Jim Callis of Baseball America crunched the (preliminary) numbers and reports that MLB teams combined to spend approximately $208 million signing draft picks this year.
That’s obviously an incredible amount of money, but Callis notes that teams spent around $236 million on draft picks last year.
Part of the decrease comes from this year’s draft class being much weaker in terms of elite-level talent, but the changes in the collective bargaining agreement that provide much stricter spending limits was clearly also a driving force behind the $28 million decrease.
Interestingly, according to Callis the top seven picks cost $18 million less to sign this year than last year–eighth overall pick Mark Appel was the only first-rounder not to sign–and the rest of the 39-plus rounds worth of players cost $10 million less to sign this year than last year. So mostly the signing bonus limits cut way back on how much the elite players received and also trimmed a bit from the lesser players as well.
Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.
According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.
Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.