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.