Saturday, August 16, 2008

Draft Aftermath.

Well, if you needed another reminder that there’s a new sheriff in Kansas City, you got it last night. For the second straight year, the Royals drafted a Scott Boras client with one of the top three picks in the draft, waited until the dying minutes before the trading deadline…and got the deal done.

Last year, the Royals took Mike Moustakas with the #2 overall pick. Moustakas was represented by Boras, who probably wasn’t pleased when Moustakas gave quotes to the media that made it clear that he really wanted to play baseball. Leverage is worthless if the other side doesn’t think you’ll use it, and all summer the expectation around baseball was that Moustakas would sign. He did, for $4 million, the same bonus that Alex Gordon got as the #2 overall pick two years prior. In light of the depressed bonuses throughout the first round, Moustakas did well, but the Royals certainly did well too.

Eric Hosmer, by comparison, played his Boras client role to the hilt. He never deviated from the script: he would love to sign if the money was right, but if not, he would be thrilled to attend LSU. Whereas everyone thought Moustakas would sign, everyone thought Hosmer would sign for the right offer. It was clear from the beginning that the right offer wasn’t $4 million. Once Tim Beckham, the #1 overall pick, signed early on for $6.15 million (but spread out over five years, as for some reason two-sport athletes are allowed to have their bonus spread out over time) I felt this set a good ceiling for Hosmer. It would be hard to argue that Hosmer deserved more than Beckham given that 1) he was drafted after Beckham and 2) the Royals had made it clear before the draft that they would have drafted Beckham over Hosmer if they had had the opportunity. So mentally I pegged Hosmer’s price tag at between $5 and $5.5 million.

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 Boras know for sure. The risk, from the Royals’ standpoint, is that Hosmer’s alternative was to go to college – and while a lot can happen in three years, as a college junior his price tag might be even higher. Someone like Alvarez, on the other hand, is already a college junior – if he doesn’t sign, then the next time he gets drafted he’ll be a college senior, with even less leverage.

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. Montgomery has a 1.76 ERA in rookie ball, with just 22 hits and 7 walks to go along with 24 Ks in 31 innings. Sample was wild as sin at first – 23 walks in his first 16 innings – but over his last two starts walked just one batter in 9 innings, allowing just 6 hits and striking out 12. Montgomery and Sample are polar opposites as pitchers, but along with Melville they were considered three of the 7 or 8 best high school pitchers in the entire draft. Pitching has been Moore’s focus since he was hired, and the farm system had impressive depth in that department even before this draft. With Melville signed, only two or three teams in baseball have more good pitchers in the minor leagues than the Royals.

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 Burlington in the Midwest League, and in 54 games so far is hitting .297/.357/.420. He’s also a little young for a college junior, having turned 21 just last month. He’s got a long way to go, but so far he’s rolling along the Chuck Knoblauch/Dustin Pedroia track nicely.

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 New England with a scholarship to Vanderbilt in hand, and those guys are tough to pry away. On draft day I speculated that since Esposito was drafted in the seventh round – the first round on the draft’s second day – that it suggested the Royals had time to contact him overnight and make sure he was signable before spending the pick. As it turns out, I was right – this report makes it clear the Royals kept throwing more money at him until he finally caved in the morning when he was offered $1.5 million. Unfortunately, after the draft he had second thoughts and decided to attend Vandy after all. It’s easy to be upset with the kid, and if this were a negotiating ploy I would be. But I’m not going to fault anyone for wanting a college education. I don’t know what my price tag would have been to forego college, but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.

(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 America raved about the Red Sox this morning for breaking the $10 million barrier, stating that this “may be a first in draft history.” Callis seems to have missed the fact that the Red Sox didn’t even spend the most money in this year’s draft. The Royals did. Kansas City’s first five picks alone cost $9,525,000; factor in bonuses to the rest of their top 10, and you reach a figure of $10,165,000. I don’t have signing bonus information after the first 10 rounds, but I’m fairly certain that Derrick Saito (16th round), Jake Kuebler (17th), and Greg Billo (28th) got six-figure bonuses, and there may be more.

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.

39 comments:

Minda said...

Even though I'm weirded out by all the money draft picks are getting, I'm able to put my personal squeamishness aside long enough to be very encouraged by this draft.

Anonymous said...

Definitely needs to be a cap on the draft, maybe this year with all of the money flying to late round picks the MLBPA will be inclined to do cap it. Otherwise, loved it.

Curtis said...

I certainly wouldn't have minded finding out what my price tag would have been to avoid college. Seven figures would certainly have done it.

Mike said...

GO ROYALS!

huge day for the franchise

i can see the light at the end of the dark ages

Anonymous said...

Definitely a bright day compared to what we have seen in the past. Lets hope the administration shows knowledge and patience in developing these picks.

Anonymous said...

I like that KC wasn't afraid to go after players that were going to demand money. They knew at #3 Hossmer was going to be expensive, but they took him anyway, because they felt he was the best. Great sign for the future imo.

_ _ _

Rany, I need some help. Is Proactiv any good?

Anonymous said...

Like the old commercial said... "you can pay me now... or... you can pay me later"!

IMO, the GMDM Era Royals are prepared to do BOTH which is what I feel is REQUIRED to succeed given the economics of baseball today! I am pleased. VERY pleased!

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

BTW... imagine how pleased I'd be if we won every series for the rest of THIS season. Is that TOO Much to ask for? lol

Anonymous said...

I am very pumped about this draft. I saw Johnny G with New Orleans two years ago and he is exactly the type of clubhouse leader and in you face guy that Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are not. Plus he can hit!!!

Hosmer will be going to Arizona soon, just not Arizona State. In your face Boras!!!

djclung said...

i say we follow this up and shell out that big dough to Yu Darvish this offseason

N. J. Thomas said...

"GMDM"? Oh my gosh. I thought I was done with those ridiculous abbreviations when... well, actually, I still visit the KUsports board, but I HATE THOSE ABBREVIATIONS. People have names. Four letter abbreviations that take longer to figure out than they would to simply write are the single most annoying thing in any written sports conversation.

HCBS. GMDM. FUMF!!!

Alright, rant over. Does anyone else think that this signing bonus is going to be a thing of the past in the next few years? Seems like the NBA style lottery is the wave of the future, and every single MLB owner is licking his lips in anticipation.

Kevin said...

Unbelievable. Has anyone else had it yet? How incredibly frustrating and embarrassing. We need to seriously ramp up calls for firing of "hitting" coach Mike Barnett. I mean seriously, what is this guy doing? GET RID OF HIM ALREADY.

Also, what do we think we're playing for? It's time for a radical makeover. Please, immediately send down/trade/release Teahen, Pena, Gathright (down already, don't bring back), Buck, Gload - at a minimum. It's time to give anyone we've got a chance to show themselves. We know these guys aren't going to get the job done.

It's troubling with Gordon and Guillen too but I honestly don't know what to do with them.

Maier, Smith, German are kind of vanilla guys. Just kind of... there.

Also, batting is not the only problem. Why at this time of season and this stage of players' careers do we continue to get so many stupid base running errors and fly ball errors.

I thought Hillman was supposed to be a fundamentals guy and a motivator guy. The team seems neither.

I like Bannister, but... we need to start being honest with ourselves I guess. He just doesn't seem that he's going to pan out.

I guess I'm just losing it today.

Anonymous said...

I don't care if Bannister is a rocket scientist, he can't pitch in the majors.

N. J. Thomas said...

Kevin, I'm sure you posted out of the frustration that was today's game, but the painful fact of the matter is that, with the exception of Gload, we really don't have anyone better than any of those guys you want to send down.

And worse, while we could bring people up to replace them, we'd be screwing over some major development time.

Also, Buck isn't TOO bad. Though that may just be a personal opinion.

Anyway, sending all those guys down at the moment seems like an incredibly bad idea right now.

keith jersey said...

I was at today's disaster of a game against the yankees and I had a thought while watching Bannister get dominated. We all know the Royals aren't going anywhere this year. Gordon, Teahan, Buck etc. were all rushed to KC because there was no talent at the time. I think the Royals management know Teahan, Gload, pena and others are not part of the future, but are holding them with the Royals to avoid rushing their replacements. Let Kaaihue develop properly at AAA and bring him up when that season is over. Patience fans, help is on the way!!

Kevin said...

Yes, frustration. I agree that by common sense we don't have anyone better than these guys right now. But, we also thought that before we let Aviles have a shot.

I'm not suggesting blowing development time. I'm suggesting bring some, or more than some, guys up asap for end of year, forget about trying to win anything, and give them dev time in KC.

As to Buck. I know people hang onto the statistics that we win more when he catches than Olivo. I still contend that may or may not be because of Buck's supposed ability to call a game. At any rate, we DO know that he can't hit and can't throw out anyone stealing a base.

I think my motto for the rest of the year is, "Stop Defending Teahen."

rebmoti said...

Rany, can you post soon on the total disintegration of Brian Bannister. It doesn't matter if you know how you're supposed to be pitching if you can't pitch. It kind of supports the old adage that you can indeed be too smart in baseball.

Antonio said...

That supports that adage how? The only support that it does is that you can lack the talent and still be a starter for a bad MLB team. Brian doesn't fail because of his intelligence. Brian fails because his ability doesn't match his intelligence.

Nathan said...

This draft should be the last nail in the coffin of Royals fans' longstanding assumption that the organization isn't dedicated to winning. Now, the jury is still out on competence (though I am hopeful), but it's refreshing to know that Glass and Moore are trying as hard as anyone in baseball.

Nathan said...

Ditto Antonio about Bannister. He's not too smart, he just doesn't have great stuff.

GA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GA said...

New Sheriff? I hope you are right, because the draft is only one piece of the puzzle. While its been nice seeing the Royals sign top prospects, its also been a little discouraging to see them holding on to dead weight. And the lack of any movement before the trade deadline was downright puzzling. To not accept even prospects knowing that the minor league system is still very much depleated is somewhat troubling. And while many are patting DM on the back about these draft picks, lets not forget some of the acquisitions that have not worked out as well. There have been plenty. If this team doesn't finish above last year's win total, I'll hold off on calling the front office "improved". There is a reason why the Royals are still picking in the top 5 of the draft, and they may be next year as well.

Max said...

Kuebler got $150,000, Saito got $100,000 and Billo got six figures as well.

Max said...

"Definitely needs to be a cap on the draft,"

Um, really? The Royals just outspend every club in baseball, giving us an advantage, and you want to take that advantage away????

Isaac said...

Been there, done that. How many times have we been excited about the talent from a draft? How many times has that talent reached anywhere near expectations at the major league level? We had a draft pick that was as guaranteed to be a star as the sun was of rising and to date, he hasn't quite reached that mark while others of recent years have passed him. Greinke was the next coming of Cy Young himself and he really hasn't fully reached his potential although I'll give him a break on the personal side of things.

I'll believe these high draft picks are worth something when we stop making them. Until then, they are just prospects who's odds of reaching expectations are somewhere south of 5% for this team.

I will say it is nice to see us not pass up picks because of price and spend money for them. This at least shows the thought process has changed. The next step is to teach our players how to run out ground balls, catch popups, and run the bases and get rid of the worst player ever in modern day baseball.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rany,

What do you think about the move the Rays made last night?

Walked Josh Hamilton WITH THE BASES LOADED in the ninth to get to Marlon Byrd.


Ended up working, but sure did seem pretty strange to do.

drewfuss said...

Bright Spots -

1. 2008 draft class (at least the first 4-5 picks)
2. Moustakas
3. Duffy
4. Cortes
5. Rosa
6. Pimentel, Wood, B. Johnson
7. Kila Ka'aihue

Some of those are a stretch, and even still, that's not much to be excited about, given the odds of any one of them making an All-star Game... So, nice work, but still a lot of work yet to be done...

fw said...

Rany on 8/3:

"Let’s enjoy it while we can. Boston comes to town next, then the Twins, then it’s off to Chicago and New York…52-60 could be 55-69 awfully fast."

NAILED it.

tilly uhlich me so...often said...

isaac, you are a wise man. this admin will blame sins of the past on the placeholders of the past, all the while giving themselves more time. but say what you will, hochevar belongs in this admin...will probably find succes when united with dave duncan. why do we feel so happy about the ability of this admin to analyze amateur talent when they are awful at judging big league talent? the guy that was in charge of the draft that landed colt griffin and roscoe crosby....is still in charge of the draft?! and while i know i am not wrong, that guy's draft was the only one in historical proprotion years to not produce ONE mlb player.

nobody should support this inept franchise.

Anonymous said...

I read a recent story that said that the Royals would have selected Hosmer, even if Beckham was available. Not sure which is correct.

steak said...

And can I say I'm slightly disappointed in you, Rany, for not titling this post "Draftermath."

You can't hate on Trey for being so provincial if you don't throw in a pun or two :)

Jay in Houston said...

i can blame esposito. he's nothing short of a moron. if he comes out and gets the highest paying non-baseball job, he'll make maybe $65k. that's if he's smart and motivated.

he turned down 15 years of six-figure income. that clearly rules out the fact that he's smart. that's effing retarded.

even if you say, well he can make more if he waits to come out. retarded. he'll be 3 years closer to free agency/arbitration. and he's he worth his salt he cost himself more than just 1.5 million.

kind of makes you wonder what dipshits are advising these kids. man oh man.

take the 1.5 million. if you flame out and suck, go spend a fraction of the money you made chasing a ball and pay for your schooling.

dumbest decision i've ever heard of.

Anonymous said...

I had hoped that Hillman wouldn't be managing by pitch count. Tonight he has Gil Meche cruising along, retiring 17 in a row. But he had hit 100 pitches, so out he comes. The lead evaporates in no time. That's just the way you and Neyer recommend, Rany.

Brendan from Mass. said...

Rany, could you give us your thoughts on just what the Royals have in Mike Aviles? He hasn't made any errors yet and that was a key concern. He's had 270 AB. Can anything be said with confidence about that sample size? He's got 31 XBH in 66 games! Aviles is unusual in that he is a 27 year old rookie so he should be at his physical peak this year and the next few seasons.

How does Aviles compare with the other AL rookie shortstops (Jed Lowrie + Alexei Ramirez) and what can Royals fans expect/hope for next year out of Aviles?

Based on his stats this year it seems like Aviles could hit 15 home runs in a full season? Does he project to hit for more power? I wouldn’t think so because of his age and it would be disastrous for him to put on weight and play shortstop since he is already 5-9 and 195 lbs. I imagine his defensive metrics are already not spectacular…

Anonymous said...

Oops Alexei Ramirez is a 2B but is a 26 year old rookie (Aviles is 27)

Brendan said...

Is Aviles having such luck that he is hitting .326?

"But when you take the air out of his Omaha numbers this year, his Davenport Translation converts his performance into a line of .273/.304/.495 in the majors. His defensive numbers are quite good, +7 runs…at second base. Factor in his performance with the Royals so far, after some regression you’re looking at a guy who will probably hit .270/.300/.460 or so. Is that worth giving up defense for?"

Anonymous said...

Maier gets drilled in the face breaking 3 bones. Gordon leaves the game today with a quad injury and they've lost 5 in a row (including 3 to Cleveland)

I think there is a silver lining to Hochevar's year. Since he's a sinker ball pitcher he hasn't given up many home runs. He's only 24 and is gaining valuable experience.

Can someone give Gordon some defensive fundamental tips? Hindsight being 20/20 he should have been kept in the minors longer.

Anonymous said...

As long as Tony Pena, Jr. is a member of this organization, my opinion of Dayton Moore will continue to decrease. If he is a major league player for the Royals next year, I will know that Dayton Moore will never, ever see any better results than Allard Baird. TPJ is making a bad, disgraceful franchise even worse. Why can't he tear an ACL?

keith jersey said...

All year we have been repeating the mantra that although things are still bad for the Royals, at least they appear to be getting better. As they lose game after game and fall behind even last year's win pace, what happens to that impression of improvement? I am not sure this year's team gives us any more reason to be hopeful than last years.

Anonymous said...

Sure "they" are improving, if you mean the organization... Moore is building from the Bottom Up (draft, minor leagues), not the Top Down (the Royals), which in the long run will be better. It doesn't mean they will ever make the playoffs, and who knows when the talent-turns-to-wins tipping point will occur at the big league level, but the organization will be better off overall.