Dropping the GCL – Mets In Line with Baseball Norms

Just the numbers here, regarding the Mets dropping their Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2012.  Barring any other MLB teams adding or dropping short season or international affiliates for 2012, the Mets will be right in line with baseball norms.

The Mets will send players to eight total affiliates: four full-season teams at AAA, AA, A+, A, two domestic short-season teams: short-season A Brooklyn and rookie level Kingsport and two international teams, both in the Dominican Summer League.

Of the 30 MLB teams, 16 will have seven total affiliates, 12 will have eight, and just two will have nine, as the Mets did in 2011.  The remaining nine-ball players: Tampa Bay and Seattle, both of whom have seven domestic teams and two international teams.  The Mets will be one of 23 teams with six domestic affiliates compared with seven who still have seven, which essentially means three short-season teams.

What we’re seeing is a coalescence around two short-season teams. By rule, all MLB teams must have four full-season teams, one each at the triple-A, double-A, advanced-A and low-A level. While top prospects drafted out of college routinely skip low-A, very, very few players skip advanced A. So essentially, teams are using three affiliates (rookie- Kingsport, short-season-A – Brooklyn, low-A – Savannah) to feed their three upper level affiliates and the big league team.

I wonder too, whether the new CBA has influenced the decision to cut back on an affiliate. Remember, the new CBA will dramatically lessen the ability of all teams, including the Mets, to spend on amateur talent. There are separate spending caps on both the draft AND in the international market. Perhaps the Mets felt it was more important to spend on the top of the market rather than on the guys who would be roster-filler in the GCL, Kingsport and Brooklyn.

Internationally, will the Mets spend more money on fewer players? Or will they avoid the top of the market to try to spread their allocation across more players? If they choose the former, perhaps cutting an affiliate makes sense.

How does this square with Sandy Alderson’s comments that “The bang for the buck is in player development and I think that’s something that ownership realizes”?  Maybe the Gulf Coast League just wasn’t providing much value.  As cheap as it is to run a complex league team, that’s hard to fathom, but maybe there is data to support this assertion.  Or maybe the Mets really, really needed to save $800,000.

Full number of affiliates by team after the jump.

Kevin Goldstein of BP basically told Matt Cerrone the same thing I’m saying here: that it’s not a good thing, but it’s not a huge deal.

Team Domestic International Total
AZ 7 1 8
ATL 6 1 7
CHC 6 2 8
CIN 6 2 8
COL 6 1 7
FLA 6 1 7
HOU 7 1 8
LAD 6 1 7
MIL 6 1 7
NYM 6 2 8
PHI 6 2 8
PIT 6 2 8
SD 6 1 7
SF 6 1 7
STL 7 1 8
WAS 6 1 7
BAL 6 1 7
BOS 6 1 7
CHW 6 1 7
CLE 6 1 7
DET 6 2 8
KC 7 1 8
LAA 6 1 7
MIN 6 1 7
NYY 6 2 8
OAK 6 1 7
SEA 7 2 9
TB 7 2 9
TEX 6 1 7
TOR 7 1 8
Domestic Affiliates Total Affiliates
# of 6: 23 # of 7 16
#of 7: 7 # of 8 12
# of 9 2

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