Guest Post: Yankees’ Draft Spending


The following is a guest post from long-time reader Jake Hopkins, who you’ve probably seen in the comments as Jake H. He took a look back at how much money the Yankees have spent in the draft in recent years, something that will now be limited thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

In one of his regular Friday chats, someone asked Mike if the Yankees should increase how much they spend on the draft and/or international free agents. This has been something that Yankees fans have been complaining about since last year’s draft, the Yankees not spending enough. Wanting to find out if this was true, I looked at the last five drafts, but with a twist.

What I wanted to do was take out the first round money in the draft. I did this because the Yankees never have a chance to draft a guy like Eric Hosmer or Stephen Strasburg. By taking these large bonuses out we can see the teams that spend throughout the entire draft and not just on their first round pick. The Giants are a good example; in the last five years they’ve spent $31.921 million on the draft and $16.356 million on first round bonuses (52.1%).

This point is more evident when looking at the total number of first round and supplemental first round picks since 2007. The Yankees have had a total of just five draft picks in those rounds during that time. That’s tied for the lowest amount of draft picks along with the Orioles and Marlins. The Blue Jays and the Rays are tied with the most at fifteen picks during that five-year span.

What I did was take the first round’s salary out of the equation and added back in a dollar. I then took that amount and divided it by the number of total picks that signed for the five-year period. The Yankees spent an average of $182,790 per pick, which was the fourth highest total. The Red Sox were number one followed by the Pirates and then the Jays. The Yankees also had the least amount spent on the first round picks until the 15th spot which was the Phillies, and they aren’t known for spending on the draft.

So we now know what the Yankees spent on average on each non-first round draft pick over that five-year period. Here is a year-by-year break down…

  • 2007: $145,313 average draft pick spending, fifth most.
  • 2008: $150,000 average draft pick spending, tenth most. (Remember no Gerrit Cole or Scott Bittle)
  • 2009: $207,692 average draft pick spending, fourth most.
  • 2010: $205,214 average draft pick spending, seventh most.
  • 2011: $227,957 average draft pick spending, sixth most.

As the numbers show, the Yankees have increased their average spending on the draft over the last five years, with 2011 representing their highest average draft pick price. While the Yankees’ spending has increased, I’m sure people are saying that the MLB average has gone up. Yes it has, but not as much as you may have thought…

  • 2007: $95,985 average for all teams.
  • 2008: $131,825 average for all teams.
  • 2009: $132,878 average for all teams.
  • 2010: $143,813 average for all teams.
  • 2011: $136,268 average for all teams.

So there was a large jump in draft spending from 2007 to 2008, then the average spending stayed close to those numbers with 2010 being the highest. Now keep in mind that this takes all teams into account, even those teams that don’t spend much at all. As the data shows, the Yankees have been consistently spending more per draft pick then the majority of the league. While people can complain that they didn’t draft such and such or sign who we want, we can’t say that they aren’t spending money.

Categories : Draft, Guest Columns
  • zs190

    I feel like the Yankees just signed fewer players in the last few years instead of actually spending more. In 2011, Yankees only signed 24 of the 50 picks they made and when you don’t sign a lot of low-potential college guys/org guys, the average $/pick goes up. That’s for 2011 though, I’m not sure about 2009/2010.

    • Jake H

      Yes they have signed fewer players but so have two of teams above them. The number one team for draft has signed the fewest players.

      • Soriano is a Liar

        Just a theory, this could be (partly) because the Yankees, and other low drafting teams like the Sox, pick a lot of high upside signability cases. Some don’t sign, lowering your total number, and the ones that do they often give big bonuses to to lure them away from college.

      • zs190

        If the Yankees had signed 6 more non-prospects last year, the money spent on draft and quality of the draft would be essentially same but you would get a significantly lower $/pick. I feel like the data, while interesting, does not necessarily support your conclusion.

        • Ted Nelson

          It’s not a perfect or comprehensive study, but neither is the general crying, bitching, and moaning about how the Yankees didn’t throw $X million at some kid that 29 other team picks decided wasn’t worth throwing $X million at either.

          A more in-depth statistical analysis including # of players signed, standard deviation, and other statistical tools would be better. This is a starting point, though, and better than the general bitching I see.

  • Steve S.

    Nice piece, Jake. After reading more of the details I’ve come to the conclusion that the new draft regime both helps and hurts the Yanks. They won’t have the resources to do more than one over slot player in the Mason Williams/Brett Marshall/Betances mold, but if the small market teams are limited to a budget then they may blow their wad on their top pick (likely) meaning that good players fall deeper in the draft since the teams with the top picks can’t sign them. So the Yanks lose out on Rounds 6-10, but will have better players available to them in rounds 2-5. That may be why Bud created the new competitive balance round, to give bad teams a 2nd shot at the next tier of players.

    But I don’t think the Bryce Harper’s of the world are going to lower their demands due to the new system, so teams may have to choose between losing their pick and spreading out their spending. I think most will opt to sign their #1.

    • Ted Nelson

      I think it’s a huge assumption that bonuses will not come down in response to this new system. If there is indeed less money to be spent, bonuses will almost have to come down. It might not be a one-to-one relationship and the distribution might distort things… but the overall spending is going to almost have to come down so long as this system is in place.

  • Steve S.

    One other thing. As I posted today, I think more players will opt to go to college. That may be bad for the draft in the short run, but long term it should mean FAR more certainty in who teams draft. That could also serve to deepen future drafts, where top players are more well known and some high upside but more speculative players fall down to the Yanks.

  • Steve S.

    Can’t you just see Scott Boras in these negotiations?

    Nats-”25 MILLION!?! Our entire draft budget is 18, and if we exceed it by more than 15% we’ll lose our 1st round pick for the next TWO YEARS!!!!”

    Boras-”….and? 25, or Johnny goes to college. Have a nice day.”

    • Ted Nelson

      I think the idea is that once he has enough Johnny’s going to school then not getting any more money even after 3 years in school… he and his Johnnys will both realize that they should just take the lower offer. Plus maybe that enough Johnny’s will tell Boras to pound salt instead of risking millions that they stay healthy and dominant for 3 seasons (could go JC route for only 1 year of risk and you’ll always have some Cole’s… but I have to think most kids will just take the set for life payday).

      Who knows how it will work in practice and some teams might decide to go all-in on a Harper/Strasburg type. I think that’s the idea, though, to at least take some leverage away from the agent/player.

      • Steve S.

        For the typical top talent, I would agree it makes sense to settle at a number both teams can live with. But for the unique talent like Strasburg, Harper, etc I don’t see why Scott will care what the team has to deal with. Pay me, or Johnny goes back to school. Scott has very defined ideas on what players are worth to a team, and isn’t paid to solve their problems but to represent his client.

        • Ted Nelson

          A. Those guys are one in a million. It’s a marginal concern compared to the whole system.

          B. I haven’t seen anything about how the pools will be determined… but I believe teams picking earlier will get a larger pool. Therefore they are better candidates, all else equal, to get that guy signed than a team with a smaller pool.

          C. It is in his clients’ interests that he get them the most money (in a good situation… which is fairly subjective). If Johnny has to wait three years… he loses three years of interest on that money and takes a HUGE risk that he can still get that money in three years let alone more money. And that’s really my point. Will the money be there next year or in three years? It’s less likely in this system than the last. Previously, Boras had a ton of leverage because his client could just re-enter the draft and any other team could draft the kid and spend on him without repercussions aside from the $ and opportunity cost. Now… every team has additional repercussions. Theoretically less teams will be less willing to throw money at the kid next year or in three years.

          C. Strasburg already went to college under the old system… so that’s not a great example.

          • Steve S.

            Strasburg wasn’t a big prospect in HS or his first year of college, then took up a militaristic training regimen and became Superman. But that’s not the point. The player decides whether he wants to stay in school or leave up to his final year of college, and even then some top picks will play Indy ball if they don’t get their price. You act as if the teams hold all the cards, and they don’t.

            • Ted Nelson

              That’s not how I’m acting at all. They now hold more of the cards, though.

              • Ted Nelson

                What I actually said was that the earliest teams theoretically have more money to work with and that there will Still theoretically be less money waiting for you should you wait

          • Plank

            What language is that alphabet written in? I always thought D came after C.

            I’m growing wary of this.

  • Ted Nelson

    Great analysis. Drives me nuts that people lambaste them for not spending millions and millions on guys who ~29 other teams/picks didn’t think were worth it… yet failing to analyze their spread the wealth strategy at least a bit. Thanks for taking a look at it.

  • kenthadley

    by the way, what did we sign in IFA this year? I can only recall one or two announced signs.

  • IB6 UB9

    This method, while interesting, is invalid. By ignoring 1st round picks you are ignoring the fact that the Yankees have had opportunities to draft high price players in those spots and passed.

    Total spending can be skewed by a Strasburg or a ton of comp picks (Rays, Jays) but average spending per post-1st round pick desn’t help you if Boston, Tampa and Toronto are all hoarding top talent.

    (I think the Yankees draft very well – I just think Oppenheimer could do even better with more money.)

    • Ted Nelson

      It’s not invalid… it’s just measuring something different.

    • Ted Nelson

      “I just think Oppenheimer could do even better with more money.”

      How about a little something to prove that? Jake’s study wasn’t all-encompassing… but he at least looked up some data. To prove that Dante Bichette or Cito Culver wasn’t a better pick than whoever you wanted is going to take time.

      • IB6 UB9

        I need to prove that Oppenheimer would do a better job drafting and signing players if he had a bigger budget?

        • Ted Nelson

          Yeah. Spending more money does not guarantee better results.

          You also have to prove Opp doesn’t already have a fairly limitless budget. He’s been able to draft the Brackman and Coles when he’s chosen. He might honestly have liked Bichette ad Culver better than any prospect on the board.

          • Plank

            It doesn’t guarantee better results, but in the aggregate, teams that spend more put themselves in a better position to get more value out of the draft.

            Also, I’d like you to prove this statement:

            Spending more money does not guarantee better results.

            You are presenting it as fact. I think it is clearly on you to prove this through rigorous statistical analysis. Please show your work.

            • Ted Nelson

              Get a life loser

              • Plank

                No need to get upset. I was simply asking for a basis for your factual statement. It’s a valid request.

                • Ted Nelson

                  No it’s not you dumb shit. It is obvious that there is no way to guarantee draft success besides just superior evaluation. There may be a trend towards more money leading to better results, but it’s not a guarantee. You’re not the smartest, huh?

                  • Plank

                    Listen, if you can’t back up your rampant speculation with factual information, you shouldn’t present it as factual.

                    There’s no need to get upset.

                    If what you are saying is true, you should be able to find support in 2 minutes on an internet search. I haven’t seen anyone coming to your assistance either.

                    Again, I’d like to see some figures.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      You really don’t understand why a private organization’s financials need to be cited and not a logical argument that you can’t guarantee an outcome you don’t entirely control?

                    • Plank

                      Your response isn’t germane to this simple request for information you are claiming is fact. I’m just asking to see the figures. You are trying to deflect from the fact that you, I can assume at this point, have no data to back up your claim.

                      Again, it’s a simple request. Did you falsely claim opinions as facts or didn’t you?

                  • Plank

                    It is obvious that there is no way to guarantee draft success besides just superior evaluation.


        • Plank

          Yeah, jerk. Why didn’t you run a regression analysis yet showing a statistically significant difference between the actual Yankees draft and the theoretical Yankees draft to at least two standard deviations?

          Forget the fact that it’s impossible to run that type of study both functionally and logically, this is a Yankees blog, and this is Thanksgiving.

          One dickhead is demanding results!

  • Greg

    I believe that the analysis is somewhat faulty. The complaint isn’t really that the Yankees don’t spend enough. It’s that the Yankees don’t draft high risk high reward players who deserve/want a lot of money. For example – they drafted Bichette, who took slot. Great pick, except that the right/risky thing was to go for Josh Bell. He would have cost $5M (it’s what Pitt paid for him), and they could still have picked Bichette in the next round. That would have substantially increased the Yankees budget. Go back a year. The could have picked Culver later, giving him the same money, and gone higher risk/reward with Taillison (another Pitt pick) who would have cost $4M. Same issue.

    • Jake H

      But part of what your not taking into account is that the Yankees didnt think either of those players was worthy of the bonus they got. Pittsburgh got a guy who cost 2 million who can’t throw strikes. These teams know a ton more then we do.

    • Ted Nelson

      That’s faulty logic right there… You are making big assumptions that Bell is a better prospect and that Bichette would still be available.

      • Greg

        both Bichette and Culver were rated lower than they were picked. Obviously, if the Yankees don’t pick them where they did, none of us know if they would be available later. But we can assume that they would be based on rankings. Bell and Taillison were just two guys I picked off the top of my head. There were plenty of other guys more highly rated who would have cost more money. My point only was that we would spend more if we drafted in the proper order, focusing on the expensive guys first and picking the cheaper guys later.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    Very good article Jake. Although this is all moot now with the new rules put forth by the Commissioner’s office. If Bud stays in that chair long enough, he will level the field alright by making all teams equally poor and unable to do business the capitalistic way. If everyone is equal there won’t be envies, complaints. Everyone will be happy and well. Except that the fans will stop going to the games because the product that is presented is not appealing. That is the way the communists do it.

    • Ted Nelson

      MLB is not “capitalistic”… It’s monopolistic.

      • Economist

        Capitalism is an ideology. A monopoly is a state of affairs in an industry.

        • Ted Nelson

          Thanks for stating the obvious. I studied Econ too.

          I put capitalistic in quotes because I felt Jose was likely using it as a synonym for free market system. Baseball is not at all a free market system. It’s artificially controlled by granting monopoly power. That’ more in the spirit of communism than any attempts to increase competition, which are more in the spirit of capitalism.

          • Plank

            I studied Econ too.

            Without a scan of your transcript, this can’t be presented here.