November 2011

More CBA goodies

I’m not sure if I’m in the whole “the more I found out, the less I know” area with all of this stuff, but I might be close. But I do have more information on how some of this Collective Bargaining Agreement stuff will work in terms of the Draft. Stay tuned to a series of stories over on in the coming days to explain it in more detail, with reaction from people in the industry. For now, some more nuts and bolts:

  • If a Club does not sign a pick, its signing bonus pool is reduced by the amount of the pick.  So, for example, if a Club does not sign its first round pick, and its first round pick had a slot of $1.5 million, the Club’s signing bonus pool would be reduced by $1.5. This is true of any unsigned pick, not just those covered by compensation. The main idea here was to not create incentive for a team to NOT sign a pick. Without this safeguard, a team could “punt” a pick in order to divert those funds to another pick later on, which could result in a Draft that would look a lot like the old ones. In the next year’s draft, the Club would receive a compensation selection for failing to sign its first, second or third round selections, and the slot assigned to the compensation selection will be added to its signing bonus pool.
  • In the new system, the total aggregate pool in the 10 slotted rounds will be $185 million. With an estimate of $20 million spent after the 10th round (remember, bonuses up to $100,000 do not count toward a team’s aggregate pool), that means teams could spend a combined total of $205 million without getting penalized. That total of $205 million is higher than every Draft from 2004-2010.  Spending in past years: $159 million (2006); $155 million (2007); $198 million (2009) and $200 million in 2010.

Some context to consider:

  • Signing bonus inflation since 2006 has certainly impacted teams picking at the top of the Draft. In 2011, 23 players got bonuses higher than what Tim Lincecum got ($2.025 million) as the No. 10 overall pick in 2006. 11 players in 2011 got more than Evan Longoria’s bonus as the No. 3 selection that year ($3 million).
  • Four Clubs that spent the most money in excess of MLB’s slotting recommendations from 2007-2010 were the Nationals (Strasburg, Harper), Tigers, Red Sox and Yankees. That does offset the notion that the small-market/small-revenue clubs have used the Draft system the most, though when you look 2009-2011, the Royals and Pirates climb into that upper group. Still, not quite the slam-dunk people have said it was in terms of the new system hurting the smaller clubs.

First story in in the series on will be explaining in detail how this Competitive Balance Lottery will work.


The new CBA — what the top 10 picks are worth

I’m getting more and more details about how the new CBA will work in terms of the Draft and international signings and I promise to share them all with you as the picture becomes more clear. Some of that will come in the form of stories and I’ll use the B3 space for tidbits here and there. And believe me, there’s a lot. Truthfully, no one knows just yet how this will impact anything with the Draft and might not until everyone goes through it a time or two. Yes, there will be some bumps, especially with the market correction in the first year, but I think it too soon to presume certain teams will be ruined/destroyed/greatly hampered by this new system.

Anyway, one bit of info I wanted to pass along now.  Those of you following this saga know that the way it will be set up will be with each team having  a certain “Signing Bonus Pool” — an amount of money a team is allowed to spend in the Draft without being charged a tax or the forfeiture of draft pick(s). Teams picking at the top of the Draft will have a larger pool. In 2012, the Astros will have the largest pool at $11.5 million. That figure comes from adding up the values of every pick they will have, as of now, in rounds 1-10.

I have been able to obtain the values assigned to the top 10 picks in the Draft. It doesn’t give the complete picture — I hope to get more information soon — but you can see how MLB valued the top of the Draft:

1 — $7.2 million
2 — $6.2 million
3 — $5.2 million
4 — $4.2
5 — $3.5
6 — $3.25
7 — $3
8 — $2.9
9 — $2.8
10 — $2.7

This doesn’t mean a team picking No. 4, for example, can’t go over $4.2 million to sign that pick, but it all goes toward that aggregate pool.  As a comparison, take a look at what the Nos. 1-10 picks got in 2011. Keep in mind, some of these were Major League deals, which are no longer allowed. But in any deal — even a two-sport contract spread over five years — would be included in total against that year’s pool.

1 — Gerrit Cole: $8 million
2 — Danny Hultzen: $6.35
3 — Trevor Bauer: $3.4
4 — Dylan Bundy: $4
5 — Bubba Starling: $7.5
6 — Anthony Rendon: $6
7 — Archie Bradley: $5
8 — Francisco Lindor: $2.9
9 — Javier Baez: $2.65
10 — Cory Spangenberg: $1.863

Not too far off, right, with an exception or two. And the Diamondbacks giving Bradley $5 million is more than the $3 million value for the No. 7 pick now, but they saved in the aggregate with Trevor Bauer’s deal. In the new system, those two picks are valued at $8.2 million. Bauer and Bradley got $8.4 million.

This is far from a complete picture, obviously, and I hope to paint that as time goes on and more details become known. But it’s a little bit of a look at the fact that perhaps this isn’t as doomsday-ish as some early reactions made it out to be.

Much, much more to come.

The new CBA and amateur players

I’m still sorting through all the details, as best as I can, on the new CBA and how it impacts the amateur scene. Needless to say, this changes the Draft and the international signing landscape tremendously. There will be a more concrete story coming in a bit, but the first reaction is that teams like the Pirates and Royals, smaller-revenue teams who have used their resources to be aggressive in the Draft (and in international signings to an extent) are going to be handcuffed by this. But that’s just a gut reaction. Much more to come.

For now, though, I’m posting the parts of the CBA that pertain to the amateur scene here, broken out from the entire agreement:

a. Free Agency
1. All eligible Players will become free agents as of the end of the World Series, with no
election required, and the “quiet period” will be five days.
2. The tender date will be December 2 beginning in 2012.
3. Article XX(B) free agents signing minor league contracts who are not added to the
Opening Day roster or unconditionally released 5 days prior to Opening Day shall receive
an additional $100,000 retention bonus and the right to opt out on June 1.
b. Draft Pick Compensation
1. Starting in 2012, “Type A” and “Type B” free agents and the use of the Elias ranking
system will be eliminated.
2. The current system of draft pick compensation will be replaced with the following
A. Only Players who have been with their Clubs for the entire season will be subject
to compensation.
B. A free agent will be subject to compensation if his former Club offers him a
guaranteed one-year contract with a salary equal to the average salary of the
125-highest paid Players from the prior season. The offer must be made at the
end of the five-day free agent “quiet period,” and the Player will have seven days
to accept the offer.
C. A Club that signs a player subject to compensation will forfeit its first round
selection, unless it selects in the top 10, in which case it will forfeit its secondhighest
selection in the draft.
D. The Player’s former Club will receive a selection at the end of the first round
beginning after the last regularly scheduled selection in the round. The former
Clubs will select based on reverse order of winning percentage from the prior
championship season.
c. Salary Arbitration Eligibility
1. The percentage of players with two years of service who will be arbitration eligible will
be increased from the top 17% to the top 22% in terms of service.
2. All players tied at the 22% cutoff will be eligible for arbitration.
d. Minimum Salaries
1. Major League will increase from $414,000 in 2011 to: $480,000 in 2012; $490,000 in
2013; and $500,000 in 2014; COLA in 2015 and 2016.
2. Minor League will increase from $67,300 in 2011 to: $78,250 in 2012; $79,900 in 2013;
and $81,500 in 2014; COLA in 2015 and 2016.
e. Rule 4 Draft
1. The draft will continue to be conducted in June, but the signing deadline will be moved
to a date between July 12 and July 18 depending on the date of the All-Star Game.
2. Drafted players may only sign Minor League contracts.
3. Signing Bonus Pools
A. Each Club will be assigned an aggregate Signing Bonus Pool prior to each draft.
For the purpose of calculating the Signing Bonus Pools, each pick in the first 10
rounds of the draft has been assigned a value. (These values will grow each year
with the rate of growth of industry revenue.) A Club’s Signing Bonus Pool equals
the sum of the values of that Club’s selections in the first 10 rounds of the draft.
Players selected after the 10th round do not count against a Club’s Signing
Bonus Pool if they receive bonuses up to $100,000. Any amounts paid in excess
of $100,000 will count against the Pool.
B. Clubs that exceed their Signing Bonus Pools will be subject to penalties as
Excess of Pool Penalty (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)
• 0-5% 75% tax on overage
• 5-10% 75% tax on overage and loss of 1st round pick
• 10-15% 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st and 2nd round picks
• 15%+ 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st round picks in next two drafts
4. Proceeds generated by the tax will be distributed to payee Clubs under the Revenue Sharing
Plan that do not exceed their Signing Bonus Pools. Draft picks that are forfeited by Clubs will
be awarded to other Clubs through a lottery in which a Club’s odds of winning will be based
on its prior season’s winning percentage and its prior season’s revenue. Only Clubs that do
not exceed their Signing Bonus Pools are eligible for the lottery.
5. Competitive Balance Lottery
A. For the first time, Clubs with the lowest revenues and in the smallest markets will
have an opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery.
B. The ten Clubs with the lowest revenues, and the ten Clubs in the smallest
markets, will be entered into a lottery for the six draft selections immediately
following the completion of the first round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning
the lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage.
C. The eligible Clubs that did not receive one of the six selections after the first
round, and all other payee Clubs under the Revenue Sharing Plan, will be
entered into a second lottery for the six picks immediately following the
completion of the second round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning the
lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage.
D. Picks awarded in the Competitive Balance Lottery may be assigned by a Club,
subject to certain restrictions.
E. Top 200 prospects will be subject to a pre-draft drug test and will participate in a
pre-draft medical program.
f. International Talent Acquisition
1. By December 15, 2011, the parties will form an International Talent Committee to
discuss the development and acquisition of international players, including the potential
inclusion of international amateur players in a draft or in multiple drafts.
2. For the 2012-13 signing season, each Club will be allocated an equal Signing Bonus
3. For each signing period after 2012-13, Clubs will be allocated different Signing Bonus
Pools, based on reverse order of winning percentage the prior championship season
(i.e., the Club with the lowest winning percentage the prior season shall receive the
largest Pool).
4. Bonus Regulation of International Amateur Players
A. Beginning in the 2013-2014 signing period (July 2, 2013 – June 15, 2014), Clubs
may trade a portion of their Signing Bonus Pool, subject to certain restrictions.
B. Clubs that exceed their Signing Bonus Pools will be subject to the following
penalties in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 signing periods:
Excess of Pool Penalty (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)
• 0-5% 75% tax
• 5-10% 75% tax and loss of right to provide more than one player in the next signing period with a bonus in
excess of $500,000.
• 10-15% 100% tax and loss of right to provide any player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of
• 15%+ 100% tax and loss of right to provide any player in the next signing period with a bonus in excess of
C. The penalties for exceeding the Signing Bonus Pool will increase beginning with
the 2014-2015 signing period if a draft or drafts is not agreed to by July 2014.
5. All international amateur players must register with the Scouting Bureau to be eligible to
sign, and the top 100 prospects will be subject to a drug test.
6. The Office of the Commissioner and the Union will form a joint committee to assist
international players with their transition to educational/vocational programs after their
baseball careers are over.


Remembering Greg Halman

Yesterday, as I tried to get reaction to the tragic news of Greg Halman’s death, I tried to make some sense of it. I was certainly not alone in that futile effort. In the end, there is no sense to be made and the best anyone can do is try to remember the mark this young man left on those who’s path he crossed.

I was reminded of that particularly by an email I received yesterday. It came from Lynda Goldstein, who reached out to tell her story of how she and her husband came to know Halman. Rather than try to find the right words myself, I’m going to let her do it (with her permission):

My husband and I live in Florida (transplanted New Yorkers and avid Yankees fans). We were at the 2008 Superbowl in Phoenix Arizona for the Giants/Patriots game.  We were staying at the hotel where the Seattle  farm teams practiced.  The sports complex was across the street from our hotel.  We would sit in the lobby in the morning and in the afternoon when the guys would come in from their day of practice. We started up a friendship with Greg and a friend of his on the team, Alex Liddi.  We can not tell you what a wonderful young man he was and he tugged at our hearts and we just could never forget him. We were there for several days and had great conversations with the young men.

We told them both that we would follow their careers and we were true to our word. When Greg was playing for the Netherlands in Miami for the World Classic Baseball games, we were there.  We arrived at the game early so that we could try to catch him and we did get his attention. He just couldnt believe that we were there to watch him.  We all were so excited!!!!!

I just want to say that when my husband and I heard of this tragedy I called the Mariners office and also e-mailed them. I just want you to know that this young man touched our hearts. I told the Mariners today that they could be so proud as he represented them so well.  He was only 20 when we met him.  We are extremely saddened by his untimely death.  We will never forget that beautiful smile that he had.  We hope and pray that he is smiling down on all of us now.  You were a special young man Greg and I wish I could find your family to let them know how much we  thought of you.

Thank you, Lynda, for being willing to share that. I’ll leave you with this. Back in 2009, Halman attended the Rookie Career Development Program. My colleague at the time Lisa Winston had the pleasure of doing a video interview with him (we do one for each organization every year). Here is a link to that interview.

Greg Halman at the Rookie Career Development Program

AFL in the rear-view mirror

Well, it was a fine final week in the Arizona Fall League, capped off by Salt River’s championship game victory on Saturday. If you missed it, Nolan Arenado was named the league’s MVP and Kevin Mattison was named this year’s Stenson Award winner.

Now it’s time to look toward the Winter Meetings and, most importantly for this space, the Rule 5 Draft. There will be plenty of coverage of it, along with any prospects involved in trades, so stay tuned. In my last post, I began a list of players in the AFL who had been added to 40-man rosters. Here, now, is the complete list of all 27 AFLers who earned roster spots (thank you, Rob Morse from the AFL):

Surprise (4)

RHP Dan Jennings (MIA)
OF Kevin Mattison (MIA)
RHP Justin Miller (TEX)
RHP Neil Ramirez (TEX)

Salt River (7)

LHP Casey Crosby (DET)
LHP Matt Hoffman (DET)
IF Hernan Perez (DET)
RHP Tyler Stohr (DET)
OF Alex Castellanos (LAD)
RHP Stephen Fife (LAD)
RHP Josh Wall (LAD)

Mesa (3)

LHP Jeff Beliveau (CHC)
IF Junior Lake (CHC)
IF/OF Josh Vitters (CHC)

Peoria (5)

RHP Santo Manzanillo (MIL)
3B Zelous Wheeler (MIL)
LHP Robert Carson (NYM)
OF Juan Lagares (NYM)
OF Chih-Hsien Chiang (SEA)

Phoenix (3)

2B Corban Joseph (NYY)
RHP David Phelps (NYY)
LHP Evan Crawford (TOR)

Scottsdale (5)

3B Will Middlebrooks (BOS)
SS Jean Segura (LAA)
LHP Jacob Diekman (PHI)
OF Tyson Gillies (PHI)
C Derek Norris (WSH)

Finally, one last video interview to share with you. Hopefully, this will be used for a story on 2011 first-round picks and the AFL. For now, you can enjoy my chat with No. 2 overall pick Danny Hultzen, who happened to also be No. 2 on my AFL Top 25 prospects list.

Wrapping things up in the AFL

Just one more game to go, Saturday’s championship game (3 p.m. ET, MLB Network, Feel free to read my preview to prep for the game.

In that story, there’s a video interview with Salt River starter (and Diamondbacks prospect) Charles Brewer. Here’s the entire video, during which we talk about the championship game, pitching at home and what an absolutely ridiculous rotation he was a part of in Double-A Mobile. Here’s the full interview for your viewing pleasure.


Today’s a big day for many players in the AFL, not just the ones playing for Salt River and Surprise. There were close to 70 players on AFL rosters this fall who either need  to be put on a 40-man roster or be left available for the Rule 5 Draft. The list includes some former first-rounders and a number of players who performed well in Arizona. Since my story was posted on the subject, teams have been announcing the roster additions in stages (the dadline is midnight).  Kevin Mattison, who is quoted in the story, was added to the 40-man by the Marlins. By my count, here’s a list (sure to grow) of AFLers who gained roster spots today:

Zelous Wheeler MIL
Jake Diekman PHI
Tyson Gillies PHI
Casey Crosby DET
Tyler Stohr DET
Hernan Perez DET
Evan Crawford TOR
Kevin Mattison MIA
Derek Norris WAS


Becoming a Scooter (Gennett) fan

I’ll admit, I tend to like scrappy players who go all out. Guys named Scooter are automatically going to become guys I root for unless something happens to make me feel otherwise.

Then I met Scooter Gennett and the conversation merely confirmed my earlier thought. It’s hard not to like the guy. Oh, and he can hit. He finished the AFL with a .411, second in the league (Congrats to Jedd Gyorko for winning the batting title). He speaks with the kind of energy he plays with, and with plenty of animation.

Watch the interview and see what I mean. And be sure to watch it until the end — you’ll get to hear the real story about where that first name comes from (hint: it’s Muppet-related).


AFL double-dip

I started the day in Phoenix (got my first look at the the championship game-bound Salt River Rafters), then drove over here to Scottsdale Stadium to see the Scorpions for the first time (Yes, I made it nearly three whole days without seeing Bryce Harper play. Hard to believe, I know).

I want to apologize to those who left questions to be answered in comments. One was for Aaron Hicks. I saw him play yesterday, but did not get the chance to ask him the question and I won’t be seeing Mesa again. The other question was about my take on the Mets’ Juan Lagares. He was not in the lineup yesterday. If he’s playing tonight against the Scorpions, I’ll try to find some things out about him.

No Mike Olt homer today, so he remains one shy of Brandon Wood’s record of 14, with one regular season game to play.

Jed Bradley on the bump tonight for Peoria, looking forward to seeing him pitch.

I’ll have some more video interviews in the coming days. Stay tuned to hear from (and see):

Scooter Gennett, Brewers
Danny Hultzen, Mariners
Charles Brewer, Diamondbacks

And you can look forward to these exciting stories:

AFL Top 20 prospects
Players using the AFL to earn a roster spot/audition for Rule 5
Championship game preview
MVP story
Stenson Award story
2011 first-round picks playing in the AFL

And yes, I partially did that to provide myself with a handy-dandy checklist.

More later…

Stenson Award nominees

The six nominees for this year’s Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award were announced on Tuesday (you can see my story on it right here.) There’s a video interview with one of the nominees, Brodie Greene, with the story. If you want to hear more from Greene, you can watch the entire, unedited (read: raw) video right here.



The winner will be announced on Saturday at the championship game. And lest you think that effort doesn’t lead to results, it’s interesting to note that all six  of these guys who are honored for their work ethic and makeup were hitting over .300 as of Tuesday’s games.

Only one time has a player won both the Stenson Award and the AFL MVP. That was Sam Fuld back in 2007. I don’t think it will happen this year, but the one guy who has a shot is Nolan Arenado. The Rockies third base prospect is third in the league in hitting, fifth in slugging and sixth in OPS. His 33 RBIs are second to Michael Olt. Even if Arenado doesn’t win MVP, he’s in the mix. And he and his Salt River Rafters are playing on Saturday for a ring.

A big record about to fall?

Greetings from Arizona, following my first day in the AFL.

I spent the day in Surprise to watch the championship-bound Saguaros host the Phoenix Desert Dogs and while I haven’t seen Salt River yet, that Surprise team is ridiculously stacked. Stay tuned for a series of stories as the week (and even into next week) unfolds.

I had some issues with my flipcam early in the day, but did recover to get one video interview done — I’ll post the entirety of that interview here tomorrow.

For now, though, I want to talk about Mike Olt. The Rangers’ No. 7 prospect played in just 73 games thanks to a broken collarbone during the regular season, so he came to Arizona to make up for lost time. And boy has he (You can watch a video interview with him, courtesy of the AFL, right here).

I saw Olt hit home run No. 13 on Monday. That almost doubles his nearest competitor (7, Robbie Grossman). he’s hit four homers in his last three games. He also leads the league with 40 RBIs, a reason why most think he’ll end up with his name on that MVP Award.

Back in 2005, Brandon Wood broke the Fall League record with 14 homers in 114 at-bats. I covered a bunch of that AFL season and Wood was just insane. Fast foward to now and Olt is one back of Wood, with 13 homers, in just 95 ABs. There might be concern about holes in his swing, but the power — especially showing it here after his partial season in the Class A Advanced Carolina League — is legit.

Of course, he may want to be careful with the homer company he is inadvertently keeping. Wood has never been able to establish himself as a big leaguer. Since his 2005 AFL campaign, three players have reached double-digits in homers: Chip Cannon in 2006 (11), Tyler Flowers (12) in 2008 and Grant Desme in 2009  (11). Cannon won MVP  honors in 2006 and is now out of the game. Flowers has seen some big league time, but has also spent much of three seasons in Triple-A. Desme won the MVP of the Fall League as well, then retired to join the priesthood in January 2010.





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