The Rays earned the number four pick in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft with last year’s disappointing season. It will be the first top ten pick for the Rays since they selected Tim Beckham number one overall in the 2008 draft.
The number four pick isn’t the only pick that is important for the Rays. They were awarded the highest competitive balance pick at number 31. In addition to the 31st pick they will pick again at 40.
The whole draft matters, but these will be the picks that everybody will focus upon. They could contain very good players, but still have a very high chance of never even playing a game in the majors.
When the Rays will draft
June 12: Rounds 1-2 including Competitive Balance Round A and B
June 13: Rounds 3-10
June 14: Rounds 11-40
Picks and Bonus Pool
The slot bonus system has worked as a defacto hard cap.
On any overage of 0-5% the team pays a 75% penalty. This is relatively minor and teams have treated this as the hard cap. For going over by 5-10% in addition to the 75% penalty the team forfeits their first round pick in the next year’s draft. If a team goes over by 10-15% they pay a 100% penalty on the overage and lose their first two picks in the following year’s draft. If they go over by more than 15% they lose their first pick in the next two drafts.
No team has been willing to give up a future draft pick, but it would be interesting to see a team go all out on a draft like teams have done in the international free agent market.
After the tenth round any signing over $100k bonus goes against your signing pool for the overage.
What’s New in 2017
The biggest change in this year’s draft is the slot bonus is much flatter than year’s past. At number four the Rays have $894,900 more in bonus money, but the slot bonus at number one is $1,244,300 less than it was last year. From slots five to ten the teams are given $1-1.3MM more over a selection at that pick.
The top picks weren’t getting the full allotment and teams were just using it to get another mid first round pick with their second round pick.
It is unknown how this will play out, but it should avoid situations that occurred last year with Jason Groome and Blake Rutherford dropping in the draft last year due to bonus demands. Many more teams will have space to take these top talents as once you fall out of the top three the money doesn’t continue dropping so fast.
This might also make it more difficult to have pre-draft deals that allow teams to spend significantly more on a pick later in the draft that fell due to signability issues.
At four the Rays should be able to select any available player they want, but in the picks that follow the amount of space they project to have available. Some players with strong commitments or bonus demands will not be able to be picked until the 11th round when failure to sign a pick doesn’t result in a loss of the slot bonus pool money like it does in the first ten rounds.
You can follow all of DRaysBay’s draft coverage here.