Monday, June 29, 2009

Why The Mets Should Overslot The Draft, Frequently

Why The Mets Should Overslot The Draft, Frequently
Tejesh Patel

Every May, we hear the Mets will be paying overslot for players, and many people get taken in, thinking this will finally be the year we draft a Luke Bailey, or a Andrew Susac, or a Tanner Robles, Tim Melville, or other HS and/or college talent (Tanner Scheppers), and every year, it doesn't happen (Brandon Efferson, James Bruno, Preston Paramore, etc...). And every year I take the Mets to task for it, but I've never actually detailed the reasons for my continual bashing/blasting of the Mets draft process, until now.

Here is, step by step (wasn't that a sitcom?), my thought process on the Mets draft philosophy, and why they should overslot the fuck out of the draft. I'll be using extreme examples in either direction, so as to not give my opponents much in the way of ammunition to fire back at me (but if you do, I will respond, I'm not trying to dissuade you, I'm trying to outthink you ;)). I do not advocate spending the amount of money per pick I'll outline below, that will come into play later in the article. Here we go.

I propose the Mets allocate 40% of their draft picks to tough sign high schoolers, and sign every one of them for $1.5 million. So, 20 picks, $30 mil, the other 30 picks, lets say they get an average of $350k each, totalling $10.5, bringing your total draft expenditure to $40.5 million. Now, keep in mind what I said above, before your head explodes and you start yelling at me in the chat box or in comments (or email,

So, take those 20 HS picks, and lets automatically say 16 of them flame out completely. Absolute busts. Worth nothing to you in any regard whatsoever (think Daniel Stegall, Brahiam Maldonado, Parris Austin) Kay? Kay. Now, the other 4, lets say 2 of them are hitters, and 2 of them are pitchers. 3 of the 4 become league average players, 100 OPS+, 100 ERA+, yada yada, absolutely average in every way (for your MLB team, not traded - think a Nick Evans, Jon Niese type).

OK, so you've got 3 league average players, 1 as of yet unspecified player, and 16 busts for $30 mil, and you're thinking to yourself...Tej, this is why they shouldn't overslot! Patience, my young padawans, my reasoning is forthcoming.

Lets take these 100 ERA+, 100 OPS+ players we've developed, and put them up against indentical players on the free agent market. Lets further this example by writing it in stone these players won't get one ounce better, nor one ounce worse, over the lifetime of their contracts. Kay? Kay. Now, lets throw out a league minimum of $400,000 (which is what I believe it is right now), and as your developed players contracts are renewed (that's how it works, 3 years of basically indentured servitude, 3 years of arbitration, then FAcy), the salary increases a little. So, for our little example here, we'll go 400, 500, 600 for our 3 league average players (2 hitters and a pitcher). That's 1.5 mil each, 4.5 mil total.

Now salary arbitration, throw out some numbers, 2.5 mil, 3.25 mil, 5 mil, that's 10.75 mil each, 32.25 mil total. Add it all up, and with the bonus you have them to sign (1.5 mil each, 4.5 mil total), the first 3 years of salary (1.5 mil each, 4.5 mil total), and the 3 years of arbitration (10.75 mil each, 32.25 mil total), you've invested 13.75 mil into each player, 41.25 mil total).

Now - what are you going to pay for an identical player on the free agent market? Keep in mind my rule earlier, I'm writing it in stone these players won't get one ounce better, nor one ounce worse, over the lifetime of their contracts. Nor will they get hurt, no one in this example gets hurt over the life of their contract. However, the FAs you're signing are between 27 and 28 years old (not that it matters since they're maintaining production and health the same as these 21 year old rookies you produced). What are you going to pay for these league average players/pitchers on the open market? Lets say 6 years, 36 mil per player (again, vastly less then what you would actually be paying, at least for the pitcher, if not the league average hitter). So, 36 mil per player, 3 players...108 mil.

Take the 108 mil, subtract it from the 41.25 mil you've invested in the 3 league average players. Oh...what the hell, add up the entire draft, including those 30 college players, 41.25 mil + 36 mil (remember, the 41.25 mil includes the 4.5 mil in bonuses to the 3 leagfue average players), = 77.25 mil. 77.25 from 108 leaves you a net benefit of 30.75 mil. AND, we haven't even touched on the 30 JC and college guys, 2 or 3 of whom are likely to develop at the least into Alex Cora, Vance Wilson, Ramon Castro, Omir Santos type backups who will save you some money, too.

So, in conclusion, there you go, that's why we should overslot, because there's a damn good chance you'll be paid back in spades. And keep in mind I used a) ridiculously high bonus figures (every HSer isn't getting 1.5 mil), and b) ridiculously low salaries for FAs (6 mil for a league average pitcher? Pieces of shit like Carlos Silva get twice that).

I await your rebuttals.


  1. I agree with paying over slot but I think they should be more selective.
    The only question I have about your analysis is that your figures reflect one year of paying overslot. If you paid overslot every year it would add up and be very costly.

  2. Yes, but if you paid overslot every year, what would change about my analysis? You'd still end up paying for your costs, and then some.

    Obviously the ROI time period is between 3 and 5 years, so it'd take time to recoup your investments.

  3. You can't make an outline for a draft that is so fluid.

    Nothing can be this cut and dry. Do this, then that, then this.

    If it was an outline (which this doesn't read like), I'd be more willing to agree. Maybe. But probably not.