Amateur Links: First Round Slot, Top 100, IFAs


(Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

We’re less than four weeks away from the amateur draft and less than eight weeks away from the start of the international free agent signing period, the two primary ways for teams to acquire young talent. The new Collective Bargaining agreement really hampers things with its new spending restrictions — designed to keep money away from the players and in the owner’s pockets — but there’s nothing that can be done about that. It’s just a new challenge for the 30 front offices, essentially.

We’re probably still a few weeks away from hearing about the Yankees having interest in specific players, but there’s still a ton of draft and international free agent news to recap. Let’s get to it…

First Round Slot Money: $1.6M

The Yankees will have just north of $4.19M to spend on the first ten rounds of the draft this year thanks to the new CBA, and $1.6M of that $4.19M is the slot value for their first round pick  (#30 overall) according to Jim Callis. That’s up about 46% from last year’s slot value and if the Yankees pay their first rounder straight slot money, it will be the sixth largest bonus they’ve ever given to a drafted player.

Teams can exceed slot for individual picks without penalty, but they can’t do the same for the draft pool overall. So the Yankees can pay their first rounder for than $1.6M but can’t pay their picks in the top ten rounds more than $4.19M collectively if they want to avoid surrendering future picks and paying the tax.

Law’s Top 100 Draft Prospects

Players have mostly sorted themselves out now that the college and high school seasons are nearly complete, and we have a clearer picture of who will be selected when. Injury is probably the biggest factor at the point, at least in terms of a player drastically changing their draft status. Keith Law posted his list of the top 100 draft prospects two days ago, though you do need a subscription to read the entire thing. Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton remains atop the rankings and is now followed by Puerto Rico high school shortstop Carlos Correa. The consensus seems to be that if you want impact talent this year, you’re going to have to go after prep players. The college crop is solid but not mind-blowing like last year.

Personal fave Carson Kelly, a high school third baseman/right-hander from Oregon, ranks 27th on KLaw’s list. That gives me some hope that he’ll be around when the Yankees pick, not that I expect them to draft him or anything. Here’s my write-up on Kelly.

Gaming The International Free Agent System

The new CBA has restricting spending on international free agents as well, an avenue the Yankees have used to acquire young talent quite prominently throughout the years. Each club will have $2.9M to spend on international players this year (starting July 2nd) before switching over to a sliding scale based on winning percentage in the future. The more you win, the less you get to spend.

Ben Badler wrote about how teams can essentially get around that $2.9M limit this year, including some shady under-the-table dealings. The article is free for everyone, so you don’t need a subscription. It’s worth noting that the article is speculative and not actual reporting of what teams have been/will be doing. I know this much though: if there’s a loophole in the system, someone will exploit it.

  • Ted Nelson

    As much whining as the new CBA has elicited, it’s really not oppressive at all. That’s about what the Yankees would be spending anyway, and they’re towards the higher end of spending usually. It will get more regressive when the IFA rules go fully into effect, of course.

    “It’s just a new challenge for the 30 front offices, essentially.”

    Sort of. It’s a new set of rules to play by, but everyone is playing by the same rules. Amateur players will still sign, just for less money than before (at least the top talents). On the whole I would imagine FOs do not see the draft rules as a challenge, but rather as a blessing. Agents can’t bend you over anymore, because you have a hard negotiating tool to point to. In terms of IFA… suppose good teams will see it as a challenge and bad teams as a blessing. That’s been the point of amateur drafts in major US sports for decades, so it’s hardly something new.

    • Ted Nelson

      The old IFA system was basically a loophole in the first place. International players are subject to the draft in the other major US sports already. The old system sort of defeated the point of having a draft.

    • YankeeGrunt

      It IS oppressive, because you cannot sign someone for overslot, generally speaking, without signing someone else for slot. And if you don’t sign someone, you lose their anticipated share of that money.

      • YankeeGrunt

        Rather, without signing someone else for underslot.

  • Will

    I hate the new CBA. How else are teams like the Yankees who draft late going to get talent? Putting a cap on the draft and international signings is absurd. No kids are going to want to pursue baseball after college or high school. All the good athletes will go play in the NFL or NBA where they play you soon after you’re drafted and pay bigger bonuses. We’re going to end up with a whole bunch of Ramiro Penas and Rodrigo Lopezes.

    • Preston

      This is a false narrative. About 30 percent of major league players are born outside the U.S., and the rate is even higher in MILB. People in Asia and Latin America aren’t going to not come to America to play baseball because they will only be offered a million dollars instead of two. As for athletes choosing different sports, this might be true for the players it applies to. But there isn’t that huge of a cross-over. Some CF, SS athlete prospects are also WR/DB or PG prospects and a couple of pitchers are also QB prospects, but it isn’t a huge amount. And quite frankly the option is go to college for x sport or collect a paycheck now. Baseball will still be a draw for for HS athletes that don’t want to go to college. And players that do go to college will probably try to play both sports and they’ll end up playing the one they’re best at, not the one they think will make the most money, because you don’t make money if you aren’t good. The Deion Sander’s and Brian Jordan’s of the world are few and far between. Most people can’t make it as both.

    • A.D.

      All the good athletes will go play in the NFL or NBA where they play you soon after you’re drafted and pay bigger bonuses.

      But you’re not drafted for at least 1 year in hoops and at least 3 in football, so the quick, guaranteed money is still in baseball. That and some bonuses are to buy people away, but many are not, Strasburg, Harper, Ackley & Co. were not dual sport athletes

    • jjyank

      I agree with those above me and would also like to add that baseball has the allure of the biggest potential future paydays. There are no hard salary caps and while a long shot, the potential of a $50-$200 million dollar contract is there. Maybe you get a small handful of guys once in awhile that pursue another sport instead, but I don’t think the CBA is going to have that big of a deterrence on high school/college players.

      • Ted Nelson

        Agree, especially because there are disincentives in other sports too.

        NBA has hard slotting in the first round, teams give mostly non-guaranteed contracts in the 2nd round, and a one year post HS/18 age restriction that they’re talking about increasing. Plus, it’s a lot harder for shorter and even tall but not really tall guys to make it to the NBA. Not sure about their new CBA, but NFL rookie salaries aren’t great after the first couple of rounds. There’s a 3 year after graduating HS rule, and a big disincentive in terms of violence and long-term health.

        Players always had those options, as well as having international basketball as a fall back.

    • Ted Nelson

      Did you miss the part where the slot bonus of $1.6 million would be the 6th highest bonus the Yankees have ever paid a player out of the draft? You literally cannot be paid $1.6 million at 18 by either the NBA or NFL, because both leagues have restrictions on age/years out of HS. (I suppose an 18 year old football player who graduated HS at 15 could get paid…)

      One large point of a draft is to make it harder for good teams to get amateur talent than bad teams. That is nothing new. You can oppose it, but it’s decades old and practiced throughout major US sports.

      It’s definitely a risk that the overall quality of baseball players will decline. I’m sure MLB has analyzed it a bit after the Puerto Rico drop off in talent. I think that the bonus pools are still enough money to attract plenty of talent.

  • viridiana

    “It’s a new set of rules to play by, but everyone is playing by the same rules”

    Everyone is NOT playing by the same rules when on-field excellence is punished with low draft picks and low budgets.
    This is an extension of the same logic that has been used to penalize the Yankees (and presumably keep a lid on player salaries) ever since the draft was implemented. The result has been a ceaseless spiralling in salaries as the Yankees and other successful franchises have been forced into spending big on free agents and international prospects to gain equal access to top talent.
    Selig– with his roots and ties to a small market franchise — has made the containmnet of big-market franchises (OK, basically the Yankees) his over arching goal. The new CBS is the culmination of that effort.
    From the point of view of small market and poor performing franchises this is all fair. From the point of view of teams like the Yankees it should be seen for what it is. From the point of view of kids outside the US it is rffort to control their income-earning potential that may be proved illegal should it be challenged in court.

    • LiterallyFigurative

      Two phrases:

      Collective Bargaining Agreement


      Anti-Trust Exemption

      If the IFA spending limits and salary restrictions are illegal, then draft slotting, rookie draft pick salary caps, minimum age requirements and such would be against the rules in all sports.

      • A.D.

        The issue is that the Latin American amateurs (or any amateur) were not part of the collective bargaining agreement, therefore the Players Association was able to effectively sell non members up the river since their voice was not heard

        • Ted Nelson

          NBA has hard slotting in the draft. It is not illegal.

          • A.D.

            It’s not but that doesn’t mean that amateurs are not represented

    • Ted Nelson

      Yes, everyone is playing by the same rules. Regardless of what team plays better on-field, they will get a lower pick and draft slot.

      This is what the draft has done for decades. It’s nothing new. It happens in NFL, NBA, NHL… it’s the American way in sports. American sports are not capitalistic. It’s an oligopoly.

      “The result has been a ceaseless spiralling in salaries as the Yankees and other successful franchises have been forced into spending big on free agents and international prospects to gain equal access to top talent.”

      Right… that’s the only factor at play there. The draft. Nothing to do with free agency, you know, being implemented. Nothing to do with revenues skyrocketing and the union’s bargaining.

      “Selig– with his roots and ties to a small market franchise — has made the containmnet of big-market franchises (OK, basically the Yankees) his over arching goal.”

      Baseball is BY FAR the most friendly major US sport to big market teams. BY FAR.

      “From the point of view of kids outside the US it is rffort to control their income-earning potential that may be proved illegal should it be challenged in court.”

      Uh, no. It would not be.

  • JohnC

    Couple of other intriguing names Yanks may be linked to. I like OF Lewis Brinson better than Kelly. Brinson was another name Mike mentioned. If SS Tanner Rahier is still there when Yanks pick, I’d grab him. Yanks still have no clear cut sucessor for Derek Jeter. At this point, Cito Culver hasn’t distinguished himself as the answer

  • LiterallyFigurative


    Baseball is forcing the Yankees to spend money like the other 29 teams. No Fair!

    I want the GI Joe (with the Kung-Fu grip) AND an Atari for Christmas!”

    Between this and the $189 million payroll ceiling, you’d think the Yankees were becoming the Pirates. All the pissing and moaning and trying to devise plans to circumvent the rules is annoying.

    • jjyank

      I certainly get why some fans are annoyed. We’ve been spoiled for a long time by having the means to grab the shiny new free agent toy or the intriguing IFA guy. But I agree that it’s being blow out of proportion by many and the Yankees will still find away to be competitive. The only thing that really bugs me is that the Yankees got locked into a couple of monster contracts before they knew the degree to which it would hamstring them with the next CBA. $189 mil is a plenty big budget to field a contender year after year, but I wonder what decisions the Yankees would have made regarding guys like A-Rod and Tex if they know they would eventually be trying to get under a budget in 2014.

    • V

      Do you wake up in the morning prepared to troll the internet?

      • jjyank

        If you think that’s a troll post, you haven’t been here very long. He’s not trolling, he’s saying that the reaction to the budget is overblown.

      • Havok9120


        Saying other people’s points are silly and why they’re silly is not trolling. Especially since he’s willing to debate on it.

  • Leg-End

    Is Jorge Soler any closer to getting free agent status and are the Yankees going to spend on him if it happens before the deadline? its basically one last oppurtunity to spend some unrestricted cash.

    • Havok9120

      No one knows anything aboutt either of these questions.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    “How are the Yankees supposed to get talent?”

    Good scouting and development. You may not get Bryce Harper or Strasburg, but you weren’t going to get them anyway without being bad or mediocre (shameful in Yankee-land).

    Promote from within and stop giving away first round picks for marginal additions.

    • Kevin Winters

      Good scouting and development.

      Good luck with that

    • jjyank

      That’s kind of what I’ve been saying in the past. There is a limit for directly signing players, but nobody can tell the Yankees how much money they can spend on increasing their presence in foreign countries, upgrading existing facilities in foreign countries, hiring more scouts, investing in new/increased statistical personnel, etc. They’ll find a way.

      • Kevin Winters

        increasing their presence in foreign countries, upgrading existing facilities in foreign countries, hiring more scouts, investing in new/increased statistical personnel, etc.


        Do you think they’re actually going to do that?

        • jjyank

          I have about as much evidence to believe that as you do to not believe it. So what’s your point? It could happen, or it could not. And they very well might do one or two of those things.

        • Ted Nelson

          Yes, because they’ve been doing it for years now.

          You don’t always have to spend tons of money to sign a good player. There’s a lot of area to cover in Latin America. By being in “peripheral” (i.e. not DR or Venezuela) countries to a degree other teams weren’t the Yankees have uncovered guys from Mo to Mendoza (don’t actually know his bonus) to Aceves and Banuelos on the cheap.

          Teams in general have been increasing their presence, building academies, etc. for years.

        • Havok9120

          You mean do the exact thing that they, more than most/any teams in baseball, have been doing for years?

          Why yes. Yes I do. Shocking, I know.

          You’re right if you’re saying that such programs and scouting/development aren’t perfect replacements for what we’re losing with the CBA. Which doesn’t mean that its worthless.

    • voodoo

      Please identify your rooting allegiance. I can’t tell whether you are literally or figuratively a fraud.

  • A.D.

    With the new CBA, my issue is not with the caps, but the specific team budgets and losing of pool money from missing pick sign despite still having soft slotting

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    I don’t see how anyone can make a reasonable case that these caps aren’t going to hurt the Yankees.

    The 3 ways they can flex their financial advantages over the rest of the league were paying over slot in the draft, paying whatever they wanted for international FAs and signing MLB free agents.

    Now, 2 of those avenues have been shut down which is going to lead to them signing more AJ Burnett’s and Carl Pavano’s, etc unless the Yankees all of a sudden become a whole lot smarter in drafting and player development which isn’t realistic.

    • jjyank

      I don’t doubt that it will hurt them, but I disagree with the amount it will. A team with a $189 mil payroll can still be competitive year after year.

    • Ted Nelson

      It changes the way they do things, but doesn’t necessarily hurt them. It makes things fairer, IMO, which is a good thing. If they’re on a more even playing field and can’t compete, I don’t feel bad for them.

      They’re still planning to spend $189 million on their MLB team, which is still a huge advantage over most teams.

      It’s not a big change in the draft. The Yankees can give their 6th largest bonus ever to their 1st rounder this season, according to the article. The Yankees have not historically been big draft spenders (probably rightly so since they don’t draft early), so this is really not a big change. 10 teams gave out $10 mill in bonuses last season, and the Yankees were not one of them. I believe that they spent something over $5 mill.

      The IFA pool this season should be fair. Every team has the same amount, and $3 mill isn’t bad. Once it becomes regressive it will sting a bit. They’ll have to be more discerning, but bonuses should come down across the board and they should be able to still get a good amount of talent.

      How many more Pavano’s and Burnett’s can they sign? They already sign plenty of big FAs. P (and player in general) development was a weakness middle of last decade that they identified and literally have gotten smarter in acquiring and developing pitchers since that time. The results of that have already come through for them (Robertson, Joba, Hughes, Nova, Phelps, IPK, Melancon, Arodys, Noesi) and may really come through in the next few years, as a lot of the guys from the new regime haven’t gotten to MLB yet. Behind Nova and Phelps there is a lot of potential: Pineda, Banuelos, Betances, Mitchell, Warren, Marshall, Campos, Montgomery, etc., etc. That pipeline was not there when Pavano was signed and was just coming into place them Burnett was.

  • Tom lic luc

    Perhaps con tracts entered into before the CBA shouldn’t count or can be renegotiated

    • JAG

      Not sure how it would even work if they didn’t count at all, and the Union would never allow them to be renegotiated.

  • Endlessmike

    The yankees in the second and third round should take adavantage of great but not heard of Puerto Rican players.RHP J.O Berrios and RHP Edwin Diaz have first round talent but can fall in the draft.Also Wilfred Rodriguez is a great looking catcher you can get in the third or fouth round.

    The yankees tend not to get the best first rounders but always find diamonds in the rough in the later rounds.

    • G

      See one Mason Williams.

      Ok so that was about a college commitment not being under the radar. Point is we can still find great players beyond the first round.