One season ticket holder at the Cubs Convention said that fans deserve 81 win seasons instead of a 71 win season. Perhaps that's more palatable in the short term, but how does it affect the long term health of the organization?
One thing I hear from time to time is that it doesn't matter where you draft. Good scouting teams always get good players.
It is true that some teams scout better than others and some have drafted well despite not having top picks. But much of that crafty drafting was done under the old CBA, which made it easier to get extra picks. Those picks, in turn, could be used on one of several players who slipped annually because of signing bonus concerns.
It was a different environment back then. So that got me thinking, it's been two years since the new CBA was approved. Are those teams at the bottom of the draft still able to compensate for having low picks? Now that the ability to easily gain extra picks and spend an unlimited amount of money has been taken away, are teams like the Cardinals, Rays, and Red Sox still outperforming the teams drafting ahead of them?
The short answer is no.
I used the MLB.com top 100 list and listed the players that signed since the new CBA was approved.
*Jorge Soler was actually signed after the agreement but before the new CBA went into effect.
**Julio Urias was signed in the first year when every team had the same amount of money to spend, so better teams did not have a disadvantage yet.
- Byron Buxton, Twins, (1)
- Carlos Correa, Astros, (1)
- Kevin Gausman, Orioles, (4)
- Addison Russell, A's, (11)
- Albert Almora, Cubs, (6)
- Mark Appel, Astros, (1)
- Jorge Soler, Cubs, (IFA)*
- Kyle Zimmer, Royals, (5)
- Max Fried, Padres, (7)
- Jonathan Gray, Rockies, (3)
- Kris Bryant, Cubs, (2)
- Corey Seager, Dodgers, (18)
- Andrew Heaney, Marlins, (9)
- Clint Frazier, Indians, (5)
- David Dahl, Rockies, (10)
- Lance McCullers, Astros, (41)
- Kohl Stewart, Twins, (4)
- Courtney Hawkins, White Sox, (13)
- Austin Meadows , Pirates, (9)
- Lucas Giolito, Nationals, (16)
- Colin Moran, Marlins, (6)
- Jose Berrios, Twins, (32)
- Trey Ball, Red Sox, (7)
- Eddie Butler, Rockies, (46)
- Julio Urias, Rangers, (IFA)**
Breakdown by Pick (Out of 23 draft picks)
In the Top 5: 9 (39%)
In the Top 10: 16 (70%)
- It should also be noted that of the 7 picks outside of the top 10, 3 were taken by teams who had the largest total pool amounts. The Twins, who had the 2nd pick in 2012, used that extra money to draft and sign Berrios. The Rockies used a comp pick to select Butler. The Astros, who had the most to spend in 2012, used the extra money to sign Lance McCullers. So of the 23 highest rated draft picks, 83% were taken by teams with top 10 picks.
- What's more, all 3 of those players were drafted while the old Type A system was still in place. Two of those players would have never have gotten the QO under the current system. The Astros got the extra pick and the pool money that goes with it for the bargain price of letting Clint Barmes go. Similarly, the Rockies were able to draft Eddie Butler for the relatively painless goodbye to infielder Mark Ellis. Only Berrios was picked with a player that may have gotten the QO under today's system (Michael Cuddyer).
- No comp picks in the 2013 draft (and thus under the rules of the fully implemented CBA) made the top 100, though it may just be too early to tell on those players.
- Of the top 10 drafted players in the list (top 36 overall), 7 were picked in the top 5 and 9 were picked in the top 10. The lone exception? Addison Russell who fell just outside the top 10 picks in 2012 at #11.
Breakdown by Team
- Twins - 3
- Astros - 3
- Cubs - 3* (includes Soler)
- Rockies - 3
- Marlins- 2
- It is no coincidence that the team with the most top 100 prospects (Twins, Astros, Cubs) are also teams that have had top 5 picks in each of the last two drafts. The other team with multiple players, the Marlins, had two top 10 picks in each of the last two drafts.
- The Cardinals do not have a single prospect drafted or signed in the last two years who made the top 100. The Red Sox have one, but that was after their 2012 collapse where they were awarded the #7 pick overall. The Rays also have no picks/signees from the last 2 years in the top 100. In fact, no team in the Baseball America top 10 farm systems have drafted any of the top 25 prospects since 2012 without a top ten draft pick that season (and thus the extra money to get an overslot later). The Braves are the only top 10 farm system (#10) that drafted a current top 100 prospect (Lucas Sims, #93 overall) without a top 10 pick. The 11th ranked Blue Jays organization picked Marcus Stroman (#92 overall), but they had the benefit of having 2 first round picks and the extra bonus money to sign a guy who many considered a top 10 prospect in the draft. The Jays picked up that extra pick when they failed to sign Tyler Beede in the previous year.
- The Astros, Marlins, and Cubs have top 5 picks in the 2014 draft.
The new CBA has made it difficult to acquire top 100 prospects (and thus, more difficult to build a stronger farm team) without a top 5 pick and it's been extremely rare to get a top 100 prospect without a top 10 pick and the bonus money attached with that status.
It seems that it didn't take long for the Cubs and Astros to pick up on this and have thus avoided adding meaningless wins because, while it was once possible to make up for having a lower draft pick with extra picks and unlimited draft budgets, those two loopholes have been closed by the CBA. Top 5 picks have increased in value while win totals in the 65-75 range have simultaneously decreased in value.
Even teams with great farm systems and reputations for great scouting have struggled to pick up top prospects the past two seasons.
Under the new CBA, it's no longer apparent that you can still easily build a top farm system without higher picks and the bonus money that goes with it. So to that season ticket holder out there: As painful as it may be, it really is better for the organization in the long run to have 71 wins than 81.
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