Atlanta Braves lack of pool money drove Rule 4 draft selections

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Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson was selected first in the 2015 MLB amateur draft.(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Atlanta Braves’ draft choices were the best available for the money available.

My post supporting the Braves’ first-round selection of Jared Shuster brought a lot of groans about who the Atlanta Braves should have taken instead.

Let’s state this clearly upfront:  none of the options suggested were possible if the team stayed within its allotted pool and acquired four quality players.

Friday, Jake stated his dislike of the phrase ‘take the best player available’. He’s correct, but the phrase should say, “take the best player on the board that allows the team to stay within spending limits set by MLB, and acquire enough good players to make sure they get as much value from the draft as possible”.  Of course, that’s too long for a sound bite.

Even with a reduced number of rounds in the 2020 draft, teams may not exceed their pool allocation by five percent without incurring a penalty.

Teams that outspend their allotment:

  • By 0-5% – pay a 75 percent tax on the overage.
  • By 5-10% – lose a first-rounder next year and pay a 75% tax.
  • By 10-15% – lose a first and a second-round pick next year and pay a 100% tax.
  • Greater than 15%  – lose their first-round pick for the next two seasons and pay a 100% tax.

My draft-day post laid out the money available to the Atlanta Braves in 2020. The slots, and their suggested values, are:

  • $2,740,300 for the first-round – 25th pick
  • $0 No second-round pick available
  • $599,100 for the third-round – 97th slot
  • $451,800 for the fourth-round – 127th selection
  • $336,600 for the fifth-round – 156th pick

The total available with the pool is $4,127,800. A five percent overage of the total pool comes to $206,390. If the Braves wanted to spend as much as possible while staying safely out of range of penalties, they could spend $4,334,100.

One final note:  while not signing a round-one or round-two pick this year gets a team a comp pick in 2021, the team’s draft pool is reduced by the slot money allocated for that selection.  In other words, failing to sign Jared Shuster would reduce the total bonus pool to $1,367,500.

The Braves have had recent history with this issue:  see Carter Stewart.

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