Mets change slot philosophy with 2014 Draft

3D logoPrior to the 2012 Draft, MLB instituted a new policy in how it handled the signing of amateur players selected in the June affair. With these new rules in place, it was hard to determine what the best strategy to employ was going to be. My preference would be to go above the slot recommendation with your top two picks and look to make up the difference later. In his first two drafts, Sandy Alderson went in the exact opposite direction.

The good news is that it appears Alderson has decided to zig where he previously zagged in the recently-completed 2014 Draft. The Mets had nine picks in the first 10 rounds and eight of those nine have signed. The only player not to ink a contract from the top 10 is first-round pick Michael Conforto. And currently the Mets are $317,500 under slot with their draft allotment.

Now, this does not guarantee that all of the excess will go to Conforto. The past two seasons the Mets have given six-figure above-slot deals to players drafted outside the top 10 rounds – where all players are assigned $100,000 salaries. The kicker is you don’t accrue money for your pool if you go under on these guys, but any excess counts against your budget.

Additionally, the Mets have finished under the draft allotment the previous two years. Last year they were $82,600 under their pool and in the first year of the new system, they were $185,600 beneath their total. Teams are taxed 75% for money they go over their allotment. Additionally, if they go more than 5% over their total, they would be subject to losing future draft picks. According to Chris Walendin, who provided all of the signing bonuses used in this piece, no club has yet to lose a draft pick.

The following two charts show who the Mets have gone over and under slot in the three years that this system has been in place. They are listed in descending order above/below slot recommendations. Let’s start with the ones who the Mets paid extra to get:

Year Player Round Excess Bonus
2013 Tyler Bashlor 11 $450,000
2012 Corey Oswalt 7 $328,400
2012 Chris Flexen 14 $274,400
2014 Erik Manoah 13 $200,000
2013 Matthew Oberste 7 $139,300
2013 Jared King 5 $119,200
2012 Tomas Nido 8 $113,100
2013 Dan Herrmann 20 $100,000
2014 Milton Ramos 3 $98,300
2013 Brandon Brosher 36 $67,500
2013 Luis Guillorme 10 $63,600
2013 Champ Stuart 6 $52,300
2012 Logan Taylor 11 $50,000
2014 Tyler Moore 6 $25,700
2014 Dash Winningham 8 $15,400

In 2012, Alderson went under slot on his first seven picks (they had a supplemental first rounder) and last year he went under on his first five (they had two selections in the third). We can see a difference in his drafting philosophy already, as he’s gone over slot with his third-round pick and all signs point to going over with the top pick, too.

Now, let’s take a look at the players who signed for fewer dollars than slot:

Year Player Round Savings
2013 Andrew Church 2 $288,800
2012 Gavin Cecchini 1 $250,000
2013 Dominic Smith 1 $240,300
2014 Josh Prevost 5 $239,600
2012 Matt Reynolds 2 $198,600
2014 Eudor Garcia 4 $148,600
2013 L.J. Mazzilli 4 $141,800
2013 Casey Meisner 3 $140,900
2013 Patrick Biondi 9 $136,200
2014 Kelly Secrest 10 $129,100
2012 Paul Sewald 10 $124,000
2012 Richie Rodriguez 9 $117,900
2013 Ivan Wilson 3 $100,000
2012 Branden Kaupe 4 $98,900
2014 Brad Wieck 7 $90,600
2012 Kevin Plawecki 1S $67,400
2014 Michael Katz 9 $49,000
2012 Brandon Welch 5 $42,600
2012 Jayce Boyd 6 $31,700
2013 Ricky Knapp 8 $26,500
2012 Matt Koch 3 $20,400

It’s certainly nice to see top prospects like Smith and Plawecki on this list. It also includes All-Stars Mazzilli and Reynolds. So at first glance it would seem the Mets did a good job selecting players to “go cheap” with in this process. Of course, that’s only one side of the coin. How did they do for the players they went extra on?

Flexen is the best of these premium picks so far. He dominated last year in the APPY and after a slow start has been performing better in the SAL. But Bashlor was underwhelming last year in the APPY and he’s back in short-season ball this year. Oswalt is back for his second stint in the APPY after posting an 8.15 ERA last year. Oberste had a .532 OPS last year in Brooklyn and has not been much better this year in Savannah. King has a solid .746 as a 22 year old in Savannah. Nido is back for his second stint in Brooklyn. Herrmann had a 9.60 ERA last year in the GULF and will be with another short-season club this year.

It’s too early to make any definitive statements but the returns so far with the players they spent extra on have been less than ideal. Of course, Flexen was underwhelming his first year in the APPY, as he put up a 5.62 ERA in his debut year in pro ball. The difference there was that he was performing as a 17 year old.and was one of the youngest players in the league.

We will have to keep tabs on all of these players as we move forward. But it’s a good sign to me that the Mets decided to pay more for players at the top of the draft this year. You’re much more likely to get a player who makes the majors in the first few rounds so it seems sensible to spend extra money there.

Keith Law has gone so far as to claim Conforto as the top prospect in the system. Now all we have to do is sign him.

4 comments for “Mets change slot philosophy with 2014 Draft

  1. Jerry Grote
    June 15, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Great stuff Brian. I’ve never understood the “slot” system in baseball and this helped.

    And its promising and wonderful to see all the great succes… well. Maybe not.

    • June 15, 2014 at 9:45 am

      Thanks JG

      I heartily recommend clicking on Chris Walendin’s name, which will take you to his site tpgMets. He does a wonderful job keeping up with things like the draft, options, free agents and other things. It’s an invaluable resource.

  2. Patrick Albanesius
    June 17, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    “The kicker is you don’t accrue money for your pool if you go under on these guys, but any excess counts against your budget.” To me this means the money you save on one guy can’t be used for another. If that is wrong, please correct me. However, if that is correct, why that is the rule? That appears to handcuff team needlessly.

    • June 18, 2014 at 7:03 am

      Partly true.

      Any money you save on guys picked in the first 10 rounds can be used for other guys. However, guys selected on rounds 11 and later — those are the ones that you can’t use money saved elsewhere.

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