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Pirates and Nationals lead 2007-2011 draft spending at $52 million and $51 million

Aug 19, 2011, 1:20 PM EDT

Gerrit Cole - UCLA AP

Jim Callis of Baseball America crunched the numbers for the past five drafts and reports that the Pirates led all MLB teams in spending by handing out $52 million in total signing bonuses.

Much of that has to do with having the No. 1 pick once, the No. 2 pick twice, and the No. 4 pick twice during that five-year span, but this year for example the Pirates also shelled out $5.5 million on consensus top-10 talent Josh Bell after he dropped to them in the second round because of high bonus demands.

Joining the Pirates in spending more than $50 million during the past five drafts is the Nationals at $51 million, much of which went to back-to-back No. 1 overall picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.

Boston ranks fourth in 2007-2011 draft spending at $40 million despite not having any top-10 picks, which shows that the Red Sox are taking significant advantage of other teams passing on top prospects due to bonus demands. Similarly the Yankees have spent $34 million on draft picks since 2007, which is well above the “slot” recommendations for where their actual picks have been.

At the other end of the spectrum the White Sox spent just $18 million and the next-lowest team, the Marlins, spent $21 million. You can see the full breakdown by clicking here.

  1. shanemcdowell - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    It would be interesting to see a similar list, but with international signings factored in. Are teams that are spending through the draft also spending in the international market? Are some teams placing their bets more in one arena or the other?

  2. Matt Aromando - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    Down with “slot!”

    • natstowngreg - Aug 19, 2011 at 5:15 PM

      One of the points Callis and his BA colleagues like to make is that the teams who stick to slot suffer. The teams (most teams these days) that are willing to draft guys who slide due to signability concerns can often get those guys signed. The slotting system is already obsolete, as most teams ignore MLB’s pressure to restrict bonuses.

      For years, the “haves” who paid over slot and got 1st-round talent in lower rounds. It took a while for the “have nots” to figure out that this was a cheaper and more effective route. Callis was shocked that the Pirates signed Josh Bell. Likewise, there was at least a bit of shock in Natstown when Matt Purke signed. Bottom line is, the teams took significant risks in picking these guys, and got the deals done.

      This is the way the market will continue to work unless the next CBA includes “hard slots.” From what I’ve read on BA, doesn’t look like the union will go for it (unlike the NFL players agreeing to cut draftee contracts)..

      Of course, the real test is, once they’ve brought some of this young talent to the majors, will teams pay to keep that talent?

  3. sknut - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    You think after spending 56 million on Dunn the White Sox are re-thinking their strategy of only spending 18 million the last 5 years?

  4. proudlycanadian - Aug 19, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    The AL East is well represented among the big spenders. The 4th to the 7th place teams are in the AL East with the Yankees in 11th place. Of course, the Yankees had fewer high draft picks because they signed a lot of Free Agents.

  5. randall351 - Aug 19, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    I could make some sort of inflammatory statement about how you jump from No.1 and No.2 being the Pirates and Nationals, then completely jumping over No.3 to talk about Boston at No. 4 then the Yankees.
    And who does No.3 just so happen to be? The Kansas City Royals.
    But I think there’s been enough discussion about east coast biases and I don’t fill like starting another shit storm of comments from east coast fans, so I’ll just let it slide this time. :-)

    Perhaps I’ll just put you on my “on notice” board.

    • natstowngreg - Aug 19, 2011 at 4:59 PM

      Agreed, though the Royals have gotten a lot of attention over the past couple of years for their rebuilding efforts, including spending on draft picks.

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