new CBA. This has probably contributed to the overall sense of confusion about the new rules, especially as it pertains to the round budget slot vs. team budget pool concept that is integral to the new draft rules.

Perfect Game has learned that the Commissioner’s Office has privately circulated the budget/slot numbers for the first 10 picks in the 2012 draft. They are as follows:

1.  Houston Astros -- $7.2M
2.  Minnesota Twins --  $6.2M
3.  Seattle Mariners --  $5.2M
4.  Baltimore Orioles --  $4.2M
5.  Kansas City Royals --  $3.5M
6.  Chicago Cubs --  $3.25M
7.  San Diego Padres --  $3.0M
8.  Pittsburgh Pirates --  $2.9M
9.  Miami Marlins --  $2.8M
10.  Colorado Rockies --  $2.7M

Remember, these are not hard numbers for these spots in the draft, they are merely the budgeted numbers for these picks as part of a team’s larger overall budget.

For instance, should the Houston Astros cut a deal with a player to be selected with the first pick for $6.2M, that would give them an extra $1M to spend over the rest of their draft class without going into the penalty area. Conversely, if the Astros saved some money here and there lower in first 10 rounds (only the first 10 rounds will have slotted budget numbers) they could conceivably pay their first round pick slightly more than $7.2M without incurring penalties.

However, if the Astros didn’t sign their first round pick for whatever reason, that $7.2M would disappear from their overall 2012 draft budget and could not be used to sign other players.

A key question everyone in baseball will be looking at is how these numbers, and indeed the numbers for the entire draft, compare to previous drafts.

Below is what was paid in signing bonuses for the first 10 picks in the 2011 draft. This isn’t comparing apples to apples, as three of these contracts were Major League deals (prohibited in the new CBA) that add value and another was a dual sport contract spread over 4 years (unknown how the new CBA deals with this). But it is instructive as a general comparison.

1.  Pittsburgh Pirates (Gerrit Cole) -- $8M
2.  Seattle Mariners (Danny Hultzen) -- $6.35M (ML deal)
3.  Arizona Diamondbacks (Trevor Bauer) -- $3.4M
4.  Baltimore Orioles (Dylan Bundy) -- $4M (ML deal)
5.  Kansas City Royals (Bubba Starling) -- $7.5M (dual sport contract)
6.  Washington Nationals (Anthony Rendon) -- $6M (ML deal)
7.  Arizona Diamondbacks (Archie Bradley) -- $5M
8.  Cleveland Indians (Francisco Lindor) -- $2.9M
9.  Chicago Cubs (Javier Baez) -- $2.625M
10.  San Diego Padres (Cory Spangenburg) -- $1.863M

The total budgeted slot totals for the top 10 picks in 2012 amounts to $40.95M. The total amount spent on signing bonuses for those same 10 picks in 2011, complicated by placing present value on ML and dual sport deals, comes to $46.638M. There is obviously a drop here but five of the ten picks in 2011 actually signed for less than what the 2012 budget slot will be.

However, it’s very worth noting and comparing the new budget slots with the infamous slot “recommendations” that the Commissioner’s Office has given teams in recent years. Here are those recommendations from the 2011 draft.

st Pick -- $4M
2nd Pick -- $3.25M
3rd Pick --  $3M
4th Pick --  $2.75M
5th Pick --  $2.52M
6th Pick --  $2.34M
7th Pick --  $2.178M
8th Pick --  $2.043M
9th Pick -- $1.962M
10th Pick -- $1.863M

Those recommendations total “only” $25,806,000, which is dramatically less than the $40,950,000 that Major League Baseball has deemed the proper amount for the top 10 picks under the new CBA. They have clearly realized that their previous figures did not represent what the market value of the players in the draft had become and adjusted their numbers upwards in the neighborhood of 60%.

It is very clear looking at the dollar numbers that Major League Baseball’s intent in the new draft rules wasn’t to cut spending on the draft or to drive young prospects to college and use the college game as an NFL style developmental tool. The money is still there. What MLB was seeking to do in the big picture was two-fold: A) to establish a draft structure where the best players available are more likely to go to by the teams that theoretically (by virtue of the draft order) need them the most, and B) establish cost certainly in each team’s individual budgets as pertains to the draft and to international talent acquisition as well.

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