So what will it mean for the Nationals, now that they’re picking later in the draft than they have before? Well, in the short-term, they won’t be at as much risk of losing their first-round pick for signing a Type A free agent as they would have been under the old system. But it seemed less likely they were going to pursue a big-name free agent this year than they were last year anyway. This has been a team built on scouting and development; Rizzo constructed his entire front office around the idea of winning the amateur draft. Lately, that has meant spending money.
Now the trick will be to figure out if a player can be selected later in the draft, knowing the savings will be greater than if he goes early in the draft. But with such a large pool of players, both from college and high school, baseball’s draft is unlike any other sport’s, and it might be the biggest crapshoot of the major professional leagues. Teams won’t be able to pluck falling talents like Purke (who was projected to go in the first round but slipped to the third because of signability concerns) with fat contracts. It might mean the top players go where they should, but that would require every team to agree on who the top players are. At the very least, it’ll be interesting.
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