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The Rays have the second largest draft pool in 2018

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MLB: Winter Meetings
Bloom gonna spend that money
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last year the Tampa Bay Rays held the number four overall pick in the draft and selected LHP/1B Brendan McKay out of the University of Louisville. Despite not having a selection until number 16 overall the Rays $12,415,600 draft pool (second highest behind the Kansas City Royals) is only $112,500 less than last year.

The Rays picked up the 31st pick as compensation for losing Alex Cobb in free agency.

The Rays picked up the 32nd pick as compensation for failing to sign their 31st pick in the draft Drew Rasmussen after he failed a physical. Rasmussen ended up needing the second Tommy John Surgery of his career before the college baseball season began.

Last year the Rays received the top competitive balance pick with the 31st pick in the draft. This year they received the 3rd pick out of six picks in the competitive balance round B with the 71st pick of the draft.

Top 10 round slot bonuses:

#16 - $3,603,500
#31 - $2,224,400
#32 - $2,171,700
#56 - $1,228,000
#71 - $850,700
#92 - $613,400
#120 - $460,200
#150 - $343,600
#180 - $262,200
#210 - $205,200
#240 - $165,600
#270 - $147,800
#300 - $139,300

After the tenth round amounts over $100k for each pick count against a team’s bonus pool.

Teams have struck deals at the top in order to get a player that drops due to signing bonus demand. The Houston Astros pulled off the most successful attempt when they took Carlos Correa way underslot with the number one pick giving them the money to sign Lance McCullers Jr. with the 41st overall pick.

This year that is going to be much more difficult to pull off. Even if you are able to save money the Rays and Royals stand in the way with a big pile of cash and multiple picks before teams at the top get their second pick.

The Rays have position on the Royals, so even though they don’t have as much spending power, $366,300 less, the Rays get their first pick at 16 just ahead of the Royals first pick at 18.

The Rays also have position on their second and third picks. The Rays are the first team to get a second pick in the draft at 31 and then get the 32nd pick. The Royals fall just behind with the 33rd and 34th picks due to losing Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain in free agency.

If a player starts to fall due to signability issues the Rays are in a great position to pounce.

The teams in the 20s don’t have the financial power to make a play, but they can punt on more picks in the top 10 rounds and start picking college seniors much earlier than the rest of the pack.

The one exception is the Cleveland Indians pick at 29. Due to their compensation pick for losing Carlos Santana in free agency at number 35 and their competitive balance pick at 41, they are the one team you could plausibly see take a player that looks to be falling to the Rays picks at 31 and 32.

Trying to project who will be available for the Rays with the 16th pick is quite difficult. Most see the top five as locked in even if the order does get changed around. After that things can really open up and if a team goes off the board it can cause havoc to the rest of the draft board.

The Rays have to be ready to take advantage of any situation that presents itself.