Thank Jonathan Papelbon's decision to go to Philadelphia for the extra picks and budget in this year's first-year player draft. (Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE)
The 2012 iteration of the MLB amateur entry draft starts tonight at 7 pm eastern. We'll have Red Sox coverage as it relates to the draft throughout the day, but also during the draft itself. Before that, though, it's best to go over a few basic need-to-know facts about where Boston stands with today's draft.
The Picks: The Red Sox have three picks in the first round and its subsequent "sandwich" round. The first, the #24 pick, is Boston's, the one they would have simply for being a draft participant. The second and third of these first-round selections come courtesy of Jonathan Papelbon and the Phillies. The Red Sox have the #31 pick in the draft, which was formerly Philadelphia's, and also the #37 selection, as additional compensation for losing the last of the Type-A relievers under the old collective bargaining agreement.
The St. Louis Cardinals are the only other club with three picks in the first 37 -- the Brewers have three in the first 38, but their first isn't until #27, whereas both the Cardinals and Sox are a bit earlier -- meaning Boston is in a, while not unique, optimal situation. That's even more the case now, under the new CBA, thanks to the existence of...
The Budget Pool: Boston can no longer spend whatever they want in the draft. In the past five years, they have averaged over $8.8 million in bonuses, in order to lure talent away from college, using later picks in order to minimize risk in case their dollars didn't speak as convincingly as hoped. This year, though, thanks to the new CBA, there is a limit to draft spending. And it's based on how many picks you have to make, as well as a team's record. Teams with poor 2011 seasons and plenty of 2012 draft picks have the most money to spend -- the Astros, the Twins, etc. The Red Sox shouldn't have very much, but thanks to losing Papelbon and acquiring two additional first-round selections, they have received a bump in the money pool. Baseball America broke down Boston's total money, as well as how much they likely could budget for each selection (the "12" in the first row is the number of picks in the first 10 rounds):
As long as Boston's bonuses for individual players after the first 10 rounds don't exceed $100,000, they won't be counted against that $6.9 million. There's also a bit of wiggle room before there's a penalty, too, as was discussed in this space back in February:
Going over by five percent isn't much of a problem, and it's something that we can probably expect to see a lot of if it means a team signs a player they might otherwise lose. Teams have to pay a 75 percent tax on spending over their pool limit if they go over by up to five percent. On average, teams have $6.3 million to spend on their draft picks this June -- five percent of $6.3 million is $315,000, so we're talking a penalty that's less than the minimum salary for a major league player. Taking this into consideration, the Red Sox actually have $7,229,040 to spend if they don't mind paying the tax for five percent overages. They don't have to, of course, but that option is there if a player they think they have to sign is out there but would require an extra $100,000 or so.
Between 5-10 percent, though, penalties start to sting. In addition to the 75 percent tax, the team also forfeits the next season's first-round selection. Not only is the first rounder gone, but the money owning that selection would have allotted to the draft pool will also vanish. Overspending by 10-15 percent means a 100 percent tax and the loss of a first- and second-round pick, and more than 15 percent subs out that second rounder for another first. We likely won't see a whole lot of the other punishments going on, as the loss of draft picks is a significant one.
Boston might not mind paying the tax for the initial penalty level, but it's unlikely they'll forfeit future draft picks, meaning we are unlikely to see them cross that five percent threshold, even if they creep up against it.
As for who the Red Sox are expected to pick? We'll have more on that later today, as we round up the various mock drafts from the experts.