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Sunday, December 23, 2012

MacPherson: What is the value of a draft pick in major-league baseball?

Drafting and developing talented players already was a challenge. A team that yielded just one impact player out of each draft was doing about as well as could be expected.

But severe new spending limits restrict teams from being able to pay draftees what they once could, effectively restricting the number of elite draft picks they can sign. In addition, in contrast to previous years, while a team still must forfeit a draft pick to sign a compensation free agent, the team losing the free agent doesn’t inherit that draft pick. The pick instead vanishes into nothingness—and, with it, the $1 million or more the team would have been able to add to its newly restricted signing-bonus allotment.

(Had that rule been in place two years ago, the Red Sox wouldn’t have had a first-round pick, let alone two, and wouldn’t have been able to draft either Matt Barnes or Blake Swihart.)

One might gauge how much a team values a draft pick by the size of his signing bonus—in other words, its investment in him. In the first 10 rounds of the 2011 draft, Boston handed out 10 signing bonuses worth more than $100,000 in the first 10 rounds, eight of which were worth more than $500,000.

In 2012, the first year of the new spending system, the Red Sox handed out just seven signing bonuses worth more than $100,000, five of them worth more than $500,000. Of the players Boston drafted in rounds 6-10, all but one received a bonus of $25,000 or less, an indication that those players were selected more to allow them to allot money elsewhere than for their potential impact as prospects.

What does that mean? Rather than bringing 10 or 11 players who realistically could be viewed as prospects, the Red Sox brought in just seven. The challenge of producing one impact player from the draft class grew steeper accordingly.

JE (Jason) Posted: December 23, 2012 at 09:49 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: draft pick compensation, free agency, red sox

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   1. Tom (and his broom) Posted: December 23, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4331551)
So his hypothesis is that because of smaller bonuses the amount of talent being drafted has decreased.

I am not sure I follow the logic.
   2. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: December 23, 2012 at 04:49 PM (#4331572)
And since when do people/teams pay according to the value a thing ultimately gives?
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2012 at 05:02 PM (#4331574)
So his hypothesis is that because of smaller bonuses the amount of talent being drafted has decreased.

I am not sure I follow the logic.


Makes no sense. No such impact should have happened yet, if it ever did. It will take longer than 12 months for top athletes to turn away from baseball, if they ever do.

If the Red Sox got 5 fewer "real" prospects, it just means that some combination of teams got 5 more.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: December 23, 2012 at 05:14 PM (#4331577)
A team that yielded just one impact player out of each draft was doing about as well as could be expected.

I'm guessing he has a different definition of "impact" than I do because that would be, by far, the greatest drafting team in history.

So his hypothesis is that because of smaller bonuses the amount of talent being drafted has decreased.

I am not sure I follow the logic.


Yeah, it's certainly not clear in the excerpt. It is possible the Red Sox are bringing in less talent in rounds 6-10 (i.e. guys who will sign for peanuts) while other teams still have cash to hand out. We presumably will see more HS draftees opt for college ... but then I assume that's part of the intention.

The other questionable bit from the excerpt is ... who cares what they're doing in rounds 6-10?

Best and total WAR by year/round (signed players only near as I can tell)

2000/6: 1.9 2.2
2000/7: 1.7 -.5
2000/8: 29.5 55 (Webb and Willis)
2000/9: 9.7 10 (Encarnacion)
2000/10: 12.6 12 (Barmes)

A good year for the 8th round but that's 4 impact players. Outside of that group, the best player was Joe Inglett who's made it to 4 WAR and Nick Masset who's made it to 3 and they came in that 8th round as well. Nobody else topped 2 WAR. I have no idea what those guys signed for.

To flesh it out a bit, here are 1999 and 1998 (players of note)

1999/6: Victorino, Harang, Bedard, Putz
1999/7: Crisp
1999/8: Capuano
1999/9: M Ellis
1999/10: Byrd, Guerrier

1998/6: Hall
1998/7: Holliday, D Ross, J Buck
1998/8: Byrnes, J Kennedy, Ohman
1998/9: J Wilson, Ensberg, Madson
1998/10: none

These look pretty good ... and sort of amazing that somebody like Holliday lasted until the 7th round. We are talking about 23 players over 3 years so figure you can count on one decent to good player every 4 years out of rounds 6-10. The only teams with 2 players in that list are the DBacks, Cubs, Rox, Dodgers, Cards, Phils and Astros.

Just cuz it's kind cool:

0 hits: 14 teams
1 hit: 9 teams
2 hits: 7 teams

If everything was just random with a 23/450 hit rate you'd have roughly:

0 hits: 14 teams
1 hit: 11 teams
2 hits: 4 teams
3 hits: 1 team

Nobody can tell the difference between Matt Holliday and Keto Anderson much less between Holliday and Inglett. And on draft day, there may be no difference. Baseball is a funny game.

   5. AROM Posted: December 23, 2012 at 07:45 PM (#4331637)
"Yeah, it's certainly not clear in the excerpt. It is possible the Red Sox are bringing in less talent in rounds 6-10 (i.e. guys who will sign for peanuts) while other teams still have cash to hand out. We presumably will see more HS draftees opt for college ... but then I assume that's part of the intention."

If the draft rules are pushing guys who used to sign million dollar bonuses out of the 6th round into college, then we're just delaying the talent. We'll have a strong college draft class 3 years down the road.

There is one way the rules could result in less talent in the draft, if players decide to play football or basketball instead.
   6. Bhaakon Posted: December 23, 2012 at 09:41 PM (#4331685)
Even if it's pushing them out of baseball altogether, then the overall talent level will drop and relative difference between pre- and post-2011 CBA draft classes will disappear as the previous generation of players retires.
   7. philly Posted: December 23, 2012 at 10:08 PM (#4331701)
Holliday was a tough sign HS player who used football as leverage to sign for 700 or 800k. He wasn't a typical 7th rd pick.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: December 23, 2012 at 11:22 PM (#4331735)
There is one way the rules could result in less talent in the draft, if players decide to play football or basketball instead.


Even if this were happening it would not change the ability of the Red Sox to draft an "impact" player. The declining overall talent level would allow the lesser talents a greater chance to impactify.
   9. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: December 23, 2012 at 11:26 PM (#4331738)
Even if it's pushing them out of baseball altogether, then the overall talent level will drop and relative difference between pre- and post-2011 CBA draft classes will disappear as the previous generation of players retires.


The effect would be more significant than this. Assuming that baseball still gets some of the top talent, a lower overall talent level should mean that there are more outlying performances. Those top talents will be playing against guys who in previous generations would be stuck in the minors, meaning more big seasons by the best players (and more terrible seasons by the worst). The best players would be roughly as good as they are today, but both the quality of the average performer and replacement level would go down. The spread between the best and worst MLB regulars would be larger than it is today.
   10. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: December 23, 2012 at 11:31 PM (#4331743)
I haven't read TFA, but the Red Sox seem like a bad example here. I have no doubt that the new draft rules will mean that the Red Sox get less talent, because under the previous CBA they were leveraging their wealth by spending big in later rounds. The new rules hurt the Sox more than just about any other team in the game. This says nothing about baseball as a whole, however. I do suspect that it will lessen the amount of talent coming, but looking at the Red Sox can't really inform us on this subject.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: December 24, 2012 at 12:21 AM (#4331767)
We'll have a strong college draft class 3 years down the road.

Yes and no. I assume part of the point of pushing more kids in college is to push more of the cost and risk of development onto colleges. The ones drafted three years down the road will be the survivors who continued to develop. Sort of a "less talent, more performance" draft or something.

But, yes, the general point stands -- the same players will be drafted by somebody in some round. And more will go to college (presumably) which will help weed out the losers and probably result in the same amount of talent making it to ML.

The new rules hurt the Sox more than just about any other team in the game.

Maybe. The Pirates and Royals are teams that had been spending heavily in recent drafts. Maybe the Rays too? It took a while but the cheap teams did eventually realize that "signability" wasn't something they should be that concerned about with their picks and they should take advantage of others passed over for signability.

I'm not a big fan of yet further restrictions on the earnings and career options of drafted players but the new rules should make the draft work even more as intended.
   12. bookbook Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:46 AM (#4332156)
Honestly, the difference in attracting fewer of the multi sport stars will probably be too small to measure, much less notice. The better health outcomes and much longer careers will always give baseball a leg up over football. OTOH impatient youth might prefer straight to the NFL over rookie league.

Tangent;
Looking at Kivlehan and others, it's too bad many kids have to go be third stringers on Football teams to get their scholarships, when baseball or, gasp, particle physics, is really their special talent that needs developing during those years.
   13. Tripon Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:54 AM (#4332157)
There is one way the rules could result in less talent in the draft, if players decide to play football or basketball instead.


This would only impact college players who are already two sports stars that have a viable potential career, like Jake Locker. High School players are going to find it to turn down guaranteed cash to go play college ball in whatever sport.

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