Subscriber Mailbag: Breaking Down How Mariners Can Use Their Extra Draft Capital In 2023

Image credit: Julio Rodriguez (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Will from Eugene, OR asks: The Mariners are in a unique situation in the draft pool era owning 3 T30 picks, or more importantly an extended bonus pool. How might they use this to their advantage?

Yes, the Mariners have a bounty of draft picks and draft capital to play with this year. They pick at No. 22 overall, No. 29 overall and No. 30 overall. 

The first pick is their standard first-round pick they would get any year. 

The second is MLB’s first example of their new “prospect promotion incentive” rule in action, and was granted because Julio Rodriguez was rated a top 100 prospect by at least two of three outlets (Baseball America*, MLB Pipeline and ESPN, who all rated him a top 100 prospect), was on the team’s Opening Day roster and went on to win the AL Rookie of the Year award.

The third is a supplemental first-round selection (MLB refers to these rounds as competitive balance picks—we don’t) for being either one of the bottom 10 markets in the game or a bottom 10 revenue team. 

That’s a lot of ammunition to work with in the 2023 class, and to your point, the biggest benefit might actually be the additional bonus pool money that comes along with those picks. Each year, there are examples of teams who have additional picks that are able to secure better talents than you would expect given their draft position. 

This is because teams and agents negotiate deals before picks are made, and teams with more money at their disposal are able to force players down the board to their picks. In some instances, a talented player with a high price tag could slide down for other reasons (an agent overplaying their hand, medical questions, off the field concerns, etc.) and a team with multiple picks and extra bonus pool money simply finds itself in a position to capitalize on a talent it otherwise wouldn’t have been able to access. 

What this creates is a lot of flexibility for those teams and the Mariners should find themselves with a draft haul that looks quite good on paper as soon as the first day of the draft is over. They are picking a bit later than many of the teams who have capitalized on this in previous years  (the Mets and Reds in 2022, the Marlins and Tigers in 2021, the D-backs in 2019 and the Royals and Rays in 2018) so how exactly they choose to use this advantage will be interesting to see—but I feel confident now that their haul will be one of the bigger draft storylines in 2023.

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