Reforming the amateur draft


When the dust settled on Monday and the MLB amateur draft signing deadline had passed, every Major League team had blown the slot system with at least one pick. For rich teams — the Yankees come to mind — the slot signings might as well have not existed. After all, the team signed their first-round pick for $2.2 million — or 100 percent over slot — and spent $7 million on the draft.

In a way, the 2009 draft and the subsequent bonuses are going to represent the end of an era. For the last few years, as Japanese players enjoy record signings and international free agents take home millions of dollars at age 16, both the players and owners have expressed a desire to reshape the draft process. While an international draft may not be as close to reality as many baseball analysts would prefer, a draft overhaul will be a centerpiece of the 2011 labor negotiations.

In The Times today, David Waldstein jumps into the draft fray. The owners, he reports, will seek an NBA-style mandatory slotting system when the collective bargaining negotiations next roll around. He reports:

Since 2002, baseball has made recommendations to teams as a guideline to follow, but that system could be on its way out. When the current collective bargaining agreement runs out in 2011, it is expected that baseball will seek a mandatory signing system for draft picks similar to the one used by the N.B.A…

In the N.B.A., each draft position is assigned a salary figure. It can be negotiated 20 percent above or below that figure, but is now almost always 20 percent above. In the N.F.L., there is a rookie salary pool, and each team can divide up the money however it wishes, as long as it does not exceed the total.

The N.B.A. model, in place since 1995, is the most appealing because it eliminates negotiating and controls costs. Therefore, teams are not afraid to take the best available player for fear they will not be able to sign him. “Theoretically, a fixed price for each pick in the draft is a mechanism that helps restore the draft to its original purpose,” Manfred said. “Teams know what the cost of the talent is, and they just take the best player.”

In other words, those concerns over signability go right out the window, and the top players selected are going to be the best regardless of money.

For the article, Waldstein chatted with Baseball America’s Jim Callis about the reform efforts. Callis notes that the players are not expected to push back too hard on the owner’s efforts at draft reform.

From a practical perspective, I endorse a mandatory slotting system. By all accounts, the Yankees could have signed many of their draft picks in late June or early July. They were prevented from announcing the deals, however, because baseball did not want the Yankees to blow slot so early in the process. Instead of giving Slade Heathcott and other top draftees a chance to get six weeks’ play at Staten Island or in the Gulf Coast League, the Yankees were forced to sit on their hands as other deals fell into place. Reform, in other words, will benefit everyone.

Feel free to use this as your open thread tonight. Ostensibly, the topic is draft reform, but anything goes. The Red Sox and Blue Jays are on ESPN, and we’ll be back at 9:30 with the game thread.

Categories : Draft, Open Thread


  1. The Fallen Phoenix says:

    Reform, in other words, will benefit everyone.

    Well, reform will benefit everyone, except the players who are subject to cost-controlled salaries, and therefore won’t be getting paid what their talent would otherwise warrant.

    I know I’ll get blasted for saying this, but I think the system-as-is is fine. If a team like the Royals can’t bust over slot because they sink too much of their payroll on the Jose Guillens of the world, well, that’s their loss. More often than not, you still get tons of surplus value from the amateurs you draft because for every nine that flame out, one is going to make it to the majors and give you a few years of good production for only $400,000 a year, plus the million or so you paid up-front at the draft.

    It’d be criminal to drive that lone payout down even further down because of penny-pinching owners.

    • Johan Iz My Brohan says:

      A lot of teams are willing to pay over slot these days, so I see no problem with it either. I think it is the players that have these ridiculous demands (Matt Purke) that ruin things.

      • Marcus says:

        Speaking of the Purke types, the draft right before these negotiations take place should be interesting. Threats of going back to school or playing indy ball will have less teeth since there will be lower bonuses if the new slotting rule goes into affect.

        I wonder how Boras will play the game in 2011…

        But Bryce Harper is hitting the draft at the right time, that’s for sure.

    • The Artist says:

      I agree 100%. These drafts in all sports are wrapped in the cushy language of ‘competitive balance’ and ‘fairness’ but they all accomplish the same thing. Screwing talented teenagers out of the money their services would bear if there was a free and open marketplace.

      I wonder how other people would feel if it was applied to them in their line of work. Imagine how the students of Harvard and Yale Law school would feel if the top of their class were subject to the same ‘slotting system’ to “control their costs” by a similar collusion of Wall St firms. Something tells me they would have a problem with it.

      • Well, there kind of is a slotting system for law school graduates, since firms tend to make salary and bonus decisions in lock-step with their competitors, but that’s a very minor nitpick and your point stands, regardless.

        I agree with you, but I think for slightly different reasons. My reasoning is that the system as it currently stands achieves its intended goal, and that, if slotting .can be avoided, it should, for the reasons you stated (general fairness). The stated goal of holding a draft for amateur talent is to funnel good talent towards the weaker teams in the league, and I think that goal is satisfied under the current system. While the Yankees (and the Tigers, and the Red Sox, and any other team that so chooses) can throw their money around, they can’t change the fact that they will not get a pick in the top of the first round no matter how much they spend, and the top of the first round is where the best, most projectable, and most likely to pan-out talent resides. So I think the system achieves its goal, currently, and on top of that I don’t think a hard-slotting system would better achieve that goal, which is really the important point. The Steven Strasburgs and Bryce Harpers of the world are not sliding so far due to financial concerns that the teams that are supposed to draft those players do not draft them, those guys aren’t sliding down to the more successful organizations. A hard-slotting system would have the minimal effect of ensuring that nobody slides at all due to financial concerns at the top of the first round, that’s the only real benefit.

        I haven’t put too much thought into this, but my initial reaction is that the biggest effect of a hard-slotting system would be a chilling effect on the ability of teams to identify, select and sign talented amateurs in the later rounds. To a kid who has a lot of talent but maybe a checkered injury history or some other factor which has caused him to not be selectable in the first round or two, the choice to not sign and to try and re-enter the draft a couple of years later will be much easier to make if the financial incentive to sign is negated. The result of that, I think, will be a dilution of the talent pool available to MLB organizations to draft and cultivate.

        I don’t think MLB wants a hard-slotting system because the draft system is broken. This is about money, plain and simple, and in particular it’s about saving the owners some money at expense of the players.

        • The Artist says:

          “The Steven Strasburgs and Bryce Harpers of the world are not sliding so far due to financial concerns that the teams that are supposed to draft those players do not draft them, those guys aren’t sliding down to the more successful organizations.”

          Exactly, and that’s the most important thing. The top guys that everyone agrees on are going where they are supposed to, and the difference between the 10th and 50th pick usually isn’t big enough to blow up the whole system over.

          The fact of the matter is that teams that don’t put resources into scouting (Mets, Pirates, etc) will still draft poorly even with a slotting system in place, since they won’t know as much about the players as the teams who spend more. Despite all these rules, it still will always come down to management.

        • PS: One more thought… A hard-slotting system might actually have the opposite of the intended effect; it might actually lead to the best talent not going to the worst teams. The reason why I say that is because if MLB institutes a hard-slotting system, they’ll have to also allow teams to trade draft picks, since it would be ridiculous to tell a team ‘you’re the worst team in the league so now you must spend $X on the top pick in the draft, whether you want to or not.’ Thus, a hard-slotting system will almost certainly lead to a situation in which the more successful organizations will be able to trade up into the very top of the first round, thus completely destroying the stated goal of the entire draft system (a goal which, again, I believe is relatively well-served by the current system). So… Again… The only real change you’d be left with would be that the teams would be spending less money on amateur acquisitions (and, in all likelihood, scouting, since the motivation to spend a lot of money scouting players who can be bought later in the draft will be chilled, per my comment above) and, in all likelihood, the resulting system wouldn’t serve the theoretical goals of the draft system as well as the current system.

  2. Accent Shallow says:

    I’m not so sure that a hard NBA-style slotting system would be beneficial for baseball as a whole — I can see it eroding the talent pool quite a bit, since many of the kids would choose to go to college or pursue another sport.

    • Johan Iz My Brohan says:

      Tate would easily get more money in the NFL with a hard slotting system.

      … BoSox/Jays Ump (Andy Fletcher) has a horrible zone tonight, should be an interesting game.

      • Accent Shallow says:

        Exactly, and he’s just one example. How many of the kids who were drafted in the late rounds would just say “Screw this, I’m going to the NFL/business school/my dad’s convenience store,” rather than being signed for over slot and going to low A ball?

        I could maybe see this working if there’s amateur free agency for those who are not drafted, but even then I can see the talent pool shrinking.

    • The Artist says:

      If you look at draft history, many of the so-called top “can’t miss” talents turned out to be mediocre MLB players, if they made it to the bigs at all. Some of this may be skewed by chronic overdrafters like the Pirates, but that can’t explain all of it.

      Unlike the NBA draft, the MLB draft is far more speculative. A slotting system may make some people feel good, but would accomplish little for achieving competitive balance. The reality is you simply don’t know who will be great and who wont. Johan Santana was a Rule 5 guy who was an OF when picked up by the Twins. 71 players were drafted ahead of Dan Haren in 01. 401 players were taken ahead of Albert Pujols in 1999.

      • Accent Shallow says:

        But that’s my point — that a slotting system might push out the Albert Pujolses of the world.

        What are they setting the 13th round bonus at? 100K? 10K?

        I can see a lot of kids taking a non-baseball path in life if they’re not getting significant money, and long-term, that’s bad for the game.

        • The Artist says:

          That too, a talented athlete who has a choice of sports will most likely go elsewhere, unless he thinks he’ll be a top pick.

          • The Artist says:

            So Austin Jackson would likely be playing in the NBA right now, instead of Baseball.

            • Accent Shallow says:


              I’m a selfish baseball fan — I couldn’t care less about the health of the NBA/NFL/NHL/other sports with respect to baseball. If something like that happens, with many talented players going to do something else, it’d be a tragedy.

              How to prevent that from happening, I’m not sure. Stick with the current system? Amateur free agency? A flexible slotting system?

  3. Januz says:

    I honestly do not think the NBA draft system is the way to go. In fact, the NBA Draft was the LEAST interesting of all the drafts (As far as New York is concerned. The NFL had Mark Sanchez, MLB had Slade Heathcott, even the NHL had John Tavares. I favor a free market approach with a ceiling of $20m and a floor of $5m. I guarantee with that system in place, Strasberg would not get $15m and the Mets would not spent around $2m TOTAL.
    For the Yankees, such a system would be ideal, because they would not waste their time dealing with guys (Like Gerrit Cole), who have no interest in being here. Even for teams without the reputation of the Yankees or Red Sox, it is benificial because then can learn to cultivate relationships with prospects, and get them signed. It also works for the Colleges because they will not have to wait until August to know who is showing up on campus (Look what happened with LSU and Colvin: The Phillies threw $900k at him, while in freshman orientation, and he signed.

  4. Kyle says:

    I think whatever money the owners receive in revenue sharing they should HAVE to put right back into the team. I am sick of owners like Loria pocketing $40 million in revenue sharing and not putting it back into the team Maybe if you put the money back into the team, you could always keep your stars and have a good team over an extended period of time and get fans in the ballparks.

  5. Rich Daisley says:

    Restraint of trade be damned. Hopefully the anti-trust exemption gets overturned. All it has done is led to mediocrity.

  6. Drew says:

    Ben, you mentioned a positive that would come out of a new system; the ability to get guys signed and playing by July. One among many other positives I’m sure.
    But wouldn’t one huge negative be that the signability guys wouldn’t drop to us? Whether it is in the early rounds or in the later rounds, I’d think we’d have a lesser shot of landing the best talent.

    • mustang says:

      “But wouldn’t one huge negative be that the signability guys wouldn’t drop to us?”

      Great point that would be a negative for the Yankees, but sometimes even Yankees have to think of what’s better for the game. I mean the Yankees enjoy so many other advantages over the lower market teams at what point is it too much.

      • So the Yankees should get on board with something that further prevents them from getting top young American/Puerto Rican talent? Why would they ever do that?

      • Januz says:

        I honestly do not see where penalizing the Yankees is in the “Best Interest Of The Game”. Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs & Dodgers are what draws interest to baseball (Check out road attendance figures for those clubs). Let me tell you a little story: The then owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates Kevin McClatchie suggested banning large market teams from broadcasting in their ballparks: The Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Cubs, Braves & Cardinals suggested leaving MLB if that occurred. That idea died real quick. MLB needs a strong Yankee team, like the NHL needs the Rangers, the NBA needs the Lakers, and even the NFL needs the Cowboys. The Yankees are MLB’s “Golden Goose”. The team that generates, interest, controversy, and most important dollars to the game. Penalizing them is a mistake.

  7. zack says:

    How is it that David Ortiz can be dead, like totally dead, and suddenly in the last 5 days, suddenly catch fire, hit 4 home runs, and seemingly have his bat speed bat. Some might say it was a drop in the order. Others, hmmmmmm…..Papi being careless with his supplements again?

  8. mustang says:

    Good thread I agree with the mandatory slotting system I also agree with Johan Iz My Brohan comment about revenue money being put into the teams.
    That’s one of the points George Steinbrenner always like to bring up about revenue sharing how some owners just pocket the money.

  9. Salty Buggah says:

    cmon Toronto!

  10. S-man says:

    man halladay is getting worked today by the sox

    too bad he is getting a terrible K zone

  11. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    Rick Sutcliffe is downright giddy.

  12. I’m gettin’ real sick of these ten o’clock games. But, I’m also pumped that Top Chef is back tonight.

    As for the draft, I’m not sure if mandatory slotting would be the answer. I don’t have very many suggestions because, frankly, I’m not that knowledgeable about the draft.

  13. S-man says:

    how the hell do they kill halladay all the time

  14. Januz says:

    I am not critical of the Marlins, they signed their picks, and are building around Henley Ramirez, and their incoming ballpark. Even Oakland cultivated relationships with Stassi and Green and got them signed, Pittsburgh did the same with Von Rosenberg and other picks. The only failures at this were the ultimate quitters (Also known as the Toronto Blue Jays), and the Mets.
    I am honestly sick of all the critics of baseball, who want to change EVERYTHING about the game (Except Fenway Park and the Red Sox). and rarely see the warts of the NFL and NBA, and think everything those sports do is right. (Alex Rodriguez got far more negative press coverage than Dante Stallworth). As for helping lesser teams, keep in mind, it was an NFL team that has to be viewed as the WORST in history (Detroit Lions), despite the draft and revenue sharing.

  15. S-man says:

    thank god for

    rick sutcliffe is a red sox knob polisher

  16. Johan Iz My Brohan says:

    I hope we get to see Cotham pitch in SI tonight.

  17. S-man says:

    That strike 3 call to snyder was BS

  18. Johan Iz My Brohan says:

    For those who haven’t seen these JR Murphy videos!!!:

    I really want videos/pics of him and Slade playing in Yankee uniforms.

  19. DJ says:

    Ok sounds like a good idea but the MLB draft is a lot bigger (more rounds) than the other drafts. So how low of a signing bonus would a guy in the 30th round get? This would lead to more high school players going to college.

    • Zack says:

      Or teams drafting HS kids earlier, letting them go to college and still retain the rights to them like the NBA

    • Mike Axisa says:

      After the fifth round, slot is $150,000.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        Slot’s a bad word to use there, but that’s the max allowed without MLB’s approval.

      • Accent Shallow says:

        Oh, I thought it was much lower. Perhaps I’m affected by an article I read last year on Mike Aviles — the Royals would draft middle infielders who had used up their college eligibility (seniors and 5th year seniors), and offer them a $1000 bonus.

        The reason we never heard about this is a) we don’t follow the Royals, and b) none of them did anything in the minors other than Aviles

  20. Salty Buggah says:

    Buchholz is dealin. I hope he implodes soon.

  21. Salty Buggah says:

    It seems like Alex Gonzalez has done well for the Sox so far…here’s to him also falling off the cliff soon like Nick Green.

  22. The Artist says:

    Another idea that’s been kicked around is being able to TRADE draft picks, like they do in the NFL.

    Sounds interesting, but I think that would do more to undermine the stated intent of distributing talent to weaker franchises. A cash-strapped franchise could simply sell off a high pick to a big market team and pocket the money, rather than pay the slotting fee.

    • Zack says:

      That doesnt prevent holdouts though. If you get drafted by the Pirates, why wouldnt you say trade me to the Yankees and if you dont I wont sign?

      • V says:

        If you’re good enough that the Yankees are willing to trade solid prospects for you, win-win for the Pirates.

        There’s nothing to keep kids from saying “Don’t draft me, I ain’t signing for anyone but the Yankees” anyway.

        • Zack says:

          I dont know if its a win-win; the draft is meant for the best players to go to the worst teams, if kid demands a trade or he wont sign the Pirates dont have any leverage in trade discussions

      • “If you get drafted by the Pirates, why wouldnt you say trade me to the Yankees and if you dont I wont sign?”

        Yeah… But without the financial incentive to do so (the player will be locked into a slot-contract), how often is that really going to happen? I think it’d be exceedingly rare.

        • Zack says:

          Well if you’re only going to get 5m regardless of what team you end up on, why wouldnt you want to go to a high revenue good team rather than Pitts/Wash/etc?
          Although the argument can be made that those teams will bring you up quicker and you get to arb faster, but then we still see some teams waiting a month (Longoria) so they get another year out of you

          • Because players, by and large, are motivated by money. Very (VERY) few of these guys care about playing for the team they rooted for when they were 12. If money is taken out of the equation, they’ll have much less reason to care which team they’re on. And who knows… Like I said below, maybe they have a better chance of reaching free agency earlier with a bad team than they do a good team. That part could really go either way, depending on the organization. I think that part is kind of a toss-up.

            Frankly…I view this part of the discussion as kind of an ancillary issue, anyway. The important part is whether the current system works and whether a new system would better achieve those goals. This holdout part of it is kind of a side-issue.

            • Chris says:

              Eli Manning did this. He wasn’t going to get more money from the Giants, but didn’t want to play in San Diego.

              • Right. And that was a highly-publicized case, because it barely ever happens. I’m not saying never, but definitely very rarely.

                • And, additionally, NFL draftees like Eli Manning have much more incentive to go to good teams than do MLB draftees. Eli Manning was going to be playing in the NFL, in all likelihood, in his first year. MLB draftees don’t play (in MLB) in their first year or two (or usually longer), so the quality of the MLB team should be much less important to the MLB draftee than to someone like Eli Manning. Thus, again, much less motivation to hold-out.

        • The Artist says:

          But what won’t be rare is teams like the Pirates selling off their picks each year. They ‘reach’ with their picks now, for signability reasons. In other words, they take lesser talent in order to spend less. If they were able to trade their picks, they would simply trade their pick and draft lower down to achieve the same goal.

          • Right, I hit that point way up above. I guess one other wrinkle is that it depends on the salaries attached to the slots, which, obviously, we have no way of knowing. If the top picks are more expensive than a team is willing to pay, they’ll ship out those picks. Often. But whatever… No matter what the slots cost, teams will be trading them, and that goes against the goal of the draft (to get talent to the worst teams).

      • The Artist says:

        Its not even that. Think about it. Under the current system, the Pirates get high picks year after year and STILL don’t select the top talent.

        Why? Because they don’t want to pay them. If teams were allowed to trade their picks, the Pirates would be selling them off every year, and the whole purpose of funneling talent to the bad teams is undermined.

        The Yanks or the Red Sox would end up drafting at the top of the draft, and since you mentioned ‘holdouts’ I bet there would be loads of Kobe Bryant situations, where the Bryce Harpers of the world would tell the Nats “Don’t bother drafting me, I won’t sign. I want to be a Yankee/Dodger/Red Sox”. In which case, the new system would be WORSE than the current one for ‘competitive balance’.

        • That last point is the only one I disagree with. I think we’d see very few holdouts under a hard-slotting system. The motivation to go to the better teams is financial. The same way the owners are only concerned with money, thats the players’ primary concern as well. If they’re going to make the same amount of money no matter who drafts them, much of the motivation to try to choose a team will be negated. In fact, it’s probably a better financial decision to go to a worse team, since the player will likely hit MLB earlier than he would with a good team and will likely hit free agency earlier as a result (and free agency is the real pay-off, especially in a hard-slotting system). On top of that, the players will have very little leverage if they hold out. The teams will find it easier to say ‘Ok, sit on your butt and don’t play for anyone, we own your rights and we’re paying you peanuts, what do we care’ under a hard-slotting system.

          • The Artist says:

            The financial angle is an easy one, The Yanks/Sox could simply give the player a nice extension taking him through his arb years to make up the difference. They already do similar stuff with guys who get MLB deals.

            • But they can’t just give the kid a lucrative extension if he’s signed to a slotted contract. I would assume those contracts would be binding and unalterable for a certain amount of time, otherwise there’s no point to having a slotting-system in the first place.

          • Januz says:

            There are plenty of players who are motivated by other factors than simply money (Including the opportunity to play for a WINNER). Last year you saw Brett Marshall say NO to the Red Sox and Mets. He said he is ONLY signing with the Yankees. Here is the example of Bryan Mitchell: ….Mitchell later informed the University of North Carolina baseball team and his school advisor that he would not be attending the school.
            He had a scholarship offer to UNC, but opted for MLB.
            “That was the whole other thing in signing was being able to be a part of the New York Yankees,” he said. “There was no guarantee that they would re-draft me in four years.”….

            • Not sure what that link was.

              I’m not saying there aren’t players who are motivated by factors, to some small degree, other than money. But just because Mitchell wanted to be a Yankee doesn’t mean he would have held out if he was drafted by another team under a hard-slotting system, those are two totally different issues. And, even if he would, per my other comments on this topic, I think he’d be one of the rare outliers.

        • Zack says:

          ‘Under the current system, the Pirates get high picks year after year and STILL don’t select the top talent.’

          I dont know the history of Pirates picks. But can they afford to take someone who wants well over slot and not pay other picks? We’ve seen plenty of ‘cant miss’ prospects. So is it smart to put all your eggs in this basket and risk losing other guys later in the draft? Wouldnt the hard slot allow them to take the best talent without having to worry about the kid going back to school because he didnt get 50% over slot?

        • Accent Shallow says:

          Well, not only do they not want to pay them, but up until recently, they had an awful scouting department. They passed on Jason Heyward (among others) who ended up signing for more or less slot (!), so they could take Danny Moskos.

          They seem to love mediocre college arms who have a ceiling of back-of-the-rotation starters.

        • leokitty says:

          The Pirates spent a ton of money, this year and last. This year, they just wanted to spread it out more than just their first pick. In a hard slotting system they wouldn’t even be taking (or able to take) some of their later round signability cases.

          This ain’t the Dave Littlefield Pirates anymore.

        • DF says:

          Arent you ignoring the value of cost certainty for those teams, like the Pirates, who don’t select the top talent under the current system?

          It doesn’t seem implausible to me that they don’t select the best player because they don’t want to face the specter of negotiating with that player, having said player make exorbitant demands, and then losing the pick entirely. With a hard slot, you’d expect the value of the top pick to be nowhere near Strasburg levels, thereby making it more affordable for the Pirates, and allowing them to know ahead of time that they can afford the pick.

          I see what you’re saying about the Pirates not wanting to pay their picks, but I think they’d spend more liberally with some cost certainty.

    • Yeah, I hit that point above. Yet another clue as to the true intentions of MLB. They’ll have to allow teams to trade draft picks and recently drafted players if they institute a hard-slotting system, and trading will only funnel the top talent away from the worst organizations (which, again, is the opposite of the point of having a draft in the first place).

      • The Artist says:

        The only way they get around allowing teams to trade picks is attaching revenue sharing/luxury tax money to draft picks, essentially paying teams for those players.

        Not sure if that works, since high revenue teams (Mets) can finish in last place, and therefore wouldn’t be eligible for the funds even though they are in line for a top pick.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      If teams could trade picks, big market clubs could destroy the draft. Anytime you make a deal, have the other club toss in a 25th rounder, a 40th rounder, something low like that. Then grab a high upside kid and make a run at him.

  23. V says:

    100%, totally 100%, disagreed that a hard slotting system is a good idea.

    Sure, the owners would love it. The Mets would be able to get good talent despite spending shite on their farm system.

    Sure, the players don’t give a fuck – it’s not them. They already got THEIR money.

    The amateurs are the ones who are going to get screwed. And in the end, MLB will NOT end up the better for it.

    You’re an athletic kid in high school, great at basketball, football, and baseball, and like many athletes, blow off school because you’re DEFINITELY going to be a pro. Which are you going to choose to devote your career to?

    Certainly not the one of the three where, if drafted ‘too late’, you’ll get your $100k, with a pretty damn good chance of getting stuck in Low-A for 6 years before calling it a career. $100k sounds pretty fucking nice, but once you’re 24 years old, hitting .250 in AA, and have to decide to keep trying or go work at Wal-Mart for the next 40 years. Nope, you’re choosing one of the two that’s a lot more immediate in terms of making the $$.

    You think Austin Jackson chooses baseball if there’s a hard slotting system? How about Matt Kemp? Donovan Tate? Grady Sizemore? CC Sabathia?

    Everyone whines about how much these ‘unproven kids’ get paid. Sorry, $7M for a draft class? If ONE of these kids turns out to be a decent middle reliever for 6 years, the entire draft has paid for itself in terms of how much it would cost to replace that from free agency.

    Just review Ross Ohlendorf’s thesis – the draft, as constituted, is pretty fuggin’ good for the teams. And people want to make it EVEN BETTER for the teams??!

    IMO, keep the draft as is, but add the ability to trade picks, or players IMMEDIATELY after being drafted. How much could the Nationals have gotten if they had traded the RIGHT to sign Strasburg?

    • Johan Iz My Brohan says:

      Ross Ohlendorf is the man, he actually leads the pirates in wins this year.

    • Zack says:

      “You think Austin Jackson chooses baseball if there’s a hard slotting system? How about Matt Kemp? Donovan Tate? Grady Sizemore? CC Sabathia?”

      for basketball you have to be a top 40 prospect or you end up in the D-league. what do 5th-7th round picks for NFL get ‘guranteed’? cant imagine its more than 100k, and those guys can get cut any minute and end up on practice squad.

      • JMK says:

        Yes, but there are other options for basketball players other than the NBA. Maybe not as desirable, but Europe can be an attractive option for solid pay. Football teams have rosters of 80-something(?) so there seems to be a better chance if one is talented to at least get on the roster and play into a good contract in a short time. There’s maybe Japan as another option for baseball players and that doesn’t seem like a desirable option for players. I still think that very talented guys with potential in other sports would choose them over baseball if a hard-slot system is instituted. Too much risk for small money compared to other sports if they are also good at the others. Maybe there are some numbers on the percentages of players from all three sports that make it and pan out professionally.

        I’m not really a fan of the other two sports, and as a result, don’t follow them much. So, it’s possible that I’ve erred in my analysis. Please correct me if that’s the case.

    • I agree with this, except I’m not sure about trading picks.

    • Esteban says:

      I guess RAB is not a huge proponent of the free market.
      International players sign as free agents and that hasn’t led to the big market teams signing all of the best international free agents. a free agent system wouldn’t be the end of the world.

    • JMK says:

      “IMO, keep the draft as is, but add the ability to trade picks, or players IMMEDIATELY after being drafted. How much could the Nationals have gotten if they had traded the RIGHT to sign Strasburg?”

      Agree with all points from your comment. The idea of being able to trade picks before and after the draft is great. It provides all teams with flexibility and could lead to compelling fan interest.

      This outrage simply lines the pockets of owners even further and gives bored “journalists” a platform for them to masturbate their “brilliance” on a page. I don’t believe a hard-slot would help the game at all, it would do the opposite.

  24. 27 this year says:

    A hard slot would lead to a massive shut down of farm system teams because not enough players would even pursue baseball. Also, should the slotting system be implemented, the owners would have to give up something like shorter team control periods, more arb years. I would support that because then, rather than unproven players getting big bucks, proven guys get the money they deserve.

  25. Adam says:

    pending watchiing him throw first… How’s about billy wagner off waivers? we need another lefty with phil coke being overworked.

  26. Jose says:

    “Buchholz has proven he can pitch with Sabathia and Verlander. Now he is trying to prove that he can beat them.”

    When did he prove all this? The guy with a 6-13 5.29 lifetime ERA has proven something at this point? He has high upside, but lets go by what he has done, not what he could do.

  27. The Artist says:

    Roy Halladay sucks.

  28. S-man says:

    incredible how the red sox are owning halladay

    • The Artist says:

      I’m starting to believe JP Ricchardi knew something that everyone else didn’t.

      I’ve long believed that about Johan Santana. His velocity began to decline in his last year with the Twins and has dropped annually with the Mets. At 27-28 years old, there’s probably an injury-related reason for that. With Roy, its probably just age catching up at 32.

  29. Jake H says:

    Does the MLB draft need to be reformed? No.

    Reasons why the draft shouldn’t be reformed.

    1. Owners spend what they want regardless. example, KC Royals last year spent the most money in the history of the draft until Washington did this year. They didn’t have the #1 pick even. The Mets a terrible team spent hardly any money on the draft because their owners don’t want to not because they don’t have the money.

    2. How are you going to slot 50 rounds? This doesn’t make any sense at all. NBA works because there are 2 rounds not 50.

    3. Lets say that Owners now will only spent 4 million instead of on average of 7 million if players think that they are going to get that they are pretty stupid.

    4. Jayson Stark had an article where he was complaining that Strasburg got 15.1 million total contract but a whole bunch of over the hill starters who suck didn’t get that amount of money. Who cares that 2 of the 3 guys he put in are all not very good right now and will be retiring.

    5. Kids are going to go to college instead of pro ball. While that is good because college is very important but college coaches aren’t there to look after the kids arms or skills. They are there to win. I know a guy who’s son plays for Arkansas. Out of HS he was drafted and was very well recruited. He had some offers but not what the family thought. He went to college, got hurt and the coach put him into the BP. Since then he hardly has pitched, has gotten any better. This year he wasn’t drafted.

    • Johan Iz My Brohan says:

      Rice = death to pitchers

      (for me that would Duke = death to runners)

      • Accent Shallow says:

        If only all those kids hadn’t gone to Duke, they could have had lucrative pro careers as . . . oh.

        (Seriously, how many kids went into Duke with a chance at the Olympics if they could improve, and then proceeded to flame out? I have no idea. Maybe it’s just Southern cooking fattening them up?)

    • S-man says:

      no offense, but you have to be on something if you think that its ok for players who haven’t done a thing to hold teams hostage because they think they are the shit when most of them become expensive busts. This isnt the NFL where a lot of those highly paid first round picks actually end up doing at least a serviceable job in the NFL.

      • Jake H says:

        Look at Joba. The guy gut 1.15 million and since then hasn’t made a ton of money. Most players play at least 2 years in the minors if they are college guys unless they just crush everything. Those guys are playing for peanuts. They live off their signing bonus. If they are going to reduce signing bonuses then they need to pay the players more which won’t happen.

      • “no offense, but you have to be on something if you think that its ok for players who haven’t done a thing to hold teams hostage…”

        Wrong. All players are paid for future performance, not past. Amateurs have done enough that teams want to pay them money because they want their future performance. You don’t “have to be on something” to get that. It’s the team’s decision whether to pay the player, the team can always just say no.

        • Jake H says:

          Agree. They are paying for potential. Also the reason taht most teams don’t do well is because their GM’s are good or their player development people mess up. I live here in KC, I’ve seen it first hand.

    • Zack says:

      Sorry about the kid, but that is a risk of passing on guaranteed money for a bigger payday. If he got hurt and is still working back, or maybe he lost stuff, or hey maybe they got new recruits who are just better then that’s part of the game.

      • Jake H says:

        He didn’t lose a lot of stuff, he is healthy now and pitched some but not what the coach promised. The coaches have no reason not to blow a kids arm off.

        If they are going to make a slotting system they need to go to the NCAA and tell them that they need to have more scholarships for baseball. Instead of 12 full scholarships make it 25 or how ever many kids you can have plus 2-3 to redshirt.

        • Zack says:

          “He didn’t lose a lot of stuff, he is healthy now and pitched some but not what the coach promised. The coaches have no reason not to blow a kids arm off.”

          Didnt say they should blow his arm off, you also gave no details about his injury, if he was throwing 150 pitches or if he hurt it just warming up.
          What the coach promised isnt really significant is it?

          And the NCAA cant tell schools how many scholarships they should have, most universities are CUTTING programs right now, they’re in no position to ADD scholarships to baseball programs.

    • Dale says:

      Straburg on open market? He’d blow away any deal

  30. Mike HC says:

    There is no reason that the MLB draft cannot mirror what the NBA or NFL does. After the salary cap, a draft where the worst teams get the young talent is the most important thing to ensure an even playing field. Not only does baseball not have a salary cap, not only do they not even have a draft for international players, but the draft they do have still does not deliver the top talent to the teams at the top of the draft on a consistent basis.

    There is a reason that the Yankees are expected to win the World Series every year. It is why Girardi chose to wear number 27. It is World Series or bust. The advantages that the Yankees enjoy are enormous. As a Yankee fan, I love it.

  31. S-man says:

    the mets are getting ass stomped

    14-2 top 6

    • Jose says:

      Better call the Mercy Rule. Bring in Jeremy Reed and Cory Sullivan to pitch.

      • S-man says:

        they already threw out nelson figuroa and tim redding, both of whom served up nice pitches down the middle for the eager braves hitters

    • Zack says:

      Parnell starting was kind of their only thing to be excited about for the rest of their season, except Johan. Now that just blew up too

      • Johan Iz My Brohan says:

        Some Mets fans are already hoping they land Bryce Harper in 2010. Of course, they wouldn’t give him the contract it takes to sign him, since they generously follow the slot recommendations of Darth Selig.

        • Jose says:

          They spent $1,864,300 for their drafted players in the top 10 rounds. How can the Yanks sign one player for more money than all the Mets’ top 10 picks who signed? Who did they draft, Dominican hobos who are too lazy to play baseball?

  32. Accent Shallow says:

    Fangraphs is bordering on stathead parody:

  33. Dale says:

    The only thing slotting helps are rich owners

  34. Reggie C. says:

    I’m not opposed to a firm slotting system to regulate signing bonuses for the US draft. However, an extension to the international markets would be a logistical nightmare, and frankly as a Yankee fan, i’d like to maintain an advantage where i can in an increasing anti-yankee world.

    Besides , we’ve seen an increasing number of teams like the Pirates and Athletics of baseball flex their financial muscle internationally. Its come draft time of American teenagers where clubs are held hostage.

    Honestly, the Tigers or Yankees have no reason selecting a Jacob Turner or Gerrit Cole. The Pirates and Nationals should get first dibs domestically to the best talent here.

    • Johan Iz My Brohan says:

      Also, one advantage here that American high schoolers and some college students have is the ability to go back to college. Most of the international draftees don’t have that option. With internatinal free agency, those players can look for the best offer they can to help themselves and their families, as opposed to being drafted by one team and not having the option to try to grind out more money or go to college. International drafts would be bad not only for the MLB, but for those families and players subject to it.

      • Johan Iz My Brohan says:


      • Well you can make that argument for American amateurs, too. There aren’t too many kids who would choose going to college over playing baseball professionally for millions of dollars. A hard-slotting system would be bad for American amateurs and their families, too.

        • Reggie C. says:

          Perhaps so HCM , but at the end of the day unsigned American amateurs can always re-enter the draft after 2/3 years of college baseball (depending on age). For those who go the JC route, i believe they could re-enter the following year. There are alternatives for American amateurs.

          For Dominican and Venezuelan teens, the system doesnt offer many alternatives. If they dont sign at 16, many wont ever get offers again. Dominican and Venezuelan teens have a very short window to sign the best offer, so they can only bluff so hard.

          • “If they dont sign at 16, many wont ever get offers again. Dominican and Venezuelan teens have a very short window to sign the best offer, so they can only bluff so hard.”

            Right… Under the current system. If there was a draft why wouldn’t they be a similar position as any other American amateur (i.e. able to re-enter the draft at a later date)? You’re comparing international amateurs to American amateurs assuming international amateurs operate under the current IFA system and Americans under a draft system, but for purposes of this conversation you have to assume we’re dealing with a draft system for both American and international amateurs.

            • Reggie C. says:

              16/17 year old international players do not go to college. They toil in their home country’s “education” system another year or two. American amateurs (HS seniors) go to college. Besides, American amateurs have an advantage of organized baseball.

      • Zack says:

        True. Other sports dont have that problem because they make the kid choose draft or school prior to the draft.

    • Chris says:

      Why would it be a logistical nightmare to have an international draft? These guys are already being scouted and signed by major league teams, so I’m not sure why it would be more difficult to submit their name during the draft as opposed to signing them to a contract.

  35. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Looks like Jorge is getting that off day today.

  36. DF says:

    This is quite the free market circle-jerk in here. :)

    This concern about top athletes going pro in other sports seems misguided to me. Baseball will still retain its advantage of offering the long possible career, and aside from pitchers, the lowest chances of injury, wouldn’t it? That still seems like a compelling reason to play baseball instead of, say, football.

    I don’t see the current system funneling the best players to the worst teams. For example: Rick Porcello on the Tigers, Andrew Brackman (admittedly there were other reasons for him falling than just money) on the Yankees. Strasburg held up the Nationals for millions more than any team should have to pay a player who’s never thrown an international pitch.

    Bottom line, IMO, baseball should do what is best for baseball, and a hard slot system creates the most competitively balanced system of joining bad teams and talented prospects. I think what this dispute comes down to is I find a league with parity to be aesthetically and competitionally (is that a word?) pleasing. It would seem many others don’t share that same concern. Not sure how that gets reconciled, either, if at all.

    • “This is quite the free market circle-jerk in here.”

      “Bottom line, IMO, baseball should do what is best for baseball, and a hard slot system creates the most competitively balanced system of joining bad teams and talented prospects.”

      Actually, no, it’s not a “free market circle-jerk.” There have been many theories offered for why the current system is better than the proposed hard-slotting system (and there have been theories offered in support of a hard-slotting system), all of which have as their most basic underpinning that they are in baseball’s best interest. Those arguing against a hard-slotting system, for the most part, are not making that argument in order to defend a free-market system, but because they do not think a hard-slotting system is in baseball’s best interest. Your comment is myopic and ignores the bulk of the discussion that has occurred here.

      • DF says:

        The circle jerk comment was supposed to be a joke, hence the smiley. I think you’re being a bit myopic, since I responded to several of the arguments against a hard-slotting system.

        As I said, I think this aversion (or in my case, enthusiasm) for a hard-slotting system is an aesthetic disagreement.

        You’re of course free to disagree, or to take offense at perhaps badly executed attempts at humor, as you see fit.

        • No offense taken. I just reject the argument that baseball should institute a hard-slotting system because that’s what’s best for baseball. Forgive me for straying into politics to make this analogy, but it’s like one political party saying ‘vote for us because we love America.’ Both sides of this debate think what they’re advocating is ‘what’s best for baseball.’ Most anti-slotting voices here are not anti-slotting because they’re pro free-market; most of the anti-slotting arguments here have been made because those people think the current system works better to achieve the goals of the draft than a hard-slotting system would.

          As far as your arguments…

          “This concern about top athletes going pro in other sports seems misguided to me.”

          Well yeah, of course baseball probably offers the chance for a longer career than, say, football does, and a hard-slotting draft system won’t change that fact. But if you’re a guy who’s going to get drafted in the mid to later rounds of the MLB draft, and you have a decent shot at getting drafted into the NBA after playing some college ball, aren’t you going to be more likely to go the basketball route when the financial incentive to play baseball is stripped away than you would be if the financial incentive to play baseball was not stripped away? You may not think the effect will be very pervasive, but there’s no denying that baseball loses some leverage in those decisions when you strip away some/most of the financial incentive to choose baseball.

          “I don’t see the current system funneling the best players to the worst teams.”

          You go on to give Porcello, Brackman and Strasburg as supporting examples, but only one of those three is a valid example. You admitted yourself that Brackman didn’t fall due to only financial considerations – the guy didn’t have much of a college baseball track-record and came with major injury concerns. He really went right about where he should have. Strasburg is an irrelevant example, since he went to the worst team with the top pick. How much money he got is irrelevant to a discussion of whether the worst teams get the best talent in the current draft format. Porcello… He’s really the only example that works, here. Surely there are other guys who fall a bit due to financial concerns, but I submit that the current system works pretty damned well. The worst teams do, no matter how much some may belly-ache about the draft, tend to get the very best talent available (talent, projectability, probability of success all taken into account).

  37. Stryker says:

    i haven’t read through all the posts on the draft topic but these are my thoughts:

    first off, as broken as the system is – it WORKS. on a surface level, it’s something that’s fair for everyone to a degree (i’ll get to that in a moment). if your team has a bad year, you’re rewarded with a higher pick dependent on where you placed in the standings. what’s so bad about that? but wait, it’s something of a double edged sword. now that baseball has changed there’s a few things to consider: 1) more of a focus on young, cost-controlled players, 2) these players have multiple options other than accepting a major league team’s offers, and 3) these offers are typically a lot of money.

    now, this degree i mentioned. like i said, these offers are typically very expensive. more money than i’ll ever seen in my lifetime. i understand that – due to baseball being these guys’ careers and being team controlled for such a long time – but these teams, regardless of having a method of ‘sharing the wealth’, are sometimes unwilling to spend the money because often times it’s more detrimental than it is beneficial.

    i’m not sure making ANY changes to the draft helps. what will it accomplish? the way the draft is constructed and just a general aspect of baseball, teams evaluate talent differently. the way things have gone in the past, top talent….so a possible solution to this is to have a designated amount of money per draft position?! a guy that may have more of a ceiling/upside that dropped to the 27th pick (sup, porcello) than a guy that was drafted top 15 (looking at you, dan moskos) will actually be getting paid less just because he has higher demands than others?

    i know i’ve said it before, but making changes to one aspect of the draft directly influences another which directly influences another. if they’re going to change one part, they’re going to need to overhaul the entire process. if they’re so set on changing things, we’re going to be seeing the scope of major league baseball change — possibly for the worse.

    • DF says:

      a guy that may have more of a ceiling/upside that dropped to the 27th pick (sup, porcello) than a guy that was drafted top 15 (looking at you, dan moskos) will actually be getting paid less just because he has higher demands than others?

      That wouldn’t happen though, would it? Because in a hard slot system, there are no demands that picks can make. They get what they get based on where they’re drafted. Or am I misunderstanding what you’re trying to say?

      • Stryker says:

        no, you understand just fine! if you couldn’t tell, i’m against the hard slot system. it’s essentially taking all the leverage/power out of the hands of the players these teams draft. these guys aren’t in the union, so the MLBPA frankly doesn’t give a shit whether or not they’re being paid appropriately.

        it’s about money and for kids in baseball it SHOULD be about money. they’re slaves for up to 10 years for major league ball clubs. joey votto was drafted in 2002. he isn’t even eligible for a raise until 2011. the reds bumped him from 390K to 4375K from 08 to 09, but they didn’t need to. so, he’s not even eligible for a raise at his job for NINE years. and then he can only demand what he wants and either settle out of court or has a 50/50 chance at getting a big raise or a minimal one while his team tears down his entire skillset.

        and he does that for three years.

        then, 2014, a full 12 years after he first was drafted, he finally gets to command what he wants on an open market.

    • Stryker says:

      wow, forgot to type a chunk of my thought there in the third paragraph. should say:

      “the way things have gone in the past, top talent isn’t necessarily restricted to the first 10 or so picks. it isn’t like the NBA or NFL where talent is top heavy and drops off after the first round”

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