With the news yesterday that California prep righthander Lucas Giolito will be sidelined at minimum six weeks with an elbow sprain, the attention quickly turned to what will happen to him come draft day. There's no way to know in March what will happen in June for any player, let alone a wild card like Giolito. This is especially true with the draft changes from the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new draft rules make it tougher for teams to throw money at players who fall in the draft, so the farther the Harvard-Westlake High senior falls in the draft, the more likely it is that he winds up going to school. However, some teams are simply better suited to pursue such a player. But before we start talking about potential fits, let's make a couple of assumptions . . .
1. Giolito's price won't drop significantly. He was probably looking at a $5-6 million payday had he not gotten injured and while his number may have to come down a little, he still has plenty of leverage. For one, Giolito got rave reviews this summer, fall and early this spring. When healthy, he has a mid-90s fastball that touched 100 mph, a nasty curveball and a very good changeup. He also comes from a financially-stable family, has a great fallback plan at UCLA and is young for the class. Still, let's assume he wouldn't walk away from what Dylan Bundy got last year—$4 million. (It's important to note here Bundy got that bonus as part of a $6.25 million major league deal, which are now precluded by the CBA for draft picks.)
2. The team that picks him also will have to take two easily signable players in the top 10 rounds to allow for more financial flexibility. This will especially be the case if he slips out of the top five picks. Let's say these two players' combined bonuses add up to $150,000. With those assumptions out of the way, here are the revised draft pools to show each team's chances of taking a shot at Giolito later in the draft. The pools are adjusted to show three fewer picks (Giolito and the two signable players) and $4,150,000 less money.
|TEAM||PICKS||BONUS POOL||POOL – 4.15MM||AVG. FOR REMAINING PICKS|
To put those numbers in perspective, even after factoring in a $4 million purchase for each team, nine of the teams would still have more money per pick for players in rounds 2-10 than they spent last year. Giolito seems like an unlikely fit for some of the teams with the lower bonus pools such as the Marlins, Phillies, Indians, Nationals, Yankees, Giants, Braves, Rays, Diamondbacks, Tigers and Angels. However, his injury could be a blessing in disguise for the Cubs, who pick sixth; the Padres, picking seventh; or the Pirates at eight. Those teams were aggressive in the draft last year and now have a shot at getting a player they could only dream of getting last week.
The Cubs' new president, Theo Epstein, saw his team take advantage of an injured player falling in the draft two years ago when the Red Sox were able to land Anthony Ranaudo 39th overall after he entered the season as the No. 2 prospect behind Bryce Harper. The Pirates have spent the most on the draft of any team over the last three years, and the Padres spent the eighth-most in the draft last year, highlighted by the $3 million bonus the team gave catcher (and UCLA commit) Austin Hedges in the second round.
A wild card for Giolito could be the Athletics. The team spent the third-least in the draft last year but has been aggressive with international signings, is trying to rebuild its farm system and has the sixth-highest draft pool to play with this year. If Giolito slips into the second half of the first round or beyond, the teams most able to fit a $4 million player into their draft pool would be the Cardinals (who pick 19th and 23rd), the Blue Jays (17th and 22nd) and the Red Sox (24th and 31st).
The Brewers could also be an option. With back-to-back first-round picks (27 and 28), the Brewers' draft pool is $6.76 million. One interesting tie-in is that the two sons of Brewers owner Mark Attanasio attended Harvard-Westlake, and the team also may be more willing to spend more than their draft pool and lose future picks because they could get picks back if Zack Greinke signs elsewhere as a free agent. If Giolito slips out of the first round altogether, the Twins have the the first supplemental pick for losing Michael Cuddyer and have the largest draft pool at $12.36 million.