As Bud Selig reached into his 1970′s style desert brown jacket, reaching for the high grade fountain pen that would eventually mark upon baseball’s new CBA, he was unknowingly altering the methods of numerous organizations and how they go about acquiring talent.
Not only does this new CBA handcuff its organizations when it comes to signing international talent, it also handicaps a teams ability to sign home grown, american-bred talent. This has multiple side effects that in the end will end up diluting the overall dignity of the sport. It’s hard to “convince” a two sport athlete to come play baseball, when the fame and spotlight has belonged to football for decades. Baseball isn’t a star driven sport, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need our stars. Unfortunately these ramifications won’t be felt for quite some time, and perhaps at that time the sport will have been hurt insurmountably. Without stars and idols for young children to imitate and strive to become, the sport will lose the interest of america’s young, and that is something baseball has already been struggling to fight.
Now that I have veered off on a complete tangent, that brings us to the Mariners. Seattle has had a notoriously hard time of late attracting offensive talent. So the Mariners have leaned heavily on the draft and the international market in order to shore up their free agency deficiencies. The Mariners have invested large quantities of money in the draft, drafting highly regarded prospects with commitments in the later rounds and then throwing money at these lower end picks in order to convince them to forego other opportunities. The Mariners have signed 8 of their top 10 picks. Notably absent is number one pick Mike Zunino. Not necessarily a reason for concern, first round picks tend to drag this process out as long as possible in an attempt to get as much money as possible. Here begins a rather large issue.
The Mariners have already begun to run low on draft funds.
The Mariners have an MLB mandated $8,223,400 to spend on their top 10 picks. Thus far the Mariners have signed Joseph DeCarlo ($1.3M — Slot: $806,000), Edwin Diaz (???), Tyler Pike ( $850K — Slot: $370,800), Patrick Kivlehan ($300K — Slot: $353,300), Christopher Taylor (???), Timothy Lopes ( $550k — Slot: $198,100), Taylor Ard ($149K – Slot: $149,700), Jamodrick McGruder ( $130K — Slot: $130,500), and Grady Wood ( $40K — Slot: $125,000). According to Baseball America the Mariners are $355,700 over their budget of $8,223,400 for their top 10 picks.
Selig has taken a personal vendetta against anyone who plans to spend over his reconfigured slot bonus. Serious penalties are to be dealt to those who would disobey the new laws of the current CBA. This excerpt is taken from the CBA:
Penalties for exceeding the Signing Bonus Pool are: Excess of Pool Penalty – (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)
* 0-5% – 75% tax on overage
* 5-10% – 75% tax on overage and loss of 1st round pick
* 10-15% – 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st and 2nd round picks
* 15%+ – 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st round picks in next two drafts
The Mariners have been allotted $5,200,000 for the signing of Zunino. That leaves $3,023,400 for the rest of their picks. That is only if they can sign Zunino at or below slot. Without knowing how much the Mariners spent on Diaz and Taylor, they have already spiked up to the $3,320,000 zone. If you you assume that the Mariners continue the trend of going above slot, you can figure to add another possible $400,000 – $500,000 to that figure with the unknown bonus amounts. That would push the $3,320,000 zone up to $3,720,000 range. That would leave a bonus of $4,500,400-ish for number one selection Mike Zunino, about $700,000 short of his suggested bonus.
Cause for concern? Certainly, but the it’s not a reason to panic. Both selections above Zunino, signed for below the recommended slot bonus, with an unprecedented higher bonus to the second round pick, Byron Buxton. The Mariners are going to sign Zunino, the only issue now becomes, can they do it below slot?
With these decapitating penalties, I certainly hope so.