When the San Diego Padres agreed to terms with James Shields earlier this week, the 2015 MLB Draft order was finalized — finally.
Shields, the last of the free agents tied to draft compensation, cost the Padres the 13th overall pick in June's draft, in addition to the $70+ million they'll pay him over four years.
After scooping up Carlos Rodon with the third overall pick of 2014's draft, the White Sox will pick 8th this June. (They were originally slotted for 7th, but Houston's inability to come to terms with their No. 1 pick last year, Brady Aiken, means they get a compensatory pick, thus pushing the White Sox back).
Like San Diego, the White Sox's draft is affected by their offseason activity, as the free agent signings of Melky Cabrera and David Robertson — both of whom rejected qualifying offers from their former teams — cost them their second and third round picks in June's draft. Unlike the Padres, however, the Sox's first-round pick is in tact as teams who pick in the top 10 are not forced to forfeit that pick if they sign one of the QO free agents.
The Sox's lack of front-end picks also affects the amount they have to spend on the draft. With only eight picks in the draft's first 10 rounds, including no picks in rounds two or three, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo projects the White Sox will have $5,372,400 to spend on bonuses in the first 10 rounds. (MLB hasn't officially announced bonus allotments yet). Likewise, the projected slot for the No. 8 pick in the first round is $3,486,900.
If you're to assume the White Sox spend exactly slot for each of the first 10 rounds, that leaves them with around $1.8M for rounds 4-10.
Of course, things are rarely that simple.
A year ago, taking a player that was expected to command more than slot value (and who has Scott Boras for an agent), the Sox gave Rodon a $6.5M bonus, ~800K above slot. With picks in each of the first 10 rounds, they had more money to spend, but going over slot meant they had to draft three players they could sign for well below slot value (including eighth-round pick John Ziznewski, who signed for just $10,000). That, plus the surprising slot signing of second-round pick Spencer Adams, helped the cause.
If you look back over the past several years, this is nothing new — for the White Sox or other teams. You balance making picks of expected above-slot signings with below-slot signings while trying your best not to sacrifice talent for money.
That said, watching the money will be interesting come draft day. As we get closer to June 8 and start diving into potential picks for the White Sox at No. 8, sign-ability will be something to keep an eye on. Rick Hahn proved last year that he's willing to sign a player he likes for more than slot in the first round, even if it means taking lesser talent in future rounds.
Furthermore, the Cabrera and Robertson signings showed that, while building a solid farm system remains important, he's not going to pass on the opportunity to improve the major league roster when given the opportunity just because it will harm the team's draft position.