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Which Teams Got The Most 2020 MLB Draft Value?

2020 Draft Board

The contracts for every drafted player in the 2020 class are now signed.

There has never been a draft where 100% of players selected came to terms on a deal until now. Obviously, the draft being just five rounds helps with that total. But even looking at just the top five rounds under the current draft structure—going back to 2012—the rate of signings is high.

Only the 2019 and 2020 draft classes have seen every top five round player signed. Below you can see how many players didn’t sign from 2012-2020 after being selected among the first five rounds.

YearNo. Who Didn't SignPlayers
20126
20134
20144
20154
20161Nick Lodolo
20173
20184
20190
20200

Teams generally do a good job of signing players selected in the first ten rounds. But for the 2020 draft, it was even more important for teams to get their entire class under contract.

First and foremost, with the draft being cut by 87.5%, each individual player means more for a draft class. Not signing a player in a 40-round draft is less of an issue than failing to come to terms in a draft class that is only 3-to-7 players deep.

From the player side, it’s perhaps easier to agree to a deal given the increased uncertainty that surrounds college baseball, scholarships, roster spots and playing time in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Another factor is the medical situation. With the college season lasting just four weeks, there was less time for players to accumulate injuries—particularly injuries just before the draft—that might have complicated or prevented signings.

All of these factors led to signing 100% of the class. Now that the ink is dried on deals, we can take a deeper look at the 2020 class in its entirety. After previously looking at first round values, we can see which teams landed the most talent overall and got the best value with their money.

Just like in our first round analysis, we’ll assign players slot values based on their ranking in the BA 500 and then compare that to what they actually signed for. Hopefully this serves as a proxy for value based on our current information, though it’s worth noting that evaluating and grading draft classes without allowing a few years of development is a fool’s errand.

Still, we might stumble into a few interesting nuggets. First, here are the top 50 signing bonuses in the 2020 draft:

RoundPickClubPlayerSigning Bonus
11DETSpencer Torkelson$8,416,300
15TORAustin Martin$7,000,825
13MIAMax Meyer$6,700,000
14KCAsa Lacy$6,670,000
16SEAEmerson Hancock$5,700,000
17PITNick Gonzales$5,432,400
12BALHeston Kjerstad$5,200,000
19COLZac Veen$5,000,000
110LAAReid Detmers$4,670,000
111CWSGarrett Crochet$4,547,500
18SDRobert Hassell$4,300,000
115PHIMick Abel$4,075,000
112CINAustin Hendrick$4,000,000
113SFPatrick Bailey$3,797,500
116CHIEd Howard$3,745,500
119NYPete Crow-Armstrong$3,359,000
126OAKTyler Soderstrom$3,300,000
380SDCole Wilcox$3,300,000
114TEXJustin Foscue$3,250,000
120MILGarrett Mitchell$3,242,900
122WSHCade Cavalli$3,027,000
247CWSJared Kelley$3,000,000
1S32KCNick Loftin$3,000,000
124TBNick Bitsko$3,000,000
252NYJ.T. Ginn$2,900,000
121STLJordan Walker$2,900,000
127MINAaron Sabato$2,750,000
117BOSNick Yorke$2,700,000
118ARIBryce Jarvis$2,650,000
128NYYAustin Wells$2,500,000
385SFKyle Harrison$2,497,500
240MIADax Fulton$2,400,000
1S33ARISlade Cecconi$2,384,900
1S30BALJordan Westburg$2,365,500
244PITJared Jones$2,200,000
125ATLJared Shuster$2,197,500
129LABobby Miller$2,197,500
254STLMasyn Winn$2,100,000
1S35COLDrew Romo$2,095,800
1S31PITCarmen Mlodzinski$2,050,000
123CLECarson Tucker$2,000,000
1S34SDJustin Lange$2,000,000
255WSHCole Henry$2,000,000
238DETDillon Dingler$1,952,300
239BALHudson Haskin$1,906,800
1S37TBAlika Williams$1,850,000
242TORC.J. Van Eyk$1,797,500
4103BALCoby Mayo$1,750,000
389BOSBlaze Jordan$1,750,000
243SEAZach DeLoach$1,729,800

Spending Efficiency

Next we’ll take a look at which teams got the most bang for their buck throughout the entire draft, based on BA 500 rankings. For this, we’ll take the difference of a team’s entire class of actual signing bonuses, minus the assigned BA 500 slot value.

For instance, the slot value for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft is $8,415,300. So our No. 1-ranked draft prospect, Spencer Torkelson, is assigned that $8,415,300 value. Now we take his actual signing bonus ($8,416,300) and subtract his assigned value to get the difference—$1,000. So the Tigers paid a thousand dollars more than Torkelson’s assigned value, based on his BA 500 ranking.

Players ranked outside of the top 10 round range were assigned $125,000 values, while players not ranked on the BA 500 were assigned $20,000 values.

After doing this for every player in the draft, we add up the totals for each team’s draft class to get an idea of which teams spent “wisely,” according to the BA 500, and which didn’t. That leads us to the following chart:

TeamDifference (Actual $ - Assigned $)
Brewers-$2,463,500
Tigers-$1,852,700
Phillies-$1,236,500
Pirates-$1,216,900
Yankees-$815,100
White Sox-$676,900
Athletics-$595,800
Astros-$421,900
Yankees-$396,500
Angels-$323,200
Blue Jays-$304,975
Rays-$175,100
Rockies-$3,300
Indians$584,900
Reds$790,800
Nationals$840,500
Mariners$984,500
Dodgers$992,900
Twins$1,124,200
Braves$1,151,800
Royals$1,178,300
Cubs$1,599,600
Giants$2,025,500
Diamondbacks$2,058,100
Padres$2,649,304
Marlins$2,896,300
Cardinals$2,907,900
Red Sox$3,576,700
Rangers$4,560,100
Orioles$5,265,700

Based on this methodology, the BA 500 says the Brewers, Tigers, Phillies and Pirates all got more than a million dollars in surplus value, while teams like the Red Sox, Rangers and Orioles paid plenty extra for their collection of players.

The Brewers aren’t too much of a surprise at the top, considering the No. 6-ranked prospect Garrett Mitchell at pick 20 is far and away the best value of the draft, signing for $2.5 million less than his BA value. Here’s how the entire Brewers’ draft class breaks down:

RdPickBA RankPlayerActual Signing BonusOver/UnderBA Assigned ValueDifference (Actual - Assigned)
1206Mitchell, Garrett$3,242,900$0$5,742,900-$2,500,000
25373Zamora, Freddy$1,150,000-$220,400$857,400$292,600
392122Warren, Zavier$575,000-$62,600$469,000$106,000
4121136Wiemer, Joey$150,000-$323,700$410,100-$260,100
5151138Cantrelle, Hayden$300,000-$53,700$402,000-$102,000
tigers-900x635.jpg

Detroit Tigers 2020 Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update

Updating the Tigers' top 30 with new draft picks, plus a look at their overall system, risers and fallers.

The Brewers got all of their efficiency in Mitchell’s signing, as their next four picks essentially canceled each other out in terms of the difference in money. It’s worth noting that the Brewers signed Mitchell for slot value and then went under slot for each of their next four picks.

Milwaukee had a bonus pool of $6,078,300 but only spent $5,417,900, or 89% of its allowed total. Leaving $660,400 on the table in the draft is akin to having the 90th pick in the draft and simply passing on it.

Our second team in efficiency, the Tigers, went in the opposite direction:

RdPickBA RankPlayerActual Signing BonusOver/UnderBA Assigned ValueDifference (Actual - Assigned)
111Torkelson, Spencer$8,416,300$1,000$8,415,300$1,000
23827Dingler, Dillon$1,952,300$0$2,570,100-$617,800
2S6242Cabrera, Danny$1,210,000$107,300$1,771,100-$561,100
373140Cruz, Trei$900,000$42,600$394,300$505,700
410251Workman, Gage$1,000,000$428,600$1,436,900-$436,900
513257Keith, Colt$500,000$73,400$1,243,600-$743,600

Detroit spent $13,978,600 total on bonuses, a 4.9% overage of its assigned bonus pool of $13,325,700. After getting Torkelson for essentially his exact assigned value, the Tigers got excellent value with catcher Dillon Dingler, outfielder Daniel Cabrera and third basemen Gage Workman and Colt Keith.

The Tigers were the only team to sign five players with assigned value of $1 million or more—the Pirates were second, and the only team with four such players—and went over slot with every player outside of Dingler.

Only shortstop Trei Cruz was an overpay based on the BA 500 and each of the other players in the class more than made up for that signing bonus, in terms of overall value. It’s hard to not like a draft class that features five players ranked among the top 60, with the lowest-ranked player checking in at No. 140.

On the opposite end of the value spectrum is the Orioles:

RdPickBA RankPlayerActual Signing BonusOver/UnderBA Assigned ValueDifference (Actual - Assigned)
1213Kjerstad, Heston5,200,000-2,589,9004,197,3001,002,700
CB-A3033Westburg, Jordan2,365,500+02,202,200163,300
239211Haskin, Hudson1,906,800+0211,5001,695,300
37491Servideo, Anthony950,000+105,800647,300302,700
410379Mayo, Coby1,750,000+1,184,400780,400969,600
5133147Baumler, Carter1,500,000+1,077,700367,9001,132,100

Baltimore chose to go a bit off the board with its second overall pick, signing Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad to a significantly underslot deal and put its savings toward high-upside preps later in the draft.

But even with a significant haircut, the BA 500 value saw the Orioles overpaying around $1 million for Kjerstad, whose assigned BA value was just over $4 million as the No. 13 player in the class.

But that wasn’t the steepest payment in Baltimore’s class, as the Orioles signed No. 211 prospect Hudson Haskin for an overslot deal at No. 39 in the second round, which is $1,695,300 more than his assigned value. In fact, each of Baltimore’s players were signed for more than their assigned value and their fifth-round pick, prep righthander Carter Baumler was again signed for more than a million more than his assigned value.

Haskin is the biggest name to watch, as his pure toolset could make him a much better talent than this method would suggest, but in pre-draft reporting Baseball America talked with plenty who were skeptical that an unorthodox swing could run into difficulties against pro pitching.

After the Orioles, the Rangers were the second team that stood out at the bottom of the list:

RdPickBA RankPlayerActual Signing BonusOver/UnderBA Assigned ValueDifference (Actual - Assigned)
11436Foscue, Justin3,250,000-786,8002,045,4001,204,600
250NRCarter, Evan1,250,000-219,90020,0001,230,000
386155Roby, Tekoah775,000+75,300340,000435,000
4115258MacLean, Dylan1,200,000+697,700159,2001,040,800
5145280Saggese, Thomas800,000+424,800150,300649,700

The Rangers certainly had one of the more unconventional drafts in 2020, taking Mississippi State infielder Justin Foscue in the middle of the first round to start things off. Foscue was a bit of a reach at No. 14, but was one of the better college middle infielders in the class. Even so, the BA 500 values saw his $3.25 million bonus as a $1.2 million overpay.

Texas followed that up with another $1.2 million overpay, but of a completely different variety. While Foscue was highly thought of in the 2020 class, prep outfielder Evan Carter was much less widely regarded entering the draft and was both the highest-drafted and highest-paid unranked player in the 2020 class.

Texas’ third million dollar overpay came with fourth-rounder Dylan MacLean, a similar pick to Baltimore’s Baumler selection. Two prep arms who have clear talent, but plenty of projection that still remains and adds to the risk of the profile.

Total Value

While it is interesting to look at the efficiency of team spending, at the end of the day the only thing that matters is the amount of talent you add to a system.

Here are how each of the 30 teams did when simply summing the BA 500 value of each draft class. We’ve also kept the difference in actual money and assigned value to show that you don’t have to spend “wisely” in order to add a significant amount of talent (Royals, Marlins) and at the opposite end you can spend efficiently and still come out without much talent relative to other clubs (Astros, Yankees).

Where you pick and how many picks you have to work with very much matter. It doesn’t matter how well you scout and evaluate the best talent in the class if you don’t have your first crack at things until the 72nd pick.

TeamTotal BA Assigned ValueDifference (Actual $ - Assigned $)Total Picks
Tigers$15,831,300-$1,852,7006
Pirates$12,284,300-$1,216,9006
Royals$11,341,700$1,178,3006
Blue Jays$10,507,300-$304,9755
Rockies$10,336,100-$3,3006
Marlins$9,108,400$2,896,3006
Mariners$8,976,600$984,5006
Padres$8,530,700$2,649,3046
White Sox$8,434,400-$676,9005
Orioles$8,406,600$5,265,7006
Mets$8,314,100-$815,1006
Brewers$7,881,400-$2,463,5005
Reds$7,755,200$790,8006
Rays$7,649,300-$175,1006
Giants$7,432,000$2,025,5007
Phillies$6,936,500-$1,236,5004
Indians$6,805,100$584,9006
Angels$6,777,400-$323,2004
Athletics$6,043,200-$595,8005
Nationals$5,806,500$840,5006
Cardinals$5,382,100$2,907,9007
Cubs$5,267,200$1,599,6005
Dodgers$5,231,100$992,9006
Diamondbacks$5,126,800$2,058,1005
Yankees$4,083,900-$396,5003
Twins$3,205,800$1,124,2004
Braves$2,840,000$1,151,8004
Rangers$2,714,900$4,560,1005
Astros$2,704,900-$421,9004
Red Sox$1,673,300$3,576,7004

Detroit at the top is unsurprising. The team picked first overall, took the best player in the class, and got great value with every other pick as well. The gap between them and the next best team is notable, and perhaps that tells us something about just how well the Tigers did in this draft.

The next four teams on the list all picked among the first 10 picks and each benefitted by getting players to fall who we expected to be off the board in front of them. The Pirates landed No. 5 prospect Nick Gonzales with the seventh pick (-$748,300 difference), the Royals landed the top pitcher in the class in Asa Lacy with the fourth pick (-$551,200), the Blue Jays grabbed Austin Martin at pick No. 5 (-$789,075) and the Rockies saw Zac Veen fall all the way to No. 9 (-$432,400).

The Marlins are the first team on the list that didn’t spend efficiently, according to the BA 500 (+$2,896,300), but when you add five prospects who ranked among the top 80, that value adds up. Righthander Kyle Hurt was the only Miami pick who didn’t rank among the top 80, but he still slotted in at No. 164.

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In addition to trying to provide currency analysis of the 2020 draft class, this exercise should help us refine and evaluate our own process in the future. In five years, if the best and worst draft classes don’t align at all with the charts above, we can dive in and see why. Did we have some players ranked too low (players like Nick Yorke, Max Meyer and Hudson Haskin come to mind) and others too high (Garrett Mitchell, Jared Kelley, Tanner Burns)?

Finding the answers to those questions and then figuring out why should make us better at evaluating future draft classes. For now, this is how we see the 2020 draft class. 

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