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Rays will have 11 of the top 75 picks in this year’s draft

Jan 14, 2011, 12:12 PM EDT

MLB First Year Player Draft Getty Images

This morning I noted that free agents departing the Rays this offseason have signed elsewhere for a total of $215 million and since then Grant Balfour raised that figure even higher by signing a multi-year deal with the A’s.

While most of the focus has understandably been on the Rays losing so much major-league talent, having that many Type A and Type B free agents leave in one offseason also means Tampa Bay will be absolutely flush with draft picks in June.

The draft order isn’t official yet because there are still several Type A and Type B free agents on the market, but based on early projections from Jim Callis of Baseball America and Jason Collette at Dock of the Rays, it looks like the Rays will have 11 of the first 75 picks in this year’s draft.

Here’s a rough estimate of where they’ll be picking come June and how they got each pick:

24 (Red Sox’s pick for Carl Crawford)
31 (Yankees’ pick for Rafael Soriano)
32 (Rays’ own pick)
38 (Supplemental pick for Soriano)
41 (Supplemental pick for Crawford)
42 (Supplemental pick for Balfour)
51 (Supplemental pick for Joaquin Benoit)
55 (Supplemental pick for Randy Choate)
58 (Supplemental pick for Brad Hawpe)
59 (Supplemental pick for Chad Qualls)
75 (A’s pick for Balfour)

Oh, and the Rays also have their own second-round pick, which is 88th overall, giving them 12 of the top 88 picks. Based on Victor Wang’s work on draft pick value over at The Hardball Times, those 12 picks are likely worth around $30 million in surplus value over the cost to sign them. That won’t help Tampa Bay contend in 2011, but it’ll go a long way toward keeping the farm system stocked for years to come.

  1. elmaquino - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Who needs Crawford?

  2. BC - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    That won’t help Tampa Bay contend in 2011, but it’ll go a long way toward keeping the farm system stocked for years to come….
    ….if they scout well and can sign all 12 of these guys.

    • florida76 - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:53 PM

      We also have to remember these prospects are simply that, most of these guys won’t make it. More importantly, it will take years for the Rays to contend again, and the attendance will decline even more. As early as 2019, ownership will be able to buyout the lease, so it’s a race against time for the Rays to get the new stadium they want.

      • okobojicat - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:56 PM

        years to content again? like 2011 and 2012?

      • florida76 - Jan 14, 2011 at 2:00 PM

        Yep, years to contend again, especially in the tough AL East. You forget how quickly the Rays fell to average in 2009, after the miracle season of 2008. Just six games over .500, and about a dozen games out of the wildcard.

        After last years playoff exit(not winning any games at home), and losing players like Crawford, etc. look for another mediocre season for the Rays. And you better believe the attendance will drop even more.

      • JBerardi - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:06 PM

        “We also have to remember these prospects are simply that, most of these guys won’t make it.”

        This is the worst cliche ever. The Rays have drafted extremely well in the past decade and this is a fantastic draft class. Yes, there’s a lot of uncertainty, but to just dismiss everything with “eh, they’re just prospects” is very ignorant of the realities of player development.

  3. BC - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Hey, wait. They didn’t get any picks for Pena?

    • joshv02 - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:02 PM

      BC: No, they didn’t offer Pena arbitration, so they get no picks for him.

      • BC - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:33 PM

        Ah. Thought they did. My bad.

  4. Panda Claus - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    This probably gives the O’s a two-year window at best before Tampa laps them again.

  5. dodger88 - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    While fans want their team to contend year in and year out, at least the Rays are setting themselves up for brief periods of struggling as they quickly re-tool. It is amazin how teams like the Pirates and Royals have utterly failed to do the same.

    • brianabbe - Jan 14, 2011 at 2:02 PM

      Exactly. When people point at Pittsburgh and Kansas City as proof of a broken economic system, that’s extremely misplaced. Kansas City has produced two true stars in the past 7-8 years, Greinke and Beltran. Pittsburgh produced Bay and Giles. If your drafting, scouting and development is that poor, do not blame the Yankees and Red Sox, blame yourselves.

      You don’t have to out bid those teams to sign your picks, and the cost of drafting and developing an ace pitcher or elite hitter even after a signing bonus is 5-10% of that of signing one on the free agent market. I will say, however, that Pittsburgh deserves kudos for their last couple of drafts. I just hope they can keep it up and bring themselves back to relevance. That’s a storied franchise that deserves better. Ditto for the Royals considering they were one of the best 5 teams in baseball regularly from 1975 to 1987.

    • florida76 - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:28 PM

      The “brief period of struggling” will be more than that, since the Rays reside in the AL East. It’s extremely difficult to replace the likes of Carl Crawford, and by the time Tampa is ready to contend again, they may be in another city.

      The 2008 Rays were truly a Cinderella team, but that AL pennant will likely turn out to be the highlight of their time in Florida. As bad as the Pirates and Royals have been, at least those franchises have world championships and hall of fame players, and aren’t relocating. Big difference.

      Player development is important, but that division is a killer, and everyone knows it. Expect the Rays to be a .500 team or worse for some time.

      • Bochy's Head/Timmy's Bong - Jan 14, 2011 at 7:06 PM

        A bit much on the doom-and-gloom, florida76. CAIRO has the Rays pegged for 87 wins in 2011. Sure, that could be off a bit, and they might be a .500 team. And then again, just as much chance that they find a bit of luck and are in the playoffs again.

  6. clydeserra - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    Are they going to pony up the money is the big question. Or are they going to be like the 2002 A’s, having great draft position but being too cheap to sign players that they could have picked. Ending up wasting on overdrafts. [cough] JeremyBrown [cough]

  7. metalhead65 - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    it is easy to see why they don’t have great fan base there. why get excited about all these prospects when those that do come thru will leave as free agents or be traded?sure they might be a good team for a couple of years but then they start all over again.what’s to be excited about?

    • florida76 - Jan 14, 2011 at 4:22 PM

      metalhead65, you hit the nail on the head. Also, when the Rays were horrible, the topic of the stadium’s location was rarely discussed, the mantra was that fans would come as soon as the team became competitive. But when the Rays shocked mlb with their turnaround, the attendance is still poor. Now all of a sudden, the location of the stadium is to blame. They can’t give away tickets when teams like the A’s roll into town.

      The Trop itself is a sterile environment for baseball, worse than even those old cookie cutter stadiums. With a decent facility, and time, mlb could succeed in the bay area. I’m one of the many northern transplants who rarely attended Rays games because I didn’t have a connection with the team. In time, people without those connections could provide the support, but this isn’t 2000. Ownership is unhappy, and has made that known in the media. Had the ’08 Rays finished the job with a world title, they might have gained a new stadium. But in these difficult economic times, a new facility is a long shot.

  8. Chris K - Jan 14, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    How many do the Blue Jays have? I may be grossly overestimating, but I feel like they should have a sizeable portion as well.

  9. steve7921 - Jan 14, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    How many games did Crawford pitch last year? Yes, he is a great player and will have a great season in Boston. But doesn’t pitching count for anything anymore? I will take Price, Niemann, Davis, Hellickson and Shields any day over Lester, Bucholz, Lackey, Dice-K and Beckett.

    • florida76 - Jan 14, 2011 at 5:12 PM

      The Rays bullpen has been destroyed this offseason, and that will drive down the win total from 2010. Losing a premier player like Crawford damages the offense as well, which puts more strain on the starting pitching.

      • Reflex - Jan 14, 2011 at 7:31 PM

        Your not very familiar with the Rays, judging by your posts. Desmond Jennings is considered by most to be a Crawford clone. They get a major upgrade at 2B and SS in Brignac and Rodriguez(have you *seen* how many HR’s Sean Rodriguez hit the last two years in the minors????). The offense will be just fine, in fact it may be better even if Jennings has growing pains.

        Pitching I think also improved. Hellickson has shown far more consistency than Garza, and the prospect they got for him should be ready next year or the year after and is himself a potential ace.

        Honestly with the Yankees in decline, and the Red Sox not improving their pitching, I think the Rays have as much shot this year and next as they did the last three years.

  10. florida76 - Jan 14, 2011 at 11:51 PM

    Reflex, everyone inside and outside the Rays organization knows this will be a rebuilding year. The young players you mentioned are unproven when compared to the talent playing for other clubs. Counting on Jennings to replicate Crawford this season is unrealistic. The list of failed prospects is a lengthy one in MLB, it’s the nature of the business. Tampa ownership slashed payroll for a reason-lack of fan support.

    You’re looking at a best case scenario of 84 wins, or the average performance of 2009, and the attendance will plummet. I have nothing against the Rays, they’ve over achieved in ’08 and ’10, but reality will set in soon.

    • Reflex - Jan 15, 2011 at 9:00 AM

      I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree then. I think getting rid of Bartlett in favor of Brignac is a significant upgrade. I think getting Zobrist off second in favor of a better defender and much bigger bat is an upgrade. I think that Crawford was always a bit overrated, all his value was in his speed and stolen bases simply aren’t as valuable as people want to believe.

      The biggest hole I see on that team right now is at first base. And quite frankly that was a hole the past couple seasons as well with Pena hitting well below the Mendoza line already. If they are smart they’ll put Zobrist at first and let Joyce and Jennings take the corners.

      And Hellickson in 2011 will be a significant upgrade over Garza in 2010.

      I’m not calling them to win the division. But they’ll be better than you seem to think. Around 90 wins IMO.

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