Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Money for Slots


You may have heard that the Red Sox are having a bit of trouble finalizing a deal for Mike Napoli. For whatever reason, the talks are taking a while to get all in order. There’s a valid question out there as to whether or not the talks should be finalized in the first place. Adam LaRoche is still on the market. He’s better than Mike Napoli. Better in just about every possible way. But, because he’s better, he’ll cost you a bit more. Not so much monetarily. The fact that they’re overpaying Napoli so much takes care of that. No, LaRoche will cost the Red Sox a draft pick. As if that weren’t bad enough, he would also cost the Sox the slot money that goes along with that pick. Oh, the horror!

Huh?

I’m not a baseball draft expert. Nor do I want to be. But, apparently the new deal is that teams have a certain amount to spend on each draft pick. $2 million for one pick, $1 million for another one. That adds up to a total amount a team can spend on their picks from the draft. So, if the Red Sox pick is slotted to be paid $1.5 million, and the Sox can sign the sucker for $1 million, the Sox can use that money to spend on another pick who is holding out a bit. If the Sox were to sign LaRoche, the money slotted for the pick they give up would also be removed from the total they’re allowed to spend. Basically, the Sox can’t sign every free agent out there, then pool all the money they would have spent on the ten picks they lose, and give it all to their first round pick. That makes sense. But, here’s something people seem to miss. There’s another way the Sox could lose that slot money.

They could actually draft someone in that spot, and sign him.

So, if the Sox sign LaRoche, they really just lost the pick. They would have spent the money for the slot in either case. Even if they could con the 44th pick in the draft to sign below his potential, they have to give him something. So, they may tie their hands and not have an extra $500,000 to give to another player. But, they’d have a better first baseman for the next three years. Sounds reasonable to me.

Especially since the Sox seem to think they’ll compete in 2013. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have gotten Hanrahan or Drew. Right? So, if you’re going for it…don’t you want the best first baseman you can get? (Well, at least the best first baseman you can get other than the one you got rid of for no reason last year.)

Besides, the Sox will still have their first pick…since it’s protected somehow. So, they’ll still have their best shot at getting a star. Can you get a stud at the 44th pick? Of course. Dustin Pedroia was a second round pick. But, you can also find a stud in other rounds. Will Middlebrooks was a fifth rounder. Kevin Youkilis was from the eighth round. So, maybe the Sox shouldn’t hurt themselves just to save one pick. You can find talent anywhere. You can find busts anywhere. Why are the Sox stressing over this one?

Is it really just the half million? Who are they scared of losing? What if they draft this kid at 44 and he insists on signing for more than his slot? So, they’ll have to overpay for this kid, and hurt themselves somewhere else anyway. And they would have a poor first baseman in the meantime.

That doesn’t make sense.

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