MLB Draft Signing Tracker - 85% Sports

85% Sports has put together a phenomenal MLB Draft Signing Tracker for the first 10 rounds of the draft.  It is a two part piece which shows the players, what they've signed for, the "slot" for each pick and how much the team exceeded/fell short of slot value.  It's a really great post and I recommend checking it out.

PLEASE - Click on this link to go to the 85% Sports Draft Signing Tracker.

Some of my observations... the chart confirms that teams are being extremely careful with their draft budgets (say goodbye to those Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg signing bonuses).  Given the severity of penalties that will be imposed under the new CBA/MLB Bonus Pool rules for excess spending violations, it's clear that teams are going to do whatever it takes to avoid breaching the allotted thresholds.  The new rules state that if a team is more than 5% over their allotted Bonus Pool they will be forced to forfeit a future draft pick.  The bonus pool allotment is the sum of each team's selections in the first ten rounds of the draft.  If a team is more than 15% over their assigned bonus pool, they will lose two future first-round draft picks and a $1 fine for every dollar over the limit... George Steinbrenner is probably rolling over in his friggin' grave.  Of the 75 picks signed so far, only 13 have went over-slot and no teams are in danger of breaching their bonus pool threshold.  Last year, by contrast, there were about twenty teams that would have exceeded the new bonus pool allotment.

The chart also confirms that the new rules have changed the mid and later round strategies of some teams that have grown accustomed to wooing high school players with signability concerns in the second and third rounds.  Larger market teams and teams without first-round picks have regularly taken second and third round gambles on really good high school players tied down by strong college commitments.  Those teams are unlikely to employ that approach under the new rules and will be more inclined to pick a surer thing in the earlier rounds.  Under the old rules, there were no penalties for overspending; the only risk a team made by negotiating over-slot was that the player wouldn't sign (a risk likely mitigated by prior discussions behind closed doors on the recruiting trail).  If the player signed, they landed a big fish in the second round.  If the player didn't sign, the farm didn't gain a prospect.  With the new rules, it's going to be tough for teams to employ that strategy because if that same player does sign for over-slot, it's going to create obvious bonus pool overage issues.  But further, and perhaps a greater challenge in negotiating this way, if that player doesn't sign, his slot figure still counts against the team's bonus pool allotment.  So if a player doesn't sign, a team not only loses out on that prospect but it also affects the team's ability to negotiate with its other draft picks.  My assumption (and the assumption of many) was that there would be more kids heading to college next year and perhaps more college signees, in general.  Looking at the second round, 10 of the first 14 picks were college players. That also means you'll likely see fewer unsigned second and third round picks and virtually no "pie in the sky" picks in those second and third rounds.  

Another consequence of the new rules... and this is an educated guess on my part... is that we'll likely see a much greater number of late signees.  Teams are going to be negotiating very carefully up until the deadline and then (and only then), as the negotiating period winds down, teams should have a better feel for what is left in their bonus pools and their overall needs, in general, which might lead them to lay a few extra dollars on the table for unsigned players.  


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