The signing deadline for 2009 draft picks is quickly approaching. For now, we know that C-Wil Myers and LHP-Chris Dwyer have “officially” been signed. Their reported bonuses are the same that have been tossed about in the rumor mill for months; $2 million and $1.45 million respectively. They are the same terms that Jim Callis reported within the last week, and we can now conclude that Bud Selig has successfully screwed the Royals by impacting the timetable of two very talented prospects.
I have no doubt that the Royals agreed with both Myers and Dwyer on the terms of their deals long ago, but since they were significantly above Selig’s recommended slot values the commish sat on the deals like he has done so frequently this season. This practice is not just frustrating to Royals fans. It is impacting all of the teams who drafted based on talent instead on the ability to sign a player for that pick’s “recommended” slot value. Based on the bonus amounts being announced these days, Selig’s attempts to hold down the values of the deals seems to have yielded little in terms of results. The $1.45 million bonus Dwyer will receive from the Royals was a record for a 4th rounder until the Athletics gave their 4th round selection C-Max Stassi $1.5 million to sign. In all 6 players taken in the 4th round signed to above slot deals with only Padres’ pick RHP-Keyvius Sampson unsigned from that round. In the 5th round, 7 of the signed picks have been given bonuses above slot, while just 2 remain unsigned. The story is the same in many of the rounds.
If Selig wants to get control over the bonuses being handed out to draft picks, he needs to get a legitimate slotting system included in the next CBA. Until then he needs to let teams draft, sign, and get their picks on the field and advancing to the major leagues. Selig’s practice of sitting on above slot deals hurts small market teams like the Royals and Pirates, among others, who are willing to spend the money to draft and sign the top talent available to them. Consider that Peter Gammons is now reporting that the San Diego Padres had a deal done with their 1st round pick, Donovan Tate, 5 days ago worth $6.7 million. Afraid that such a deal would impact the demands of other players, the commissioner’s office, in all its wisdom, has been holding up the announcement of such this. So Donovan Tate’s assignment to a Padres minor league affiliate has been pointlessly delayed, Padres fans have been forced to needlessly worry about the status of their top pick for 5 days, and San Diego’s ownership and management have had to suffer the “slings and arrows” from those same worried fans.
What good is Selig doing? Players are still going to get their money and teams are still going to pay above slot for the talent and work the system if they can. Whether Chris Dwyer received $1.45 million a month ago or today doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that Dwyer and the Royals agreed that his slot value was $1.45 million and not the $240,300 MLB recommended. In the coming days, Dwyer can finally start his career as a professional, and as a member of the Royals organization, but the fact remains that he lost a month of the season. It is a lost month that rests solely at the feet of Bud Selig. Frankly the Royals should send him a bill for the month of development time they have lost with Dwyer. Same goes for Wil Myers whose $2 million bonus is well in excess of Selig’s $380,700 slot number. The Royals made the decision to draft both players knowing they would have to go above slot to sign them, but did so because they were able to get premium talent with their 3rd and 4th round selections. In the end Dwyer’s deal is 6 times above slot while Myers’ deal is 5.25 times above slot, which shows the team’s willingness to sign the best talent available to them while sticking up their middle finger at Selig and his cronies.
Everyone knows the system is broken, but punishing the teams that are willing to work within the broken system doesn’t fix the problem. The pressure Selig has put on teams to stick to slot has only served to reduce the talent pool of those teams willing to follow his lead. Fortunately for Royals fans, it appears that the days of this organization blindly following the lead of the almighty commish are in the past.
The deadline is just 10 minutes away and the Royals just lost 8-7 to the freaking White Sox.