UPDATE: There was a question as to compensation for the lost 3rd round pick, and I have confirmed that we’d get a pick in a new compensatory round between the 3rd and 4th round if we didn’t sign Workman, we wouldn’t get the same pick (ie, the 12th) in next year’s draft.
That’s the big question we face, with the signing deadline tomorrow. It’s nothing new at this point, our two best unsigned prospects are Brandon Workman and Julian Sampson, both RHP. Workman is a 3rd round pick, and if he doesn’t sign, the Phillies receive a compensation pick in next year’s draft, which I believe will come between the 3rd and 4th rounds. If Sampson does not sign, the Phillies receive nothing but a thank you note from the Commish. If you’ve been following my blog and my writings, you know where I stand on this. As a front office, you have two decisions; you either play by the unofficial rules, or you do what you want. The Commissioners Office makes recommendations on slot bonuses, but if you follow the proper path, you can sign a player for whatever you want. A lot of teams do not go against the wishes of the Commissioner, but some teams do, and the most notable team of late is the Detroit Tigers.
As you all know, the Tigers broke slot to sign Cameron Maybin in 2005, and they did it again with Andrew Miller last year. Miller was the consensus #1 overall pick, but dropped to Detroit because of bonus demands. The Tigers snapped him up, paid him his money, and he’s already contributed at the big league level. This year, Rick Porcello was the consensus #2 pick behind David Price, and he tumbled down the board because of bonus demands in the Josh Beckett neighborhood. Well, he got to Detroit, and again they took the chance, and it now appears they are going to sign him for somewhere around $7.7 million dollars, a sum which a lot of teams probably won’t spend on their entire draft. Is it any surprise that Detroit lost 119 games in 2003 and then won a pennant in 2006? If you don’t spend money on young talent, you won’t improve. Look at teams that have taken the cheap route the last few seasons, and notice they are always picking in the same spot in the draft because they don’t understand how to improve their team.
Look, I’m not saying that you should give every kid out there a million dollars to sign, that’s not realistic. Brandon Workman and Julian Sampson may very well never make it out of A ball, they might both blow out their arms. But, one of them might be the next Kyle Kendrick, or the next Joba Chamberlain, or Brett Myers. Who knows. With prospects, you seriously don’t know. But ask yourself this, isn’t it troubling that the team is willing to overpay a guy like Rod Barajas, but they aren’t prepared to roll the dice on a young prep arm that could be a difference maker in 4 years? Barajas cost the Phillies $3M this season, and for $3 million dollars, they could have taken 4 quality high school arms in rounds 4-7, signed all of them to above slot deals, and hoped one of them panned out. If even 1 of those 4 guys turns into an elite pitching prospect, you’re already getting more value than you are for signing Rod Barajas, a guy who hasn’t contributed much at all, and a guy who was surplus goods considering you already had Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste. Some people contend that a draft budget isn’t related to the major league budget, but I think that thinking is unfounded and untrue, especially within this organization.
The Phillies have always played nice with the Commissioners Office, and that’s not surprising, considering the role of Bill Giles in the organization. But it’s time for the Phillies to realize that they have to spend money here to compete, especially when they aren’t willing to raise payroll above their self imposed $95M salary cap.
Here is a look at the bonuses confirmed for 3rd round picks, to date. The numbers were even lower than the $500,000 that I was thinking about yesterday.
3.1 Nick Barnese, RHP (High School) – $366,000
3.10 Scott Carroll, LHP (College) – $310,000
3.12 Jameson Smith, C (Comm College) – $310,000
3.14 Brandon Hicks, SS (College) – $283,500
Workman, of course, is 3.13 and is unsigned. It’s clear he won’t get slot, but what does he realistically want to sign? Here are some of the confirmed signings in the second round
2.1 Will Kline, RHP (College) – $513,000
2.12 Mike Stanton, 1B (College) – $475,000
None of the announced deals in the 2nd round are over slot by anything more than a few thousand dollars. If he’s asking for more than $500,000, then he’s basically asking for supplemental first round money. That seems optimistic to me, considering he wasn’t really a first round talent, more of a fringe guy in the 2nd or 3rd round. If this is the case, you can understand the Phillies being reluctant, but if he wants $500,000, and the slot for his spot is $310,000, is the extra $200,000 worth losing him to Texas? Sampson, on the other side of the coin, was rumored to want 3rd round money, and looking at the list above, you can see what 3rd round money is.
If I had to pick one, I’d rather have Sampson, because he is more refined than Workman and has a bit more polish. Also, if we do sign Sampson and not Workman, we get the above mentioned compensation pick. My gut feeling? We won’t sign either guy, and the Phillies will spin it as them trying their hardest, but not being able to come to terms. The reality will be, the Commissioner leaned heavy on the Phillies to not buck the trend, and the Phillies will listen. They’ve signed two guys to above slot deals in Jiwan James and Jacob Diekman, but they saved cash on Tyler Mach, and the two above slot deals were not huge deals in the neighborhood of what Workman is looking for. If the Phillies want to prove to the fans that follow this stuff that they are for real, they’ll sign both. If they want to make a step in the right direction, they’ll sign Sampson. If they again show that they just don’t get it, they’ll sign no one and give the status quo response. I guess we’ll see soon enough.