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View Full Version : Player Development: International vs. MLB Draft



jmcclain19
10-14-2006, 02:31 AM
I was reading a Baseball America/ESPN chat this afternoon, and came across this point made by BA writer John Manuel (bolded)

Tom (Boston): Are the signing bonuses on the international market equivalent to the signing bonuses in the draft? i.e. if players like Beltre, Tejada, or villalona were draft elligable, would they have gotten drafted in places where slot money is what they signed for?

John Manuel: Great question, and not really equivalent at all. The money involved in signing amateur players, internationally and in the draft, is so f.u.b.a.r. right now I don't even know where to start. Top international players can create bidding wars, with more than one team offering them contracts, which top guys can't do. But you're talking about a 16-year-old in most cases, and it's harder to know which ones will turn into Jackson Melian (remember him? Venezuelan OF who got $1.6 million in '96 from the Yankees?) and who will be Francisco Liriano. But here's a stat an international scout sent me that I am trying to write a story around (if I ever find the time . . . ): about 870 players signed in this year's draft for roughly $150 million. About 880 players signed internationally this year, for roughly $35 million. Advantage, international. You aren't bidding against Stanford, Ga. Tech, etc., for those players' services, or against real jobs. It's just apples and oranges to compare the players, but for the clubs, it's clearly a more efficent place to find players, on the international market.

I wonder how true this quote is? I also wonder if any team has taken the time to break this down. Given the huge disparity involved in those shear numbers it is a simple no brainer that low budget teams like the Reds should be pouring money into signing International players. Although I know that the Draft numbers are largely skewed by the top heavy first several rounds of the MLB Draft.

If the Reds spent - say - 1/30th on each pool this year - that works out to be $5mil in the draft and $1.1 mil on International signings. Would it behove the Reds to double that spending Internationally and get a higher shelf level of players? Or perhaps spend 25-30% more and sign up a higher number of players. The draft - and the development afterwards, tends to have a bit of luck and a bit of skill involved. I can't see why any team would not want to increase the odds that the luck and skill portions of getting players to the majors are increased.

An interesting topic to say the least. Any one else have some sort of outside the box thinking on this one?

mth123
10-14-2006, 09:39 AM
Not sure how outside the box this is, but the downside is with no draft there is a bidding war sometimes. Richer clubs will tend to get better more immediately ready guys it seems. At least in the draft, you aren't bidding against the Yankees and Angels for these guys. Draft guys seem to be slotted so cost is somewhat predictable. This is more true for college guys who don't have the "I'll go to school instead" negotiating leverage.

Given the inexact science of predicting prospects, signing guys on the cheap from Latin America and waiting to see what happens makes a lot of sense. That isn't new. The Reds got some Perez guy that way a long time ago. IMO if teams begin "pouring money" into international signings, the figures will eventually even out. As more teams become aware of all of these players, the bidding wars will go deeper into the talent pool instead of for just the top guys.

I also wonder if cultural differences would make the rate of washouts higher with the foreign players. Given the high % of foreign players, it hasn't seemed to.

Law differences may be responsible for what seems like (I haven't seen any stats or anything) more 'roid cases from the Latin Americas. With prospects this could lead to potentially 'roid created mirages.

Then there is that whole "how old are you really and what is your real name?" problem.

Ravenlord
10-14-2006, 09:33 PM
Law differences may be responsible for what seems like (I haven't seen any stats or anything) more 'roid cases from the Latin Americas. With prospects this could lead to potentially 'roid created mirages.i think MLB could easily solve that problem by requiring all players to pass a drug test before entering the country. i don't think the player's native land would be able to argue against it.

mth123
10-14-2006, 09:51 PM
i think MLB could easily solve that problem by requiring all players to pass a drug test before entering the country. i don't think the player's native land would be able to argue against it.

Yeah probably. There needs to be a way for teams to recover money spent on guys in this situation. I was more thinking of the $ aspects. Its a lot cheaper now down there and when a guy fails teams aren't out much. As the $ increase this becomes a serious issue. Do you spend time and money developing a guy for a couple years down there only to find he is a 'roid created mirage in the states?

I'm not an expert on Steroids and I don't even know if everything can be tested for. Maybe its a non-issue. Trying to think of other outside the box aspects as the original post requested.

TOBTTReds
10-25-2006, 12:10 PM
How about every player has to go through the draft, like the NBA? Or have a seperate international draft.

oneupper
10-25-2006, 06:43 PM
How about every player has to go through the draft, like the NBA? Or have a seperate international draft.

I'd vote for that. However, you have to account for local laws and teams also.
Japanese teams have rights to their players (don't exactly know what their CBA is...but).
Even Winter League teams (Venezuela, DomRep, PR...Mexico is a different animal) maintain rights to players THEY sign for winter league play.

I'm sure that could be worked out/around.

An international draft would also allow Cuban player to defect to the US directly instead of going to Costa Rica or elsewhere to become FAs.

jmcclain19
10-30-2006, 05:01 PM
How about every player has to go through the draft, like the NBA? Or have a seperate international draft.

I posted this last year - an article from two years ago - it's a pretty good summary of why an International Draft will never happen, it's an absolute logistical nightmare.

MLB, the owners & the Players Union looked into it, and everyone pretty much said - thanks but no thanks.

http://www.redszone.com/forums/showpost.php?p=776050&postcount=11