The Diamondbacks going their own way in draft…
As Nick Piecoro points out, the Diamondbacks did something this summer that’s never been done: They left $1.7 million of their allotted draft-bonus money on the table.
Now, Nick’s done his reporting and there are reasons why the Diamondbacks might have done this; basically, teams are most likely to use all their money when they’ve worked out pre-draft agreements with all their favorite players. And it seems the Diamondbacks probably weren’t able to do this with their first-round pick, which made everything else more complicated. Still, Piecoro writes,
… the Diamondbacks could have been more proactive in another way to ensure they got more out of their pool money: They could have taken more high school players in the later rounds in hopes of buying them out of their college commitments. The club drafted some players who fit that mold but ultimately decided they weren’t worth their asking price.Article continues below ...
Given some other moves the team has made – blowing up its international pool for only one player (Yoan Lopez) rather than signing several; apparently not getting full value for Touki Toussaint when he was sold to the Braves – it seems fair to wonder if the organization cares about maximizing value.
As for whether the draft strategy was motivated by saving money, Watson says that wasn’t a factor.
"No," he said. "It wasn’t about coming in under and we weren’t afraid to go over. We were just trying to get the best players for us where we picked. We felt like we did that."
Perhaps they did. We’ll know better in five years.
Well, except we probably won’t. Given the ridiculously unpredictable nature of the draft and player development, the Diamondbacks’ 2015 draft might look wonderfully productive or terribly disastrous … or, most likely, somewhere in the middle, and either way it’ll be difficult to attributed anything to the missing $1.7 million.
I’ll say, too, that it’s a) unlikely that the Diamondbacks don’t care about maximizing value, or b) that they were particularly interested in saving the $1.7 million.
What’s most likely, I think? The Diamondbacks, as an organization, just aren’t quite organized enough to get the most for their money, or don’t understand just how valuable a high-school player can ultimately become. Drafted players, after all, are the second-biggest bargain in the business, behind only the young minimum-salaried major leaguers who play like stars. If you’ve got $1.7 million sitting around in July, don’t you just throw it at whichever later-round picks will take it? What if just one of them becomes an average major leaguer by his second or third season, or even just a Grade B prospect at some point? Haven’t you more than made your money back?
I don’t worry that the Diamondbacks don’t care about value. I worry that they don’t quite know what value looks like.