Note: I’ve corrected some figures that were initially listed wrongly.
Jim Callis of Baseball America reports that the 2011 draft class received a grand total of $228 million in signing bonuses, with their total guaranteed money rising to $236 million once major-league contracts are factored in.
That represents a 16 percent increase over last season, when the 2010 draft class combined for a then-record $196 million in signing bonuses and $202 million in total guaranteed money.
In other words, MLB’s attempt to suppress bonuses by bullying teams into following their “slot” recommendations hasn’t exactly gone as planned. Teams spent $132 million for players signed on the August 15 deadline day alone.
And while $228 million for a bunch of high school and college players sounds like an insane amount of money–and it certainly is, on a player-by-player basis–collectively the draft class will ultimately provide far more value than that to teams during their cost-controlled, pre-free agency seasons. And it would have been $231 million had Tyler Beede not turned down the Blue Jays for Vanderbilt.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.