So, often in the new draft slotting system teams use the 11th round pick on high upside guys that are tough to sign. This is smart as there is little risk in doing this vs the first 10 rounds as I will explain later. Kep Brown was one of these high upside guys. He was falling and falling and about to go into the 11th round as expected at this point, but the something happened. The Cardinals plucked him in the 10th. This was strange and very risky and but possibly very smart. Let's look at why:
(Hint: I wrote this well the first time and so much of this is copied and pasted from a comment of mine in a recent RB post found here http://www.vivaelbirdos.com/2015/6/10/8756587/2015-mlb-draft-day-three-top-talent-available#comments. I advise reading that post anyway and hope you read this here or in the comment and reply with your opinion, we are a blog after all)
After talking with man in charge of Future Redbirds here, Eric Johnson/fourstick, the night before, our resident draft expert Red Baron wrote a post with some quick thoughts about Day 2 of the Cardinals 2015 draft that included this:
Seeing the Cardinals select two high schoolers in the back half of the first ten rounds was flat-out inexplicable. I’m hoping they know something I don’t about how much bonus money they’re going to be able to free up to sign Brown and Ian Oxnevad, the lefty from the Pacific Northwest, but it feels like a very long shot they’re going to be able to get either of those guys, much less both. There’s an interesting game theory element to this situation, in that the Redbirds basically took two guys who would normally fit in the 11th-13th round range, where the bonuses have that 100K buffer and don’t cost you anything not to sign, and took them earlier, before anyone else would be able to take them first. They traded a whole lot of downside risk for an opportunity that very well might not have come along at all later on, when the risk was lower. I’m really afraid it’s not going to pay off for them, but it’s a really interesting tactic all the same
Now, there are essentially 3 reasons the Cards would take Brown in the 10th (and i supposed Oxnevad in the 9th)
1) they want them and think they are worth the risk of signing – I will explain how this could be pretty smart in a second. I thought this and think this now, RB seems to think it
2)they are blocking someone from getting them in the 11th – I, like many, don’t like this from a moral or strategic perspective as it is penalizing the players, like Brown, for other teams that have more pool money liking them and maybe souring future player negotiations. Fourstick thought this at least at first, may think it now or may think 1. I don’t know
3) they were drunk/insane and forgot what round it was, how the pool system worked or that it was there
I would say 3 is pretty unlikely, 1 is pretty likely and 2 is plausable.
For 1 being smart here is what you have to remember:
-In the first 10 rounds each pick has a budget added to the overall signing pool. You get this addition to the pool if you sign said player whether they sign over or under the slots amount and lose it if you do not sign the player drafted for that slot
-after the 10th round each round also has a budget of money to sign a player, the pool is only in effect after the 10th round in that you can add whatever is left from the pool to the budget for the pick to sign the player. Signing under the slot no longer has incentive to the team in the strategy of the draft as it does not add to the pool and not signing a player after the 10th does not effect the pool.
-signing a player after the 10th for over that draft slot's budget plus what is left of the pool is the same as going over the pool before the 10th and carries the same penalties
-These facts draw teams to pick tough signs that would go higher but fell due to signability concerns in the 11th+ rounds
-the Cardinals pick 23rd in these rounds, after many other teams who will be pick the same tough signs that the Cardinals may want
-picks through the comp rounds are protected and replaced with a pick the next year if they do not sign but are also much larger chunks of your pool
That means the downsides to taking these guys before the 11th but after the comp rounds are
-loss of that pick if they don’t sign without a pick being replaced the next year
-loss of that pool money
The upsides to taking these guys before the 11th but after the comp rounds are
-not losing as large of a part of that pool for this year if they do not sign as you would from a comp pick
-getting a crack at these guys before the 22 teams ahead of you
If you pick a guy expecting him to sign at or over slot anyway you aren’t losing any of your pool for other players, just losing that player (given that’s a big deal since that’s what the draft is all about but you took that risk drafting the guy). And if you are afraid a guy won’t sign it’s possible that the higher slot money of the protected pick is worth more to you than the pick/money next year but the lower slot money is worth less to you than getting that player that you fear other teams will get and sign
*For the rest of this article I will call the payer plus pool money the package as you may value a guy drafted somewhere in the first 10 rounds for signing under slot
So the move is smart if you value that pick less than the packages you grabbed in the protected rounds, more than the 10th (or 9th) pool and pick and less than a pick next year and if you believe strongly that someone ahead of you will grab them in the 11th. Basically, you get an extra crack at an 11th round tough sign guy and get to hand pick that guy before the other teams get to the 11th round in exchange for risking your 10th round pick/money without having to risk a higher pool of money being shifted back to next year where things are likely more top heavy and more importantly likely not as deep.
While I disagree that Woodford or Hicks were more valuable in the protected rounds, the Cardinals are much better than me at player evaluation and contract negotiation and I think that valuing Brown higher than a 10th round pick/pool and the possible 3rd or 4th round pick/pool next year are right and the strategy is very risky but smart.
I am also not justifying what the Cardinals did because the Cardinals did it, I suggesting this with Stallings (or maybe Cabbage before he was picked) either here or minorleagueball in the comments during the protected round and I am excited that a team was clever enough and not too risk averse to do this. I am even more excited that this team was the Cardinals and the pick was Kep Brown who is really good and along the lines of Stallings as far a skill set. Oh and none of this changes that taking a tough to sign but high upside guy like Satallings or Aiello in the 11th is smart and virtually risk free. So, they probably get another crack at a guy like this in case Brown doesn’t sign or if we’re lucky enough there is enough budget left for both (I seriously doubt the second one but never say never)
So what do you think? Was the logic smart? Was it smart but only in a year like this? Was the player valuation smart? Would you have taken the risk? Would you have preferred to use a protected pick on such a player?