Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Soapbox, Draft Bonuses Edition

People write all kinds of silly things on twitter that are easy to ignore or discount, depending on their knowledge, intent, etc. But every once in a while, I'll read something on twitter that will really annoy me because the person writing it should know better. That was the case yesterday evening when I read, shortly before the signing deadline, that the Astros "refuse" to go over slot.

I will be the first to acknowledge that the Astros organization has made a lot of mistakes over the last few years, but let's just look at that statement:

First of all, the idea that the Astros refuse to go over slot was immediately refuted when Springer signed for around $700,000 over slot and Armstrong signed for $414,300 over slot.

Secondly, let's look at last year's draft. Adam Plutko, a 6th round pick, didn't accept an amount reported to be in excess of $1,000,000 to sign with the Astros. That's $1,000,000+ offered for a 6th round pick (183rd overall) when the slot value for our 3rd round pick (99th overall) this year was $335,700. Were the Astros reluctant to pay over slot in prior years? Maybe so; probably so. But does that mean that is still the case? It doesn't look like it to me.

Next, let's consider that baseball is still a business. If you make a regular habit of vastly overpaying for a product, it will become the new reality. You will always have to overpay because you will be seen as a weak negotiator who will cave when push comes to shove.

Finally, one needs to consider that there other factors involved in the decision for a player to sign, particularly a high school player. The player may just not be ready to embark on a professional career (and his parents may be dead-set against it). A player may simply have his heart set on going to a particular college or may actually place a premium on his education. I know this is hard to believe, but for many of us, there are more important things than money. In the case of a Gandy Stubbefield, the Astros probably knew that he was a long-shot to sign or they would have drafted him in an earlier round. But at least they tried.

So you can complain about everything from bad free agent signings to the cost of beer, but I think it's disingenuous to say that the Astros "refuse" to pay over slot anymore. And the fact remains that 35 players from the 2011 draft did sign and many of them have been playing for a couple of months now. And yesterday, the Astros farm system got just that much stronger with the signings of Springer and Armstrong, and the acquisition of Domingo Santana.

Soapbox --------> Exit Stage Right

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