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.
It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.
Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.
That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.