Why is this post-worthy, you ask? Well, there was a book written about the last time that a team cornered a draft's early rounds. Oakland had their infamous "Moneyball" Draft, in which they basically changed baseball's ways of thinking(or aired out sabermetric's secrets to the public, depending on who you're asking) by having an insane amount of picks early on.
How did the A's(and now the Rays) get so many draft picks? Well, they used MLB's collective bargaining agreement to their advantage. As of right now, teams aren't allowed to trade picks or anything with where you pick, but the current CBA has "draft pick compensation" for teams who lose Type A and Type B Free Agents. Type A Free Agents net the team that they are departing a 1st round pick(as long as its not in the Top 15 picks, which are considered "protected". Otherwise, it's a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Also if a team signs multiple Type As, picks are decided by Elias Free Agent Rankings) and a Supplemental round pick. Type B Free Agents give the FA's former team a pick in the Supplemental round.
By the Rays offering arbitration to Rafael Soriano(Type A), Carl Crawford(A), Grant Balfour(A), Brad Hawpe(B), Chad Qualls(B) and Randy Choate(B) and all players declining arbitration, they netted a 1st round pick #s 24 and 31 from Boston and New York(Yankees) for the signings of Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano and 5 supplemental picks(for Soriano, Crawford, Hawpe, Qualls and Choate signings). Grant Balfour has a chance, albeit a small one, to add to the 1st round total and will definitely add to the supplemental total. However, rumors have him returning to Rays.
Again, why the hoopla and the reasoning behind this blog post?
Well, according to many sources, the 2011 MLB Draft Class is considered to be the deepest draft class in regards to "premium" talent and it's believed to be the last draft class under the current CBA Draft Pick Compensation and Signing Bonus rules. Oh, did I forget to mention the signing bonus rules? Right now, MLB's signing bonuses aren't regulated by rules. The MLB currently gives team "slot recommendations" on what the signing bonus SHOULD be. It's usually what the average of the last 3 yrs of that pick #s bonus amount is, plus/minus 10-15%. However, teams can and will go waaaaay above "slot" to sign the player. More often then not, picks after the 1st round are "over-slot" signings if they're HS-aged players.
So what better way to celebrate the end of how a small-market team can use CBA's rules and regulations to their advantage, than to get as many early draft picks in a "LOADED" draft-class and go insane with signing bonuses? The Rays currently have the 2nd best Farm System in baseball, according to Baseball America, but they can surpass the KC and put a large margin between the 2 teams with a "good"-to-"great" Draft Class. For the Rays, this could mean that the Rays will continually stay in contention by mixing college and HS players. Oh yeah, there's 49 additional rounds after these 9 picks. 58 picks in 1 draft and usually 30-35 are signed.
Little Known Fact to leave readers with: Before the 2010 draft, the Rays never had compensation draft picks for lost Free Agents. Ever.
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