I just heard back from Frank Coonelly regarding the Pirates' 2012 draft pool, and he clarified that the number will actually be significantly less than the $10 million that, in December, he seemed to suggest it would be.
Here's the background: in December, Vlad and I and several other bloggers interviewed Coonelly at PirateFest. The first question came from me, and I asked how big the Pirates' 2012 draft pool would be. You can read my questions and Coonelly's answers here. Coonelly seemed to say that the draft pool would be about $10 million. That answer surprised me, because my own math suggested the number should actually be significantly less than that. The draft pool only covers the first 10 rounds of the draft, and signing bonuses above $100,000 per pick for picks after that also count against that total.
Earlier this week, however, Jim Callis of Baseball America reported that the Pirates' 2012 pool would be only about $6.6 million, a very significant difference. I knew that, in December, Coonelly had been counting on getting two compensation picks, for Ryan Doumit and Derrek Lee, and now it looks like they'll only get the one for Doumit. But that still doesn't explain a difference of $3.4 million, since one compensation pick would be worth much less than that. So I wrote to both Callis and Coonelly to figure out what was going on.
Callis wrote back immediately, essentially confirming what he'd already written. I heard from Coonelly this afternoon. Here's what he had to say.
I have not crosschecked Jim’s numbers with the current state of the world, but my estimate from December has moved in several important respects, and it was an estimate of our total draft spend and not just our spend in the first 10 rounds.
First, I was assuming that we would be receiving two compensation selections between the first and second rounds. It now looks like we will not receive a compensation selection for Derrek Lee. We had estimated that Lee would bring a selection around [No.] 40 and roughly a $1.3M addition to the pool. That number looks to be zero now.
Second, there were more compensation selections granted to other clubs than we had estimated. There seem to have been many agreements by players not to accept an arbitration offer. These additional compensation selections reduce the value of all of our selections following our first-round selection, beginning with our lone compensation selection (for Doumit) through our 10th-round selection. In early December, we were estimating that our 12 selections in the first 10 rounds would create a pool of approximately $8M, but the large number of compensation selections mean that our 11 selections in the first 10 rounds now will create a smaller pool.
In addition, my estimate from December included an estimate for the money that we would spend in rounds 11-40. We had estimated that we would spend approximately $2M there for the total of $10M.
So it sounds like Callis' reporting -- not that there was really a reason to doubt it in the first place -- was right, or essentially right. Assuming that the Pirates' pool will be about $6.6 million, they'll be able to spend about $8.6 million if they spend $2 million on the last 30 picks, as Coonelly estimates, or a hair more than $8.6 million if they pay a tax for the overage. My sense is that it will be tricky to spend $2 million on the last 30 picks, given that teams aren't supposed to go above $100,000 on them. But it may be possible to pull off a $400,000 signing or two later in the draft by getting a few picks in the top 10 rounds to sign for less than the recommended pool maximum, and then using the leftover funds on late-round picks. Of course, the overage comes out of their pool money, which we've already accounted for.
In any case, it sounds like we should trust Callis' numbers on this one.