Cutting Back on Signing Bonuses
MLB may not be hurt as badly as some other industries -- cough, automakers, cough -- during the economic recession, but that isn't stopping Commissioner Bud Selig from making moves aimed at decreasing the economic blow that comes from signing top prospects.
Naturally, Selig can do little to limit teams from exceeding the slotted values of picks, but there's reason to believe that teams really do try to stay within the boundary of the prescribed payments nonetheless. Add to that this excerpt from Chass's piece, and it makes one wonder about the extent of Selig's influence.
Clubs enrage Selig when they exceed their slotted numbers, and he lets them know his feelings.
Hmmm. Interesting. In truth, Selig and the league office have levied fines to teams that pay above their prescribed slotting price in the past, though that has reportedly only come because they didn't follow "proper protocol" for paying above the designated slotted value.
Regardless, the move to limit signing bonuses also makes one wonder how much harder it might be for a team with high picks, maybe even a couple (hey hey Nats fans), to sign those selections. Everyone knows that getting Stephen Strasburg to sign a contract is going to be a challenge. One of the things the Nats could have tried to cajole the expected future ace into signing for something less than A.J. Burnett money (the value that Strasburg's advisor and future agent, Scott Boras, has put on the fireballer) was a massive signing bonus. Now, trying that method will earn the Nationals dirty looks from other teams and, potentially, the Commish himself (is there a more distopic mental image than crossing Bud Selig with Michael Chiklis? I'm not sure there is).
Will any of this affect the players teams select in the June 9 draft? Probably not, but it is a possibility. And when you consider the fact that the slotting system was designed to avoid exactly that scenario, it all seems a curious development, even though it's a move Selig clearly made with the best financial interests of teams in mind.
What do people think? How will a reduction on signing bonuses help or hurt teams with a bid stake in forthcoming draft? What will it do to the Nationals' plans?
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