Decline Qualifying Offers at your own risk

Under the current collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association, free agents can be offered a “qualifying offer” currently set at $14.1 Million for the season.  At the end of the 2013 season, thirteen players were given that qualifying offer.  All thirteen of those players turned down that offer.  That means that those thirteen players thought they were worth more than $14.1 Million for a season, and they also wanted more than one season on a guaranteed contract.  

If you are one of the top players in baseball, getting that multi-year deal is not a difficult thing.  Players like Robinson Cano and Shin-Shoo Choo got contracts worth well over $100 Million.  But there is a fine line between being a sought after veteran, or being viewed as too expensive, thus limiting your options.

Nelson Cruz was one of the unluckiest of the thirteen when he could not find anyone willing to give him a guaranteed contract worth $100 Million for six years.  Then he could not find anyone willing to give him four years and $50 million.  He finally settled for one year and $8 Million from the Baltimore Orioles.  I think that $14.1 Million would look pretty good right now to Cruz and his negotiating team.

Another of the unluckiest of the thirteen that turned down qualifying offers is shortstop Stephen Drew.  When Drew turned down the $14.1 qualifying offer from the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, he was advised by his agent that he was worth more than that and that the agent could get him more money and a longer-term contract.  As the final week of Spring Training begins, most teams are ready to go with the players they have.  But Stephen Drew is still looking for a job and that long-term contract.  

Drew is a solid defender at shortstop.  He also has a decent bat, having topped 10 home runs and 60 RBI’s in five major league seasons.  But he is finding that most teams do not think he is worth a multi-year deal at or above $14.1 Million per season.  Drew might just have gotten extremely lucky this week when the Detroit Tigers starting shortstop Jose Iglesias was diagnosed with stress fractures in both shins and will miss most of the 2014 major league season.   

The Detroit Tigers are one of the top spending teams in major league baseball and have been for years.  So you know that Drew’s agent has been in contract with Tigers management since the injury to Iglesias, trying to get his player the best deal possible.  But so far the Tigers have not met his asking price.  

The Tigers current options at shortstop currently include 23 year old prospect Hernan Perez and recently acquired Andrew Romine .  Perez is ranked as the Tigers #9 minor league prospect by Baseball America for the 2014 season.  Perez is an instinctive player in the field with good actions and an average arm.  He also has average speed and a line-drive approach at the plate.  But Perez has only 68 current major league at bats with the Tigers.  The 28 year old Romine has just 152 at bats in four years as a seldom used back-up with the Los Angeles Angels.  Andrew Romine’s Father Kevin also played in the Majors as an outfielder with the Boston Red Sox from 1985-1991.  Andrew and his father Kevin both played college baseball for the Arizona State Sun Devils.

John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press has reported that Stephen Drew is now finally willing to “accept” a one year deal for $14 Million from the Detroit.  But players don’t make offers, teams make offers, then players can accept or decline those offers.  The agent continues to add conditions to any negotiations that might be taking place.  The latest “condition” being that his client, Stephen Drew will not sign until after the first day of the season.  

The significance of this stipulation is that when a player is signed after the beginning of the season, he cannot be offered a qualifying offer again at the end of the year.  The benefit for baseball fans is that we will not have go through this again next year with Drew.  But his agent, Scott Boras, yes he will do this again next year, toying with another players career to squeeze out every last nickel in another negotiation that drags well into spring training.

Drew’s agent has in the past talked about offers from other teams interested in his clients to increase the asking price.  The Mets have been mentioned as one of these “other teams” interested in Drew.  Yet the Mets GM Sandy Alderson has maintained that he has had no recent conversations with said agent about Stephen Drew.  So Drew’s options appeared limited at this point.

Soon Spring Training will come to an end, and hopefully the Stephen Drew saga will come to an end as well.  If Drew does sign with the Tigers and get the money he wants, he should thank Jose Iglesias for the opportunity.   It apears that Drew might just be lucky enough to take advantage of the Tigers who have a “win-now” mentality with a veteran club looking to make it to the World Series, an already high payroll, and money still to spend.

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2013 Prospects

For over 30 years, Baseball America has been the preeminent leader in ranking amateur and minor league prospects. The writers and editors at Baseball America have been the driving force responsible in providing baseball fans everywhere a way to learn about the top up-and-coming prospects in baseball.  But one of the great things about ranking baseball prospects is that anyone can put together a list.

Another thing that I find comforting is the fact that there really is no right or wrong answer when it comes to ranking prospects. Even the so-called experts will rank players differently. All 30 major league clubs employ numerous scouts and a scouting director, and they all rank amateur prospects differently each year for the First Year Player Draft.

The same goes for the writers and editors at Baseball America. In Baseball America’s 2013 Prospect Handbook, four experts ranked their top 50 minor league prospects. Each one of their lists had many of the same players. But none of their lists were identical. So when a writer like myself or Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball puts together a list of prospects, it will always be slightly different from the list put together by Jim Callis, Will Lingo, John Manuel, or J. J. Cooper at Baseball America.

2013 Top Prospects – Catchers

1. Mike Zunino, Mariners, 1st round 2012
2. Travis D-Arnaud, Mets, 1st round 2007
3. Austin Hedges, Padres, 2nd round 2011
4. Gary Sanchez, Yankees, $3 Million ndfa 2009
5. Tommy Joseph, Phillies, 2nd round 2009
6. Blake Swihart, Red Sox, 1st round 2011
7. Stryker Trahan, Diamondbacks, 1st round 2011
8. Clint Coulter, Brewers, 1st round 2012
9. Rob Brantly, Marlins, 3rd round 2010
10. Tom Murphy, Rockies, 3rd round 2012
11. Tim Federowicz, Dodgers, 7th round 2008
12. Max Stassi, A’s, 4th round 2009
13. J.T. Realmuto, Marlins, 3rd round 2010
14. Will Swanner, Rockies, 15th round 2010
15. Carlos Perez, Astros, ndfa 2008
16. Jorge Alfaro, Rangers, ndfa 2009
17. Tony Sanchez, Pirates, 1st round 2009
18. Christian Bethancourt, ndfa 2008
19. Andrew Susac, Giants, 2nd round 2011
20. Kevin Plawecki, Mets, 1st round 2012

Christmas Day = Draft Day

Christmas was my favorite day of the year growing up.  Gotta love those presents.  Now my favorite day of the year is Draft Day.  But unlike many Christmas gifts, baseball draft picks are gifts that keep giving and giving. 

Both Christmas Day and Draft Day are times filled with joy and hope for the future.  As an adult, the draft has become as exciting as Christmas was for me as a child.  First there is the excitement of draft day.  Question’s quickly morph one into the next: "Who will my team pick?"  and "Who are these guys?" 

Next is the anticipation of getting players signed and seeing their names in the box scores for the first time.  Following the minor league box scores is how I found out that the Twins had signed their 14th round pick Jeff Manship last year.   

But I never thought Manship would sign.  Manship had been a solid prospect coming out of high school.  He would have been drafted in the 2nd-4th rounds of the 2003 draft, if not for his committment to Notre Dame.  Injuries and inconsistency plagued him at Notre Dame and signability was again an issue going into the 2006 draft.  But he got drafted by the Twins, the best team at getting prospects to the majors, and he signed. 

He is on his way to being ranked as a top prospect after his solid 2007 season.  Now he hopes to follow Twins prospects Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey, and Scott Baker from the minors to the Major Leagues.  Hopefully your favorite team drafts some players that you can pin your hopes on to improve your team.  Best of luck to everyone on Draft Day.

Mock Draft -1st Round

I have sent e-mails to MLBlogs and to MLB themselves.  My Blog has been moved into readerless purgatory somehow and no one knows how to correct the issue.  So my Blog based around Thursday’s draft is falling on blind eyes during the most important time of the year, one could say.  Very unfortunate.

I don’t know if anyone will ever see or have a chance to read my Mock Draft, but I will do one anyway.  Best Guess is listed first, others listed second.  and of course, bonus demands and the Boras effect can ruin the best of predictions.

  1. Tampa Bay-David Price should be the only option
  2. Kansas City-Rick Porcello, but I would pick Weiters
  3. Cubs-Josh Vitters, Mike Moustakas, Or Matt Weiters
  4. Pittsburgh-Matt Weiters, or one of other four from above
  5. Baltimore-Ross Detwiler, smart pick with pitching coach Leo Mazzone
  6. Washington-Mike Moustakas or maybe Dan Moskos
  7. Milwaukee-Phillipe Aumount, Blake Beavan
  8. Colorado-Matt Dominguez, Dan Moskos, or Jason Heyward, could be wrong
  9. Arizona-Jason Heyward, Jarrod Parker, Blake Beavan, maybe Beau Mills
  10. San Francisco-Beau Mills, Aaron Poreda, Devon Mesoraco, Yasmil Grandal
  11. Seattle-Casey Weathers, Beau Mills, Blake Beavan
  12. Florida-Blake Beavan, Madison Baumgarner, Jarrod Parker, Michael Main
  13. Cleveland-Madison Baumgarner, Matt Dominguez, Devon Mesoraco
  14. Atlanta-Josh Smoker or Jason Heyward if he is still available
  15. Cincinnati-Kevin Ahrens, Casey Weathers if available, Devon Mesoraco
  16. Toronto-Dan Moskos, Aaron Poreda, Jarrod Parker, Joe Savery
  17. Texas-Matt Harvey, Julio Borbon, Michael Main, Joe Savery
  18. St. Louis-Andrew Brackman, Matt Harvey, James Simmons, Nick Schmidt
  19. Philadelphia-Jarrod Parker, Devon Mesoraco, Michael Burgess, Matt Harvey
  20. LA Dodgers-Jake McGeary, or whatever other HS pitcher drops to them
  21. Toronto-James Simmons, Nick Schmidt, Aaron Poreda, Wes Roemer
  22. San Francisco-Aaron Poreda, Nick Schmidt, Casey Weathers if he falls
  23. San Diego-Nick Schmidt, Devon Mesoraco, Nick Noonan
  24. Texas-Michael Main, Julio Borbon, Andrew Brackman if he falls
  25. White Sox-Chris Withrow, Devon Mesoraco, Yasmil Grandal
  26. Oakland-Matt LaPorta, Kyle Russell, Sean Doolittle, Devon Mesoraco
  27. Detroit-Devon Mesoraco, Tim Alderson, Michael Burgess, Nevin Griffith
  28. Minnesota-Peter Kozma, Will Middlebrooks, Nick Noonan, Wendell Fairley
  29. San Francisco-Brett Cecil, Yasmil Grandal, Mitch Canham,
  30. New York AL-Julio Borbon, Kyle Russell, Michael Burgess, Matt Mangini

Alfac Effect-1st Round or college

The 2005 Aflac High School Baseball Classic brings together 38 of the best draft eligible high school players in the country.  Lots of scouts show up to evaluate this select group of talented players.  But less than half the players will end up signing contracts and going pro.  The players from the 2004 and 2005 Aflac Classics were drafted in 2005 and 2006.  In 2006 only 17 of the 38 signed.  Less than half of the players signed each year.  This will be the third year that Aflac Classic players can be drafted.

Dellin Betances RHP 6′ 9" 215 Grand Street Campus School
(Brooklyn, NY)
Brent Brewer SS/OF 6′ 3" 195 Sandy Creek High School
(Tyrone, GA)
David Christensen OF 6′ 2" 195 Stoneman Douglas High School
(Parkland, FL)
Andrew Clark 1B 6′ 2" 200 New Palestine High School
(New Palestine, IN)
Cedric Hunter OF 6′ 1" 185 Martin Luther King High School
(Lithonia, GA)
Ryan Jackson SS 6′ 2" 170 Florida Christian School
(Miami, FL)
Jeremy Jeffress RHP 6′ 1" 180 Halifax County High School
(South Boston, VA)
Cody Johnson 1B/OF 6′ 4" 195 Mosley High School
(Panama City, FL)
Kasey Kiker LHP 5′ 11" 185 Russell County High School
(Phenix City, AL)
Torre Langley C 5′ 10" 175 Alexander High School
(Winston, GA)
Matt Latos RHP 6′ 5" 205 Coconut Creek High School
(Miami, FL)
Chris Marrero 3B 6′ 3" 195 Monsignor Pace High School
(Miami, FL)
Cory Rasmus RHP/3B 6′ 0" 198 Russell County High School
(Phenix City, AL)
Derrick Robinson OF 6′ 0" 170 P.K. Yonge High School
(Archer, FL)
Billy Rowell 3B/SS 6′ 4" 198 Bishop Eustace Prep
(Sewell, NJ)
Max Sapp C 6′ 2" 210 Bishop Moore High School
(Windermere, FL)
Gerald Sullivan RHP 6′ 4" 195 Mt. Olive High School
(Budd Lake, NJ)
Chris Walden RHP 6′ 3" 181 Bellefontaine High School
(Bellefontaine, OH)
Colton Willems RHP 6′ 4" 190 John Carroll High School
(Fort Pierce, FL)
2005 West Team
Name Pos. Hgt. Wgt. School
Ryan Adams SS 6′ 0" 185 Jesuit High School
(Mandeville, LA)
Robbie Alcombrack 3B/C 6′ 1" 205 Bear River High School
(Grass Valley, CA)
Brett Anderson LHP 6′ 4" 205 Stillwater High School
(Stillwater, OK)
Nathan Bridges SS 6′ 1" 170 Villa Park High School
(Yorba Linda, CA)
Gavin Brooks LHP/1B 6′ 3" 192 Rancho Buena Vista High School
(Vista, CA)
Hank Conger 3B/C 6′ 0" 210 Huntington Beach High School
(Huntington Beach, CA)
Kyle Drabek RHP/SS 6′ 0" 190 The Woodlands High School
(The Woodlands, TX)
Grant Green SS 6′ 3" 185 Canyon High School
(Anaheim Hills, CA)
Taylor Hammack LHP 6′ 3" 210 Angleton High School
(Angleton, TX)
Ryan Jenkins RHP 6′ 5" 195 Cypress Falls High School
(Houston, TX)
Aaron Miller LHP/1B 6′ 3" 200 Channelview High School
(Channelview, TX)
Jared Mitchell OF 6′ 0" 195 Westgate High School
(New Iberia, LA)
Chris Parmelee 1B 6′ 1" 200 Chino Hills High School
(Chino Hills, CA)
Jeff Rapoport OF 6′ 0" 183 Westlake High School
(Westlake, CA)
Chad Robinson RHP 6′ 5" 205 Silverado High School
(Las Vegas, NV)
Drew Rundle OF 6′ 3" 180 Bend High School
(Bend, OR)
Devin Shepherd OF 6′ 4" 230 Oxnard High School
(Oxnard, CA)
Chris Tillman RHP 6′ 5" 190 Fountain Valley High School
(Fountain Valley, CA)
Jordan Walden RHP 6′ 4" 185 Mansfield High School
(Mansfield, TX)

And then here is the list of players that signed after being drafted.

Card #                        Name                       High School                  Drafted By in 2006    Round Selected

1 of 14

Billy Rowell
Bishop Eustace
Baltimore Orioles
1
2 of 14
Kasey Kiker
Russell County
Texas Rangers
1
3 of 14
Chris Marrero
Monsignor Pace
Nationals
1
4 of 14
Jeremy Jeffress
Halifax County
Milwaukee Brewers
1
5 of 14
Kyle Drabek
The Woodlands
Philadelphia Phillies
1
6 of 14
Chris Parmelee
Chino Hills
Minnesota Twins
1
7 of 14
Colton Willems
John Carroll
Nationals
1
8 of 14
Cody Johnson
Mosley
Atlanta Braves
1
9 of 14
Hank Conger
Huntington Beach
Angels
1
10 of 14
Cory Rasmus
Russell County
Atlanta Braves
1
11 of 14
David Christensen
Stoneman Douglas
Colorado Rockies
2
12 of 14
Chris Tillman
Fountain Valley
Seattle Mariners
2
13 of 14
Torre Langley
Alexander
Florida Marlins
3
14 of 14
Robby Alcombrack
Bear River
Cleveland Indians
7

15   Brett Anderson signed late

16   Matt Latos signed late

17   Jonathan Walden signed late

So here is the list of players from the 2006 Aflac Classic.  If half of these players look like first rounders, logically then the other half are long shots to sign.  But some will sign.  So this is a good example of why predicting the baseball draft is more difficult than the football and basketball drafts.

So that is 12 of the 38 total Aflac players.  Lets say that I am right with 10 of the 12.  Lets be aggressive and sign that 19 players sign, which is more than ever before.   So best estimate is that only 9 of the 26 players that I did not list will sign pro contracts during this draft.  So being selected to play in the Aflac classic does not guarentee a Million Dollar bonus the next summer. 

Draft-and-follows sign

I went to the MLB site today, and didn’t see my blog on the list of blogs.  I have nothing prepared, but I want to save something and see if I show back up.  So today will be just some ramblings, no rankings.

This is the last year of the draft-and-follow rule.  Players drafted last year that attended junior college could be signed this year before the draft.  The biggest names this year were Matt Latos and Jordan Walden.  They have both signed big contracts and should start playing around June 20th this year. 

The draft-and-follow rule has also been used by Scott Boras to get around signing rules.  In 2006, it was Max Scherzer who didn’t sign with Arizona, quit college, and gambled that he would get more money by wasting one of the best years of his life.  Now he has signed for less money than he turned down last year.  He also has a huge target on his back for putting money ahead of the game.  My sad prediction for Scherzer is that he will never fully recover from the year away from organized baseball.  Injury will be a possibility if he is not prepared for the grind of minor league ball.   So he missed one year by holding out.  This year he will try to build up strength.  But if he gets hurts and needs surgery, then he misses another year, then after a year of rehab, he looks forward to another year of building up strength again.  So his timetable could have him making his major league debut in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, or never.

Don’t forget that the early part of the draft is being televised on ESPN2.  The draft has also been moved to Thursday and Friday this year.   Each year I take the first Tuesday in June off for the draft.  So this year, I had to change my request.

If you want to test your drafting ability, find out when your team drafts, and make your own picks.  I always draft in the Twins draft position.  You can do this real time by choosing an undrafted player.  Or you can do a delayed draft, where you choose players the following day.  Some of my most successful picks have been drafting Jake Peavy in the 6th round of the 1999 draft and Dontrelle Willis in the 3rd round in the 2000 draft.  Both of those players would look great in the Twins rotation this year.