Well, if you needed another reminder that there’s a new sheriff in
Last year, the Royals took Mike Moustakas with the #2 overall pick. Moustakas was represented by
Eric Hosmer, by comparison, played his
He got $6 million. While the Royals can claim they gave Hosmer less guaranteed money than Beckham, the reality is that when you discount Beckham’s contract for the time value of the next five years, Hosmer got more money. If both players put their money in a money market account earning 4% interest the day they get paid, at the end of four years (i.e. the day Beckham gets his last check) Hosmer will have $7,019,000; Beckham will have $6,662,000.
So the Royals blinked. On the other hand, so did every other team in the top 5. The Pirates signed Pedro Alvarez, the #2 overall pick, for the same $6 million bonus. (Although they didn’t give Alvarez a major league contract, a big win for them given that Pedro’s a college hitter and might be ready for the majors by next summer.) Brian Matusz, at #4, got only $3.2 million guaranteed but got a major league contract which could make his total contract worth over $6 million (but could be worth less than $4 million if he’s slow to reach the majors.) Buster Posey, the #5 overall pick, got $6.2 million from the Giants.
Would the Royals have been able to sign Hosmer had they held firm at, say, $5.25 million? Only Hosmer and
The conventional wisdom has always been that college juniors have the most leverage, because they only have to wait a year to get drafted again. But with the new rules that force an August 15th deadline – eliminating the tactic of simply not returning to school in the fall, allowing you to negotiate for an entire year – I would argue that since a college junior has more to lose by not signing before the deadline than a high school senior, that high school picks actually have more leverage. They also have more risk – a lot can happen in three years – but going forward we might see premium high school talents command even more money than college juniors. (We might also see a premium talent threaten to attend a junior college, allowing him to be draft-eligible again the following year, when he’s just 19.)
Anyway, the important thing is that Hosmer signed. If he signed for $6 million instead of $5.25 million – what’s $750,000 in baseball terms? Less than two weeks of Jose Guillen, that’s what. In the long run, the continuing escalation of signing bonuses at the very top of the draft is a concern. But from the Royals’ perspective, if they still have a top-five draft pick in the next few years, we have much bigger concerns than the draft bonus structure.
So today, give it up to David Glass. Say what you want about his past – I certainly have – but he’s had a pretty flawless 2008. His name has all but disappeared from the newspaper, and that in itself is a good sign. Owners are like umpires – you never give any thought to the best ones. Ideally, the only input you want from an owner is that he opens his wallet when asked. Glass has opened his wallet for free agents each of the last two winters, and he’s opened his wallet for draft picks each of the last two summers.
As a result, this year’s draft has the potential to be one of the best in Royals history. They landed Hosmer, who has much power potential as anyone the Royals have ever drafted. Yesterday they also signed fourth-round pick Tim Melville, who was a Top-20 talent who dropped because teams were worried he was asking for too much money. Melville’s signing was an open secret for almost a month now, but the final reports are that his bonus was just $1.25 million. If that’s the case, the Royals got a steal – and that’s already the consensus around the game. Melville’s signing bonus would have been roughly slot money for the #28 pick; of the 27 first-rounders who signed, only two got less money. There may be more to the story here, but it looks from here like Melville would have made more money if he had just let the draft play out, as he likely would have gone somewhere in the middle of the first round.
That’s two of the top 20 players in the draft who just signed. The Royals already had supplemental first rounder Michael Montgomery, a polished high school lefty, and third rounder Tyler Sample, a 6’7” beast of a right-hander who was was considered a solid second-round talent by most people.
Then there’s Johnny Giavotella, the 5’8” runt of a college second baseman taken in the second round, the exact antithesis of the tools guy that Moore and Ladnier like to draft. The fact that the Royals deviated from their script so strongly to take Giavotella suggested that they really, really, really liked him, and so far he’s done nothing to disappoint. He signed almost immediately, went straight to full-season ball with
The Royals threw a bunch of six-figure bonuses at other guys well down the draft list, but even if no one else pans out, the Royals’ first five picks alone have the potential to make this a historic draft. They also have the potential to burn out in Double-A; high school pitchers will break your heart. But so far so good.
The only blemish on the draft is that seventh-rounder Jason Esposito didn’t sign. Esposito is a third baseman from
(Sources have told me that the Royals were close to signing Esposito up until the deadline, which makes me wonder if money was the issue after all. I guess everyone has their price tag.)
Even without getting Esposito to take their money, the Royals spent an obscene amount of money in the draft. Jim Callis of Baseball
Sure, that number may be inflated by the fact that Hosmer got $6 million, where as the Red Sox never got the chance to draft anyone worth $6 million. But the dollars count the same no matter who the money goes to. This summer, the Royals have apparently spent more money on their draft picks than any other team. Ever.
It’s hard to remember this when the Royals are getting their brains beaten in at U.S. Cellular Park every other month, but help is on the way. For all the money the Royals have spent, it better be.