I read an interesting article today from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports re: the bonus slotting issue that is being debated for the next CBA.
Here’s what seems to be the most important point of argument:
Somewhere in the middle sit the players, the MLBPA’s truest voices and, in all likelihood, the ultimate arbiters of the draft slotting debate. Former union chief Don Fehr called this a “wedge issue” for good reason. While the Washington Nationals gave Stephen Strasburg(notes) $15.1 million and Bryce Harper(notes) $9.9 million as the No. 1 overall picks, veterans went unsigned or fetched less than anticipated. It sent a bad message: Big money, previously the domain of union members on 40-man rosters, instead was going to unproven kids.
At the same time, the union is certain its players will overlook the big dollar values at the top for the empirical fear: Any sort of a cap on salaries, even for amateur players, opens the Pandora’s box for MLB to suggest one in other facets of the game.
There’s also the signability issue, which is something teams like Tampa Bay and Kansas City and Pittsburgh, who don’t have a large big-league budget but keep hoarding money to get the best prospects in the draft, have to deal with (sorry for the Yellonesque sentence). The signability thing is also suggested to be one of the reasons the Cubs took Hayden Simpson in the first round when they could have had a real first-rounder.
The increase in bonuses has scared teams away from the best available player and allowed superior talent to slip because of signability concerns, a problem for a draft supposedly designed to distribute talent evenly. It’s also something agents do not believe slotting would solve.
I don’t know the Cubs’ financials but it would seem stupid not to have a bunch of money to throw at the draft this year, especially if it is so deep. As fearless leader mb21 has laid out, the Cubs are projected to take Bubba Starling with their #9 pick this June, and will probably have to give him a heap of bonus money (a la Samardzija/Szczur) to keep him from playing college football. The Cubs also have a bunch of money coming off the books as they don’t have to pay Fail Whale or Grabow anymore, they probably won’t re-sign Fukudome, half of Carlos Pena’s contract is done, and they’ll likely buy out Aramis Ramirez if he is in fact D-O-N-E. That really depends on whether they throw an armored truck full of cash at Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, but they’ve gotta have some money left to make a top pick think it’s worth their while to become a Cub.
The article was mainly about the fight between MLB and the players’ union and sports agents over the limiting of bonuses, but the above are just my thoughts relating to the Cubs after reading said article. It sounds like they won’t put limits on bonuses and won’t do any hard slots as that entails a slippery slope that would lead to a salary cap of sorts, and nobody in baseball seems to want that. If there are no limits, then the Cubs as an alleged large-market team has to be willing to spend.