BRADENTON, Fla. — The values MLB assigns to the various draft positions as part of the new bonus pool process are sure to be leaked each year. Certainly, agents will get hold of the data to use when negotiating signing bonuses. But GM Neal Huntington believes there still will be many players who are willing to sign for less than the set amount.
“Sure, there will be,” Huntington said. “It’s more about just trying to make sure that a $5-million player is drafted where he should be. It’s an effort to stop the high-dollar signs, not just the multi-million-dollar signs. The sixth-round pick who gets $500,000 and the 18th-rounder who gets $400,000 — that’s more who’s going to be impacted. There’s still going to be a large number of players who get a million dollars and $500,000 and above. That really hasn’t changed. It’s just how the money is allocated. One club can’t cluster six or seven of those guys, unless you’re really creative elsewhere in the draft.”
High school players likely will be affected the most. “The high school player who asks for $1 million who knows he’ll sign for $500,000, if he stays firm at $1 million, he’s going to be priced out of the draft,” Huntington said. “No longer can he be taken in the 42nd round and negotiate. He’s got to be taken in the first x-number of picks. If he’s not selected there, he’s priced himself out of the draft. It will be interesting from both perspectives. How realistic are guys with their figures. I think there’s going to be a lot of guys who end up in college this year who thought they were going to be drafted.”
That does not mean the Pirates will shift their draft strategy toward college players. “We certainly still like the high school player and believe our development environment is the best place for ,” Huntington said. “But college is also good at what they do. For some players, college is the right path. We’ll have to go through a couple cycles before the true implications are worked through. It’s going to be an interesting process.”
»»» I spotted RHP Brad Lincoln wearing a small brace on his right knee this morning in the clubhouse. “Just a little tendinitis,” Lincoln assured me. “I’m trying to keep it under control.”
»»» Here are the final results in last week’s Trib fan poll, in which we asked your reaction to the A.J. Burnett trade: I’m thrilled! He’ll make the team better got 571 votes (70 percent); I’m OK with it, but it won’t do much got 228 votes (28 percent); Yech! Bad trade actually got 21 votes (3 percent). This week’s query is whether you think the Pirates should do whatever it takes to sign Andrew McCutchen to a multi-year contract extension.