The 2012 MLB Draft, also known as the Rule 4 Amateur draft, begins less than two weeks from now on June 4th. It will be the first draft under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that drastically altered both how and how much money a team can spend on amateur talent. Instead of having loose “slot guidelines” for each pick which a majority of teams simply chose to ignore, Major League Baseball implemented a hard slotting system. Unlike in previous years, if you exceed the budget on signing bonuses outlined by the Commissioner, there will be significant penalties. Baseball America describes the penalties as follows:
“Under the new rules, teams that exceed the signing budget by up to 5 percent will pay a 75 percent tax on the overage. Teams that go over by 5-10 percent will pay the same tax and lose a first-round pick in the next year’s draft. Teams that go over by 10-15 percent will pay a 100 percent tax and lose a first- and second-round pick. And finally, teams that go over by more than 15 percent will pay the 100 percent tax and lose their first-round picks in the next two drafts.”
As you can see, Major League Baseball has taken these changes very seriously, and given the value teams place upon their first round picks, it’s doubtful you’ll see any team spend over that 5% threshold.
Each team’s total budget is determined simply by adding up the specific value of each pick they possess within the first ten rounds. The first overall pick is given a monetary value, and every pick from second overall down to the end of the 10th round is a percentage of that first pick. In the 2012 draft, the Houston Astros have the first overall pick, and its monetary value has been placed at $7.2 million. Pick 338, the last pick of the 10th round owned by the Phillies, is worth $125,000.
The Toronto Blue Jays will have 14 picks in the first 10 rounds of the 2012 draft. The four extra picks come from failing to sign 2011 first round pick Tyler Beede (pick 22 overall), and losing Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, and Jose Molina to free agency (picks 50, 58, and 60 respectively). The total value of these picks is $8,830,800, with the details (via Baseball America) in the table below. The team with the highest budget is the Twins at over 12 million, while the Angels -– after signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson –- have the lowest budget at less than 2 million.
While the Blue Jays budget of roughly 8.8 million may seem low on first glance given how aggressive of an approach Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has on draft day, it’s actually not far off from what the Blue Jays spent on the first 10 rounds of the 2011 draft. Last year, the Blue Jays handed out 8.99 million dollars worth of bonuses to players selected in the first 10 rounds. It should be noted, however, that the money was spent on only 11 prospects, after four of the players selected couldn’t agree to terms with the club.
Another big change with the new CBA is that if a player doesn’t sign, you can’t simply reallocate that bonus money elsewhere –- it’s gone. This might have even more of an impact on draft strategies than the strict budgets, as teams like Toronto can no longer simply draft a plethora of high upside talent and sign who they can.
Underslot players –- i.e. those who are willing to sign for less than their draft slot entails –- could become gold on draft day. If, for example, the Blue Jays select a player 50th overall (pick value $1 million) who they know through conversations with the player’s family/advisor will sign for $700,000, they know they have an extra 300 thousand to spend on other players in their draft. Having a plan to select a few underslot players in the later rounds could give Anthopoulos the confidence to go over slot with his 17th overall pick, and perhaps land a player with demands upwards of 3 million dollars. He has used a similar strategy in the past, signing supplemental first round picks Joe Musgrove, Aaron Sanchez, and Noah Syndergaard to underslot deals in the last two drafts.
Mock drafts in previous years have been a bit of a crap shoot, and with this being the first draft with a completely different set of rules in place, no one knows what’s going to happen or who’s going where.
Despite this, Jared Macdonald and I will be detailing a series of players here on Jays Journal — one per day until the draft starting Wednesday — of who we feel would be good selections in the first round for the Blue Jays, to try and give Jays fans an idea of whose name they should hope to hear called when Bud Selig steps up to the podium to announce Toronto’s selection on Monday, June 4.