Dodgers drafting LSU-bound quarterback Zach Lee raises eyebrows


The Dodgers selecting Texas high school right-hander Zach Lee with the 28th overall pick last night raised some eyebrows because he was considered one of the draft’s most “unsignable” prospects and they’re rumored to be cutting corners in the wake of owner Frank McCourt’s divorce.
ESPN ranks Lee as the country’s ninth-best prep quarterback and he’s headed for LSU, unless of course the Dodgers can convince him to put football aside. Lee is reportedly asking for as much as $5 million to sign, which is a big part of why he was available with the 28th pick in the first place.
If the Dodgers don’t sign Lee they’ll get a compensation pick in essentially the same spot next year, basically delaying any investment in the pick. Or maybe the Dodgers actually do intend to sign Lee, in which case they’ll have gotten a premium talent in a less-than-premium draft position. Assistant general manager Logan White runs the Dodgers’ draft and said the following about picking Lee:

I’m optimistic we’re going to make our best effort, definitely our best effort, to get out there and get this done. I would say I’m cautiously optimistic. As the summer plays out, you’ll see the effort will be made. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that we’re going to get him to sign. It’s really going to be Zach’s decision.

I understand the concern. I can only give you my word. I’ve always been straight up. I’ve always tried to take the best player. If I think the player is the 28th-best player in the country, we certainly pay him like the 28th player. But if I think his ability is a little bit better than that, we certainly recognize that.

Frank [McCourt] has always been very aware of what we’re doing and what’s going on. He’s very much a big supporter and very on board with it. I don’t mean it bragging, but when you look at our major-league team and what we’ve been able to do with the draft and the international signs, you see why he’s a supporter.

White and the Dodgers will (probably) be trying to keep Lee away from LSU, but this afternoon they drafted LSU outfielder Leon Landry with the 109th overall pick.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images

I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.