Cool Passan read:
The team's plan could be to offer that much to high school players seen more in range of picks 10 to 20 while being willing to spend upward of $10 million -- well over the $8.4 million Baltimore gets for the No. 1 overall pick this year -- on top-tier talent. So the best player says he's not signing for anything under $10 million ... and the team chooses him with its first-round pick. Another says he won't take a penny less than $9 million ... and he goes with the second-round pick. A third player says he'll go to college unless he gets $7 million ... and he goes to the team in the third round. And so on, for as many players as a team can get to agree to this.
It behooves the player, who gets paid far more than he would by teams adhering to slot. And the team can instantaneously build up its farm system and offer itself options: keep the players, develop them and reap the benefits of young, controllable talent, or dangle the players in trades, taking advantage of a far deeper farm system to target major league assets.
This is particularly tempting for the most successful teams, not just because the first-round picks they would give up carry significantly less slot value but because for teams in win-now mode, the ability to trade top prospects is a luxury few have. This would afford them that, and the only cost would be cash.
And it would be a lot. Let's not sugarcoat that. The perfect team this season would be the Boston Red Sox, who have a bad farm system, a great core and lots of money. Their bonus pool is an MLB-low $4,788,100. Say they convinced seven players to execute the plan and guaranteed them $50 million total. Their total outlay on those players alone would be closer to $96 million because of penalties.
It's still totally worth it. Seriously. Every executive surveyed said that the value of young players compared to what they get guaranteed in the draft is the single biggest bargain in baseball. If one of the seven players turns into a star, he is worth more than $96 million. If two of them grow into above-average major leaguers, they are worth more than $96 million. And that's to say nothing of their trade value.
The plan, in fact, has been executed on a smaller level. Before MLB instituted a hard cap on money spent on international amateurs, teams would annually blow through their bonus pools and accept the penalty of not being able to spend more than $300,000 on a player for the next two international signing periods. During the 2016-17 signing period, the San Diego Padres went on a frenzy, spending nearly $80 million on international players. When the bidding war over Cuban amateur Yoan Moncada ended, the Red Sox paid $31.5 million to him and happily doubled it because of the penalty.
Not even 18 months later, Boston traded Moncada, top pitching prospect Michael Kopech and two other prospects for Chris Sale, one of the best pitchers in baseball. That's what prospect capital offers. All the pre-arbitration contract extensions signed this winter -- at least a few of them will teem with marginal value, and the organizations with caches of prospects will be in the running to acquire them.
This sort of flexibility offers inherent value itself. Organizations crave the ability to pivot, to be creative, to weigh options, to settle on the best. Using the draft as a conduit to offer choices when rules restrict teams otherwise is a perfectly logical endpoint.
Outside of ownership’s nonsense, the Cubs would definitely fit the profile of a team that could do this. Basically sounds like treating the draft like a 7/2 period in which the team looks to blow past spending limits