Analysis of the 2009 Draft Bonuses

Yesterday, Baseball America posted their list of Major League teams ranked by the total amount paid to the team’s picks in the first 10 rounds.  The Mets placed 30th, dead last.  Matt Cerrone posted about this subject at metsblog as well.

What should fans make of the Mets seemingly pathetic last place ranking in draft spending?  Is is primarily due to the fact that 1. the Mets did not have a pick before #72 (losing their first rounder to the Angels for signing K-Rod, missing out on most of the the truly elite and expensive talents) or 2. the team follows a conservative drafting philosophy which stays close to the commissioner’s recommended slot for each pick?  Actually, a lot of both.  The Mets missing first rounder, and lack of compensation picks does not justify the team’s frugal draft performance, but accounting for the missing selections is crucial in putting the team’s work in proper perspective.

The table breaks down the Mets and the 29 other MLB teams’ draft signings ranked by total expenditure in rounds 2-10.


A few notes:

1. the Pirates were widely criticized at draft time for eschewing high ceiling and high bonus demand players in the first round in favor of BC catcher Tony Sanchez at #4.  The Pirates’ theory was that the players in the top of half of the first round, all of whom carried their own risks, did not justify such high bonuses and that there were other players who were more worthwhile risks outside the first round.   Give Pittsburgh credit in carrying out their strategy, as the Pirates led all MLB teams in bonuses paid ($4,864,900) in rounds 2-10.  Also, the 21-year-old Sanchez is hitting .360/.460/.605 in 29 games with the West Virginia Power in the SAL.

2. The Braves spent $2.42 million on first rounder Mike Minor from Vanderbilt, but were 30th among the MLB teams in draft spending in rounds 2-10, handing out just $1.294 million in bonuses to their seven signees.

3. The Red Sox spent the 2nd most behind the Pirates in rounds 2-10, with a total of $4.577,  signing all ten of their picks over this range, buttressing the Sox reputation as a big market team which shrewdly leverages their financial strength in the amateur draft.

4. The Mets were 22nd in total spending in rounds 2-10, forking out only $1,864,300.  That’s clearly below average ($2.58 mil) and median ($2.35), but is no longer dead last.  Hey, Mets fans, it’s like the NL East, where the Nationals bring up the rear: “Hey, at least we’re not last” can be 2009’s official rallying call.   Every team below the Mets in total expenditures in rounds 2-10 spent at least 1.7 million before the Mets first choice at #72.

5. Both the Diamondbacks (1,1S,1S,1S,2) and Angels (1,1,1S,1S,1S) selected five players before the Mets drafted one.

6. The Mets are one of just six teams to sign just seven of their picks from rounds 2-10.

7. When you adjust for cost/signing, the Mets move up to the middle of the pack, #17, spending an average of $266,329 for each of their seven picks signed through the tenth round.  However, the Mets are tied with five other teams for the fewest picks signed in rounds 2-10.  Overall, only three teams, the Mets, Rays and Rangers signed as few as seven of their picks in rounds 1-10.

Where’s the Money?

In terms of the quality (by missing out on the first round) and quantity, the Mets were among the bottom teams in Major League Baseball at adding talent through the amateur draft in June 2009.  The Mets had the same opportunities as other teams to flex their economic muscle to bring in high-reward types outside of the first round, to make up for the missing first rounder, but declined to use their financial clout, again.

Tuesday night, the always entertaining Keith Law of ESPN tweeted “Told wife the #Mets had the smallest draft budget this year. Her explanation: “Well probably they just didn’t need good players.”

Snark aside, Tuesday, Mets Scouting Director Rudy Terrasas told Mets Minor League Blog regarding sixth round pick David Buchanan, who did not sign with the team, “sometimes negotiations take a turn for the worse, and we just couldn’t meet his demands.”  How much money was the team short?  Two-hundred grand?  Three?  Four?  Five?

In this context, perhaps Mets fans should be asking their front office why the team would pay Tim Redding, who is 1-4 with a 6.42 ERA in 68.2 IP with a 0.1 WAR, $2.25 million dollars for 2009, while spending less than that on an entire draft class?

Note: Although it’s not illustrated in the table above, draft bonuses for the supplemental first rounds were removed to calculate total bonuses for rounds 2-10.  I’m having trouble formatting tables.  I have the original excel available.  If you are interested in extending or critiquing this analysis, email me here.

There are 24 comments

  1. MrMustSeeTv


    I agree with the skepticism regarding the Mets’ excuses. I’ve been saying it for years. This team is like a college kid with a brand new credit card, who spends irresponsibly on stuff he doesn’t need and then has no money when he needs something for real.

    The Mets have spend years overpaying the likes of Marlon Anderson, Julio Franco, Fernando Tatis, Tim Redding, Scott Schoeneweis, Guillermo Mota, etc. Players that didn’t deserve the size ($) or length of their contracts and who should have been signed cheaper because they were equivalent players who signed for less elsewhere.

    If you’re sticking to a budget, then don’t sign Marlon Anderson or Alex Cora for $1-$2M and invest that money in the draft. With that kind of investment you could land 2-3 good prospects.

    Spending money doesn’t guarantee a strong farm system, but it does allow a team’s scouting department to make mistakes. If the Mets signed Matz, Magnifico, Buchanan and Dotson, they’d have 4 chances to develop a solid major league. Without Magnifico and Buchanon, the Mets now rest their pitching hopes in this draft on 2 players. It makes the scouts and coaches have to be more perfect.

    The Mets also rely too much on this notion that they get value from the international market. Well, since the signing of F-Mart and Deolis Guerra the Mets haven’t made a huge impact ($ wise) there either. Sure they signed Mejia, Familia, Wilmer, Puello and Marte for minimum dollars, but that’s the thing with this team. They always look for the cheap alternatives. And before fans go off on a “well that shows you don’t need to spend alot of money” let me tell that if you looked at other far systems you’d find similar players or better that teams have mined from the international scene. Those that are better have spent more.

    I just don’t get this team. I mean I’m even starting to think this team needs to fire Jay Horowitz because any good PR guy would tell his boss, “Hey, dude, the media and fans say you’re cheap. That you are broke due to the Madoff scandal. It’s bad for PR and business. You might want to spend more money on the draft just to shut these people up.” But no. They go cheap and now this is a story fans can jump on in an otherwise frustrating season.

    1. big baby

      you’re criticizing the mets for getting great talents from latin america without spending a ton of money?

      think about how stupid what you just said sounds. that’s arguably the dumbest things i’ve ever heard.

      1. mark4212

        No what he was saying is they haven’t spent a Huge amount of money Internationally when they could have spent even more to land even more talent. Basically he’s saying while they have made splashed with F-mart and the others listed they could have taken another 5-10 million the last 5 years and had another 10-20 more players from the latin countries. Instead they keep it in their pocket and sign 3 or 4.

        IDK if i agree with him or not but that’s more along the lines of what i think he meant.

        But through out his post he was making the point that the mets are content to be middle of the road with the way they treat their farm system. They don’t spend enough, then they rely on the IFA’s and then don’t spend enough there.

      2. MrMustSeeTv

        Now, stop being a j*ckas and learn to critique someone more seriously. There, I kept it civil for you.

    2. MrMustSeeTv

      Geez, big baby, settle down there and let’s keep it civil.

      The point I was making is the Mets will point to players like Mejia, Familiar, Marte, etc. and use them as example of how a team doesn’t need to spend money to obtain good talent. That may be partly true, but good team find those inexpensive gems while also investing heavily on other IFA players. The Mets were big players 4 years ago when they signed F-Mart and Deolis. Since then they’ve targeted one player but not several and definitely none of the big names that others are in on. I’m not saying they should spend $4M on a 16 year old, but they could easily have spent $2-3M on a several of the prime IFA prospects that signed in the $300-$500 range. Again, not a perfect science, but the Mets just seem content on not investing heavily and hoping their scouts hit a home run each time they scout an inexpensive player.

      The Mets are content on being okay in one area when they should be aggressive and diversify in many areas of amateur scouting.

      1) I really like what the Pirates did this year and am interested in seeing how it works out. They went inexpensive in the 1st round but invested the money saved in rounds 2-10 where they could get better value. I like that approach in the draft.

      2) I commend the Mets for getting the likes of Mejia and other on the cheap, but one does not create a fordmidable farm system like that. It’s a combination of a number of things.

      Like I said before, money doesn’t guarantee a top notch farm system but it allows you to make more mistakes in scouting. All your egss aren’t in one player.

      Now, let’s keep this civil and productive.

      1. mark4212

        Much better then my quick and dirty response to him.

        I agree with you about the pirates. I want to see if it turns out well for them also.

        I also agree with you the mets are content being a middle of the road farm team. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because they have found Gems in the past and think they can do it forever. Not sure. I’d rather them have a plethora of high talent then a bakers dozen. It also gives you the ability to trade away talent and still have talent.

      2. big baby

        latin america is filled with unknowns who barely play in organized games. considering the talent omar has managed to get from there, criticizing him for not wantonly throwing money around is stupid.

        there is nothing to say the high priced FAs are worth it. this isn’t the draft, with college players who are incredibly well scouted and seen in games repeatedly.

        these are 16 year old kids with shady ass buscones. some of these kids are signed without having been seen playing actual games.

        you have no idea what you’re talking about. omar is getting high quality talent from there. you have no basis for complaints.

      3. MrMustSeeTv

        Geez, big baby you certainly live up to your moniker. I’m starting to think you’re Tony Bernazard.

        You’re right. Spending $2M on one player does not equal success, but like I said it’s not meant as a silver bullet answer. The first thing is spend money. The next step is spending it wisely.

        The undeniable fact is the Mets don’t spend as much money as other teams on the draft or the IFA market. This means then need to be near perfect in their scouting which they are not – no team is.

        I’d be curious to know how much money they spent on international scouting and IFAs as opposed to other teams.

        Now, let’s tackle your eloquent critique:

        “you have no idea what you’re talking about. omar is getting high quality talent from there. you have no basis for complaints.”

        1) I never said I had an idea or that I’m an expert. I’m not a journalist, scout or exec. All I am is an observationalist and sometimes blogger. But if I have no idea, what does that make you? Clueless?

        2) You attack me for not knowing what I’m talking about and then you go and give Omar credit for “getting high quality talent”. Omar is not responsible for the draft or international scouting. He doesn’t scout amatuers or sign them. SO THAT’S HOW MUCH YOU KNOW.

        What Omar does is hire the people that do that, who at times do a poor job. He also allocates the resources given to him ($) to sign these players (where he does a poor job of wasting nearly $2M on a Redding rather than on the draft).

        3) As for me having “no basis to for complaints.” Says who? Last I checked I paid money to go to games, buy jerseys and hats, watch games on TV that have advertising that the Wilpons benefit from. I’m a consumer and when the consumer is not happy he or she has a right to complain. It’s called capitalism/commercialism.

        I think I’ve been fair in my critiques. i haven’t taken a cheap shot at Omar, the Wilpons or you. I’ve stated my case.

      4. big baby

        oh my goodness, are we really going to split hairs on saying omar, or omar and the front office he employs?

        and considering omar was in fernando’s kitchen and knew him since he was a little boy, is it out of the question to somehow give omar credit.

        the reason the mets didn’t spend on the draft has nothing to do with tim redding. the wilpons are buddy buddy with selig, and are on record as hating overslot/supporting the slot system. they do not let omar go overslot often. it has nothing to do with the money tim redding got, or cory sullivan, or alex cora.

  2. theperfectgame

    Attack of the right sidebar!!! I pasted the data into Excel, and there’s something fishy going on with the numbers (I think it has to do primarily with how Comp rounds are handled). Thanks for posting this, though. Good stuff.

  3. MrMustSeeTv

    Also, the Mets showed they had no backbone and were going to play this draft conservative and cheap the minute they didn’t draft Stassi in the 3rd round. He signed for $1.5M after being drafted in the 4th round by the A’s. The A’s – that big market empire of evil!

    The Mets didn’t have a 1st round pick. They should have drafted Matz in the 2nd round then Stassi in the 3rd round and treated him like a 1st round pick.

    I want to know why the Mets don’t spend money on the draft? Jeff, Omar, tell us why?

    1. Obama_MetFan

      Mr, i agree with most of the things you have said but i think that the Mets dont like to spend in the draft and international signings because they know that they dont have time to rebuildings because of the media , fans and endorsements . Cmon big baby rip me for that comment !

      1. ihob419

        I completely disagree with that assessment. The Mets receive less criticism than the Yankees and the Red Sox though beloved have a huge media and fan following that will rip them apart when need be. However, look at what these teams have done with their farm systems.


        Almost the entire bullpen is made up of kids from their farm. The Mets had Parnell. The Yankees buy the best free agents out there almost every year, meaning they lose their early round picks just as the Mets did. Yet, they still produce quality talent through IFA’s and spending above slot on the draft. Which is why I hate this oh the Wilpon’s are friends with Bud Selig. I don’t give a rat’s ass that they are friends because it is killing the organizations depth and ability to develop talent that could’ve helped the major league team this year or in years to come.

        Red Sox:

        Look at what they have been able to do by building up a very formiddable farm system. The strong farm system helps them be in the hunt every year. They have drafted well and spent on IFA’s giving them the opportunity to trade farm pieces to get vital parts to their recent championships.

        Hopefully the Mets use their protected 1st RD pick this year and get a viable piece to the puzzle in the Free Agent market (Holliday, Bay, Benji Molina, Lackey) and pick THE BEST player available regardless of what they want.

  4. theperfectgame

    It’d also be interesting to see what sum(Bonuses given out in the first 10 rounds) minus sum(Slot Guidelines for signed picks in the first 10 rounds) turned out to be. And # picks above, below, or at slot per team. Also, average bonus given out on all picks in the top 10 rounds AFTER each team’s first pick.

  5. Toby Hyde

    I deleted the column with the bonuses handed out in the supplemental first round in an effort to make the damn table fit nicely. Didn’t work… This site just doesn’t handle tables well. I’m working on it. If you want to see the original data, and knowing you, I bet you do, I can email it to you.


  6. mark4212


    This is great analysis… Makes it hard to be a mets fan… Even when you lose, you lose again at the minor league level :(.

    There was a never ending debate yesterday on MetsBlog about this very subject.

  7. NateW

    I’d be curious to know what the slop allotments were for the guys the Mets signed and didn’t sign. They seem to be claiming going over slop a couple times, Matz and Dotson, but really wouldn’t push far enough on some it seems.

    Its a shame because the return is so much better than signing replacement level players for 2-5 mil a year.

    1. Great Scott

      If the Mets had drafted Stassi and paid him 1.5 mil do you really think Matz would have signed for so little.
      Toby if you have the time a chart showing 5th & 6th round picks from the last 10 years and how many actually have successful major league careers would be interesting.
      Unless a player really does not want to go to college taking less than $ 500,000 to give up college is crazy.
      Think about it $200,000 after taxes in not that much, compared to the value of college. When you realize most kids never make the majors.

  8. blay28

    to me it seems like no matter what we did even if we signed all of our draft picks there would still be people complaining about somethin ….we def need to develop more young talent but i live in binghamton and although the record doesnt show it we have some really good lookin young guys here….its not often that a player just totally dominates in the minors and carries it every single year to the majors …most players make a name for themselves when they do get that chance and IMO atleast 1 of the players that are in BING right now will make a major impact on the NY mets at somepoint in the next few years…with the financial ability of our team we dont need to have a highly touted prospect at every position…Holt , Mejia , Ike Davis, Thole, Ruben Tejada all have a chance to be real good…and Merrit has a chance to be a very reliable lefty specialist ala pedro feliciano ….ive seen lots of players come up through the system like david wright and jose reyes and to be honest im just as excited if not more about these group of young guys as i was with those 2 …we just need to be patient and let our young guys develop and i think we’ll be callin our farm system one of the best in baseball….

    lastly i reallllly hope the mets make a strong push for this cuban defector the lefty that throws really hard cuz that dude looks legit …having him join our system could make it improve into the upper echelon alone hes gotta chance to be a all star in the majors every year ….PLEASE Omar do the smart thing and get this guy!

    1. Obama_MetFan

      About this cuban defector (i think his name is Aroldis Chapman) do you really think he is legit ? what about you guys ?

    2. mark4212

      blay that’s kind of the point. The Mets don’t need one at every position. But the fact that right now we only have 8-10 really GOOD prospects for a ball club who has the ability to spend so much money it’s a little ridiculous. The Mets were tied for the fewest number of picks in the top 10 rounds. They ended up tied for signing the fewest picks in the draft. Magnifico decided to go to college that’s FINE. But to not sign a guy over a few 100k is just a shame.

      Onto the IFA’s. How many IFA’s did the mets sign this year. I’ve heard of ONE. I heard the yankees’s in on at least 5. They only got I believe 2. But they were going for as many as they can. That’s what we are touting. Go get as many as you can. Yes we know they are 16. Yes we know most are unproven commodities. But for 2 million you get these guys for what 5 years before they have to be called up? Longer?

      You stock you system with as many guys as possible and the cream of the crop rises to the top. You shouldn’t have a AAA team full of nobody’s and never were’s. There could be a few in there, but it should be filled with able body Amateurs. The mets haven’t had that in years.

      There are many reasons why they don’t. In the last 4 years they have traded away from my count anywhere from 12-15 players. That will hurt any farm system. They also have had guys get hurt like all other farm systems. But when your not restocking with 10-20 guys with high upside every year it’s tough to keep a good farm system.

      The Yanks, Red Sox. Dodgers, Angels, Phillies are just a few off the the top of my head which have GOOD farm systems and a high MLB Payroll. The 2 don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The High MLB payroll can fill in Gaps and cover up mistakes, but eventually you will need both.

      On-to Chapman. I’d love the mets to go after him. Word is it’s going to cost at least what Strausberg just signed. And Honestly i don’t see the mets making that kind of commitment.

  9. Grendal

    I can’t believe the stuff I read here. The Mets don’t spend on talent because they don’t want to spend the money. Period. It’s always about money. Nothing else matters.
    The Mets didn’t invest in their minor league teams and they are awful. They have a few guys with some talent, but nothing compared to most other teams. Look at their minor league teams records.

    1. Obama_MetFan

      Im sorry Grendal but the records in minor leagues dont mean anything because the minors are for development if you win good but you cant jeopardyze the growth of the players , lets say you have to give an inning or 30 pitches to a reliever and you bring him in the 8th and he gets in trouble but he has made just 17 pitches you cant take him out and as result you lose the game , thats why i think that the record in the minors dont count , just my humble opinion !

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