If you've been following me on Twitter, I've been updating you on next year's 2016 draft order. Despite this, I don't actually want the Oakland Athletics to lose games. I cheered when Billy Butler put this over in the ninth inning today:
Country Breakfast with a crunch! pic.twitter.com/RbmXRc5EoI— Oakland Athletics (@Athletics) September 17, 2015
But I would not mind seeing the bottom of the National League surge to the finish and let the A's move up. Here's where 2016's top 10 draft picks stand after today's day game:
|1||Phillies||56||91||.381||----||L vs WSH||IDLE|
|2||Braves||57||89||.390||1.5||L vs TOR||vs TOR 4:10 PM|
|3||Rockies||61||85||.418||5.5||L at LAD||IDLE|
|4||Reds||61||84||.421||6.0||L vs SFG||IDLE|
|5||Brewers||62||83||.428||7.0||L vs STL||vs STL 5:10 PM|
|6||Athletics||63||84||.429||7.0||L at CWS||W at CWS|
|7||Marlins||63||83||.432||7.5||W at NYM||at WSH 4:05 PM|
|8||Tigers||67||78||.462||12.0||W at MIN||IDLE|
|9||Padres||69||78||.465||13.0||W at ARI||IDLE|
|11||Red Sox||69||76||.476||14.0||.438||W at BAL||IDLE|
|12||White Sox||69||76||.476||14.0||.451||W vs OAK||L vs OAK|
The Phillies and Braves are on their own island of awful, but the A's realistically could draft anywhere from No. 3 to No. 7 next year. A tie is broken by 2014's standings, and the A's did better than all of those teams. The A's magic number is 10 to clinch a top 10 pick protected from forfeiture due to signing a player who received a qualifying offer.
I am not hoping the A's beat the Rockies or Reds or Brewers to the next Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, or Carlos Correa by virtue of being a few spots higher in the order. The difference in the likelihood of finding a superstar at No. 3 is not that much different than at No. 7 (though the change in those chances is more significant the further apart the picks, of course)
More important is that in the top 5 draft slots, the amount of draft bonus slot money available rises quite dramatically, like buying the third house in Monopoly. The last couple of years, the jump from picking No. 6 to No. 5 is around $300,000 in the first round. From No. 5 to No. 4 another $800,000. From No. 4 to No. 3, another $1,000,000.
In the last draft, all of the top five picks signed for under slot. No. 2 overall pick Alex Bregman signed for $5.9 million, some $1.5 million under the value allocated for that slot. This and other smaller savings enabled the Astros to sign Daz Cameron for $4.0 million with the No. 37 pick ($2.3 million over slot) and Riley Ferrell for $1 million with the No. 79 pick ($234,400 over slot).
Cameron had been projected to be a top-five pick in most mock drafts, wrote Chris Cotillo for MLB Daily Dish, but the signability of the high schooler committed to Florida State was at issue. Houston's big bonus pool enabled the Astros to draft an extra top 10 prospect as teams with smaller pools passed for signability concerns.
Past the top four, however, players signed at slot or within $400,000 of their slot value. For the A's last year, they signed No. 20 overall pick Richie Martin around $250,000 below his slot value, which helped them sign third round pick Dakota Chalmers for around $600,000 over slot and fourth round pick Skye Bolt at $200,000 over slot.
All Oakland could do with that little money last June was get a second round talent with signability issues in the third round, and that impacted the rest of their draft strategy. A top talent that might need to be signed at a million dollars or more over his slot value needs to be counterbalanced with a big bonus pool.
But again, I don't want the A's to lose. I happen to think clubhouse chemistry can be built both by winning and having the "good clubhouse guys." What we get out of the A's this September will set the foundation for next April. So root for strong finishes from the Rockies, Reds, Brewers, and Marlins. And root for the A's.