The MLB First-Year Player Draft will take place from June 6 to June 8, meaning we are only three weeks away from one of the biggest events of the baseball calendar. During those three weeks we'll be taking a look at some of top prospects, linking to lists from respected talent evaluators, and weighing in as best we can on top players' merits for the Tribe. Before getting into that though, I think it's wise to review a few of the draft's rules (some of which have changed fairly recently) and look at where the Indians stand heading into the draft.
For years, MLB has set slot values for early picks, financial ceilings for each draft choice which they pressured teams to keep from going over. Some teams followed those instructions fairly strictly, while others ignored them. Last year, in an attempt to further suppress young players' salaries and make it harder for teams to ignore the slot figures, MLB implemented a new cap on the bonuses given out to players drafted in the first ten rounds. Each team is now given a set budget (based on its specific draft picks in the first ten rounds) to cover all players drafted in rounds 1-10 (bonuses in excess of $100,000 given out to players after the first ten counts also count against this cap). Technically, a team may go beyond its cap figure, but the penalties for doing so are severe:
- A team that exceeds its budget by less than 5% is subject to a 75% tax on the overage.
- A team that exceeds its budget by 5-10% is subject to a 75% tax on the overage and the loss of their 1st round pick in the following season.
- A team that exceeds its budget by 10-15% is subject to a 100% tax on the overage and the loss of their 1st and 2nd round picks in the following season.
- A team that exceeds its budget by more than 5% is subject to a 100% tax on the overage and the loss of their 1st round pick for the following two seasons.
I'm hard-pressed to believe any team will willingly forfeit their 1st round pick just so that they can spend more money this year, so I doubt we'll see any team exceed its cap figure by more than 5%, and few teams are likely to exceed their figure at all.