The 2017 MLB Draft begins this Monday, June 12th, with the first 75 picks. The rest of the first 10 rounds will take place on Tuesday, followed by round 11 through 40 on Wednesday. Those first 10 rounds are especially important because they are the ones covered by the draft pool/budget that was established prior to the 2012 draft. Every pick through the end of round 10 has a slot value, and the combined value of each team's picks through that point in the draft add up to the team's draft pool.
Teams are allowed to go over the draft pool budget, but they must pay a 75 percent tax on every dollar they go over. In the four years this system has been in place, no team has exceeded their assigned budget by more than 5 percent, because going over by that much would not only trigger the tax, it would also require the team to forfeit its first-round pick in the following year's draft.
Teams with higher picks have a higher total draft pool because the picks early in each round have higher slot value than later picks. The Twins hold the first overall pick, and that spot alone has a slot value of $7,770,700, more than double the entire draft pool of the Indians, whose assigned budget for their picks through the end of round 10 is $3,829,000, which ranks 29th among the 30 teams.
Why is the Indians draft pool so low? It’s because the Tribe forfeited a first round pick when they signed Edwin Encarnacion, who turned down a first round qualifying offer from the Blue Jays to become a free agent. The worst part about losing the pick is the fact that with the new collective bargaining agreement, the qualifying offers were removed following this offseason, so the Indians will be the last team to lose a draft pick by signing a major free agent.
Here is the specific value for each of the Indians' picks:
- Second round (64): $969,900
- Supplemental (71): $816,500
- Third round (102): $527,600
- Fourth round (132): $393,900
- Fifth round (162): $293,800
- Sixth round (192): $228,000
- Seventh round (222): $179,500
- Eighth round (252): $150,200
- Ninth round (282): $138,300
- Tenth round (312): $131,300
The Indians don’t exactly have a lot of draft pool money to play around with and they don’t have a premium draft position either, so don’t be surprised if they play it safe this year and go for more consistent collegiate players who will sign cheaply. Perhaps they can free up enough capital to go for a prep prospect who falls in the draft due to signability concerns, but the team is working with a pretty serious handicap this draft.
It must be noted that while each pick has a specific value, the budget and penalties are tied to the combined value of the picks who are signed (and any top 10 draft pick who is not signed has the value of their slot subtracted from the team's budget). What this means is that teams can go over quite a bit on a couple of their picks as long as they sign some of their other picks to an under-slot deal. Players drafted in round eight, nine, and 10 are often picked because they've agreed in advance to sign for very little money, freeing up room in the budget to go over-slot on players drafted in earlier rounds, oftentimes in order to convince a talented high school player to forgo playing college ball.