The results of the first day of the 2012 MLB draft for the Jays:
Pick # 17 – took D.J. Davis (mlb.com rank #21)
Pick # 22 – Marcus Stroman (rank #10)
Pick # 50 – Matthew Smoral (rank #28)
Pick #58 – Mitch Nay (rank #101)
Pick #60 – Tyler Gonzales (rank #71)
Under the new system, each draft position has an amount of “slot” money allocated to it, with severe penalties if a team exceeds slot by more than 5% in aggregate.
The key words in the preceding sentence are “in aggregate”.
The slot amount for the 17th overall pick is $2 million. 22nd pick is $1.8 million, and the next three picks have slot amounts of $1 million, $884K and $857K. Total for those 5 picks = $6.54 million. When you add in the 5% that teams can exceed their budget without losing draft picks in future years, the total the Jays can spend on these first 5 picks without sacrificing money for future picks is $6.87 million.
Problem is, players like Stroman and Smoral might be tough signs, as they were drafted lower than they were ranked. The Jays could of course argue that the rankings are artificial, and that the players were drafted where they were drafted, but some compromise might be required.
Suppose that for Stroman and Smoral the Jays agreed to pay them at the slot amount for the average of the place they were drafted and the place they were ranked? That would mean paying Stroman like a 16th overall pick and Smoral like a 39th overall. Which would work out to $2.125 million for Stroman and $1.325 for Smoral, or a total of $5.45 million for the first three picks.
Looking a bit tight, if we have only $6.87 million to play with for the first 5 picks? True. But suppose that the Jays make the same deal with Nay and Gonzales. They agree to pay them the slot amount for the average of the position they were actually drafted and their pre-draft ranking. On that basis, Nay would be paid as an 80th overall pick (average of 58 and 101) and Gonzales would be paid as a 65th overall (average of 60 and 71). On that basis, Nay would get $630K and Gonzales would get $794K. Added to the $5.45 million for the first three picks, the total cost to sign all 5 would be $6.87 million.
Now, where have I seen that number before?
It would be to Nay and Gonzales’ benefit to agree, as otherwise they would logically be picked at their pre-draft rankings, which would earn them far less money.
This might well be an indicator of how A-squared plans to play the game under the new rules. Pick a couple of players with high upside but signability issues, and then deliberately underpick in later rounds to create the budget flexibility to afford them.
It is a strategy that a team with a weak farm system would not be able to adopt – the potential cost of missing out on a David Wright or Adam Jones (both of whom were taken in the sandwich round) would be too great. But for a team with a strong system, 3 players with high upside might be more valuable than 5 players with moderate upside.
Certainly, if the Jays can sign all three of David, Stroman and Smoral they will have once again have to be considered a significant “winner” in the draft!