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MLB CBA: Basically Just A Slotting System

Jim Callis tweets about some new details regarding changes to the draft. This one is the real killer:

More from exec: If you don't sign a pick, you lose his cap value. You can't not sign 1st-rder & spend his $ elsewhere.

Well, that stinks. I'd wondered if teams might try some tricks to lowball certain draft picks in order to give big money to others. I'm sure the Pirates, who for several years have been thumbing their noses at Major League Baseball with their draft behavior, would have been among the first to do something like that. But it looks like they can't, because MLB wants to control the whole process. If this does in fact turn out to be the rule, it also appears that it would be pretty much impossible to sign a late-round pick for more than $100,000 (at which point any expenditures above $100,000 start counting against the team's pool allotment). That means that if a high school player has any kind of college commitment, you'd better pick him in the first 10 rounds, or else he's pretty much guaranteed to go to college.

Callis also writes that the pool for the first 10 rounds is actually around $180 million, rather than $200 million.

UPDATE 12:46 PM: Yeah, Jonathan Mayo confirms this.

If a Club does not sign a pick, its signing bonus pool is reduced by the amount of the pick. So, for example, if a Club does not sign its first round pick, and its first round pick had a slot of $1.5 million, the Club’s signing bonus pool would be reduced by $1.5.

Mayo also says the total pool for the first 10 rounds will be $185 million.

As pskell02 points out in the comments, this essentially renders the "pool" idea meaningless. What we have here is a cap on each pick. Bust slot for any pick, and you get a penalty. If your "pool" is $7.2 million and you don't sign your first-round pick for $2.9 million, your "pool" doesn't matter. If you break the recommended value for any other pick, you'll still be penalized, because the $2.9 million for the first-round pick will be deducted from your pool.

UPDATE 5:38 PM: What's still not clear here is whether it's possible to sign players for less than MLB's recommended maximum, then use the leftover funds on other players. If it's still possible to do that, then it isn't really a slotting system. Of course, the players would then have the additional leverage of knowing that the team drafting them won't be able to use any of the recommended maximum for their pick if they don't sign, which could lead to some really weird stare-downs in negotiations where a team is essentially saying, 'You're not worth the pick at which you were drafted,' and the player saying, 'Yes I am, and give me an extra hundred thousand bucks, because if you don't, good luck trying to sign that pitcher you really like from the fifth round.' It sounds like a non-sequitur to me, but if teams are allowed to use leftover funds but can't use any allotted funds for unsigned picks, that's basically what it amounts to.