Current CBA Draft Spending Trends

After three drafts under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, spending patterns within the confines of the new draft system are emerging while major league payroll rises.

Bonus pool allotments that trigger steep penalties if surpassed, the loss of future picks, and the reduction in compensation picks have eliminated teams’ ability to spend freely as they desire. Although teams are flush with money, their avenues for spending that money on amateur talent has been put into silos and capped.

Organizations that have bolstered their teams through high-profile free agent acquisitions have been severely limited in the current draft system and the only way to have money to spend on amateur talent is to lose at the major league level, where the free agent cost of a win has never been higher.

Below is a chart detailing teams’ spending under the current CBA (2012-2014) through their draft bonus pool allotments and MLB payrolls, courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Note: the draft spending listed is not total dollars spent but bonus pool spending. In 2014, bonus pool spending accounted for 88.9 percent of draft spending. Teams’ cumulative draft spending is on the Y axis (vertical) while total major league payroll is on the X axis (horizontal).

2012-2014_Final copyThe chart showcases a few clusters, as well as a few outliers. The only three teams that have picked in the top six in all three drafts (Houston, Minnesota and the Chicago Cubs) form a grouping of top draft spenders as the only teams to exceed $25 million. The Cubs ($28.14 million) have spent more than any team in the last three years and were the highest spenders in the 2013 draft ($11.07 million). This upper 10th percentile has accounted for 14.3 percent of all spending.

The next vertical grouping (Miami, Colorado, Kansas City, San Diego and Seattle) and St. Louis (which has a greater payroll than the aforementioned clubs) have all benefitted from extra picks through the Competitive Balance Lottery. All but two of these (St. Louis and San Diego, which has one top-10 pick and selected No. 13 the two other drafts) have had multiple picks in the top 10. St. Louis is one of four teams that has spent above its bonus pool allotment and paid the 75 percent tax in each of the three drafts. Of the four clubs, St. Louis has spent the second-most above its slot at nearly $1 million ($956,390).

There is another cluster below that with nearly a dozen teams who fall into the middle to lower end of both measures.

The remaining 10 teams are scattered around the lower right quadrant and represent the nine highest payrolls over this three-year period and the 15th-largest (Atlanta).

Boston, which spent more in the draft than any of the other top 10 payroll clubs, has easily spent the most on the draft of this group and has spent the 12th most overall. Boston possessed two first-round picks in 2014, a top 10 pick in 2013 (No. 7 Trey Ball) and a pair of supplemental first-round picks in 2012 (Brian Johnson and Pat Light).

On the other end of the spectrum, the Angels drafted in the first round for the first time under the new CBA this season, and didn’t even have their second-round pick in 2012. The Angels have spent slightly less than $10 million ($9,999,000), the lowest among all teams by more than 1.5 million.

Below is the numerical version of the graph shown above, displaying yearly spending. Over this time the ratio of dollars spent on major league payroll to draft bonus pool spending is $16.52: 1. The smallest ratio is the Astros at 5.04, the only team below 8.16. The Astros’ combined draft spending ($27.25 million) is larger than its 2013 payroll ($26.11 million). It would take the Angels nearly 42 drafts spending at the same rate ($3.33 million annually) to equal their lowest payroll during the stretch ($137,271,250 in 2013).

Four others have a ratio of less than 10:1. All but one (Minnesota: 9.80) are in the bottom 11 in payroll and three of the four (Miami: 8.16, San Diego: 9.45, Pittsburgh: 9.71) are in the bottom six in payroll.

Conversely, the Angels have spent $44.32 dollars on the major league payroll for every dollar spent on the draft, the highest ratio of any team and more than two and a half times the average. The second-highest ratio is the Yankees at 41.93. Those two were the only above 40, as the next highest (Dodgers: 34.44) was significantly less.

The Astros had the highest ratio at 5.04 without signing No.1 overall pick Brady Aiken. Houston’s bonus spending on the 2014 draft was $5.09 million, which was $8.27 million below its original slot value that was lost without signing Aiken and fifth-rounder Jacob Nix. Had the Astros signed the players and matched their original slot value, their total draft spending would have jumped to $35.52. This would have brought their ratio to 3.87.

The chart at the bottom of the shows where the Astros would have placed on the 2012-2014 chart if they had reached their bonus pool allotment earlier this month. Their place on the chart truly represents an outlier.

The Cubs have exceeded their bonus pool in every draft and have had the largest overages ($1.30 million). The Cardinals finished had the second highest total, followed by the Dodgers ($652,800) and Giants ($569,300).

Twelve teams have never surpassed their bonus pool threshold and the vast majority of these teams receive revenue sharing money.

Team 2012 (P) 2013 (P) 2014 (P) 3 Yr. Total Rank 2012 (DS) 2013 (DS) 2014 (DS) 3 Yr. Total Rank Ratio Rank
ARI 75,417,833 86,300,500 112,315,500 274,033,833 18 3,704,800 7,121,600 7,205,900 18,032,300 20 15.20 17
ATL 93,529,667 90,039,583 112,008,731 295,577,981 15 4,007,000 4,730,500 4,487,800 13,225,300 27 22.35 22
BAL 84,102,333 92,238,333 107,466,653 283,807,319 17 6,564,700 6,345,000 2,273,100 15,182,800 25 12.62 13
BOS 175,249,119 154,555,500 156,350,125 486,154,744 4 7,167,000 6,239,900 6,559,300 19,966,200 12 24.35 23
CHC 109,316,000 106,837,810 92,677,368 308,831,178 13 8,307,700 11,068,400 8,764,000 28,140,100 1 10.97 9
CHW 97,669,500 118,914,500 90,062,659 306,646,659 14 5,915,100 5,278,800 9,984,600 21,178,500 11 14.48 15
CIN 87,826,167 106,855,533 114,170,439 308,852,139 12 6,561,400 5,980,800 6,958,400 19,500,600 14 15.84 19
CLE 65,430,300 80,605,733 84,445,900 230,481,933 24 4,387,500 5,918,600 8,355,300 18,661,400 15 12.35 11
COL 81,135,571 73,949,071 93,581,071 248,665,713 22 6,406,700 9,758,700 8,216,300 24,381,700 4 10.20 6
DET 133,475,000 148,693,600 163,635,500 445,804,100 5 2,099,300 6,150,600 4,782,800 13,032,700 28 34.21 27
HOU 60,799,000 26,105,600 50,485,800 137,390,400 30 11,335,200 10,821,500 5,090,500 27,247,200 3 5.04 1
KC 64,001,725 81,871,725 92,185,521 238,058,971 23 6,250,000 8,369,400 8,561,700 23,181,100 7 10.27 7
LAA 151,381,000 137,271,250 154,546,500 443,198,750 6 1,598,800 2,626,200 5,774,000 9,999,000 30 44.32 30
LAD 105,419,833 216,753,286 229,335,934 551,509,053 2 5,401,300 5,465,100 5,148,600 16,015,000 23 34.44 28
MIA 101,628,000 50,526,900 45,825,400 197,980,300 27 4,860,700 7,106,000 12,293,400 24,260,100 5 8.16 2
MIL 98,150,833 88,828,333 103,397,967 290,377,133 16 6,759,100 3,880,300 7,604,100 18,243,500 19 15.92 20
MIN 100,435,000 82,010,000 85,465,000 267,910,000 20 11,938,900 8,079,400 7,305,600 27,323,900 2 9.80 5
NYM 94,508,822 93,684,590 84,951,365 273,144,777 19 6,285,400 6,907,400 5,290,800 18,483,600 17 14.78 16
NYY 209,792,900 228,106,125 197,230,609 635,129,634 1 3,785,900 8,071,400 3,290,200 15,147,500 26 41.93 29
OAK 52,873,000 61,964,500 82,320,900 197,158,400 28 7,875,600 5,894,100 4,775,000 18,544,700 16 10.63 8
PHI 172,093,902 159,585,714 177,729,967 509,409,583 3 4,198,800 5,567,400 6,785,300 16,551,500 21 30.78 26
PIT 51,932,333 66,805,000 71,929,333 190,666,666 29 3,234,200 8,982,400 7,412,400 19,629,000 13 9.71 4
SD 55,621,900 68,333,600 90,636,600 214,592,100 25 9,813,000 6,801,000 6,098,600 22,712,600 8 9.45 3
SEA 84,928,100 84,199,643 90,239,643 259,367,386 21 8,120,200 6,426,700 7,085,000 21,631,900 9 11.99 10
SFG 131,355,298 136,908,777 149,089,475 417,353,550 7 4,130,500 4,938,800 6,238,400 15,307,700 24 27.26 24
STL 111,858,500 116,790,787 111,250,000 339,899,287 11 9,443,990 7,232,400 6,901,800 23,578,190 6 14.42 14
TB 63,627,200 61,928,975 76,872,384 202,428,559 26 3,821,800 6,337,500 6,138,319 16,297,619 22 12.42 12
TEX 120,836,000 125,340,100 133,525,939 379,702,039 8 6,484,400 6,781,500 5,047,200 18,313,100 18 20.73 21
TOR 83,739,200 119,277,800 137,177,700 340,194,700 10 9,272,000 3,053,280 9,194,700 21,519,980 10 15.81 18
WAS 92,534,929 118,289,679 136,856,579 347,681,187 9 4,548,500 2,682,200 4,349,100 11,579,800 29 30.02 25
Total 3,010,668,965 3,091,334,214 3,427,766,562 9,529,769,741 184,279,490 194,616,880 197,972,219 576,868,589 16.52

2007-2011_USE_THIS copyLet’s look back at the previous CBA (2007-2011) and see how teams fared by the same metrics. The chart has a more clearly defined structure and few clusters, with the majority of teams falling along two plots.

Pittsburgh and Washington represent the two highest draft spenders—the Pirates first at $52 million and Washington second at $51 million—and both resided in the lower quartile of payrolls. Pittsburgh ranked 29th in payroll and Washington ranked 26th. Kansas City, although further down the chart, fit this same description with the third-highest draft spending and 25th largest payroll.

Boston stands alone in the upper right quadrant as a high-payroll club who invested in the draft. The Red Sox had the second-highest payroll and spent the fourth most on the draft.

The Yankees also spent the 11th most money on the draft but were in a class by themselves in terms of payroll at $1.02 billion. The payroll gap from New York to Boston ($290 million) was larger than five team’s payrolls.

The White Sox spent less than any team in the draft under the previous CBA but have moved from 30th in draft spending to 11th under the current CBA after picking third in 2014 and consecutive drafts with a pick in the teens in 2013 (No. 17 Tim Anderson) and 2012 (No. 13 Courtney Hawkins).

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Draft | #2014 draft

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