Draft Picks for Dummies

Initally when I learned that the Boston Red Sox had signed Marco Scutaro, I rejoyced at the thought that the Blue Jays would receive their first round pick in the 2010 MLB draft.

Apparently it’s not exactly as black and white as one would think.

If a team signs a Type A free agent, its first-round pick goes to the former team — unless that pick is in the top 15, in which case a second-round pick goes to the former team. The former team also gets an extra pick between the first and second rounds.

Currently as it stands, the Blue Jays receive the Red Sox # 29 pick in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft. But after letting go of Billy Wagner, the Red Sox recoup their pick from the Braves and get pick # 20 in the first round.


The Red Sox on the other hand could lose their # 20 pick if the Braves sign a Type A free agent ranked higher than Billy Wagner was (who is currently 34th) and would subsequently be bumped to the second round of the draft.

It appears that very same thing will happen to the Blue Jays # 29 pick recently inhereted from Boston. All the Red Sox would have to do is sign a Type A free agent who was offered arbitration that is ranked higher than Marco Scutaro (who is currently 20th) to bump the Jays pick into the second round. They would simply have to ink Matt Holliday, and suddenly the Jays dreams of having two picks in the first round would be all but crushed.

Faithful BJH commenter Peter D has pointed out that the Red Sox could theoretically let Jason Bay walk, and meanwhile sign free agent Matt Holliday and still improve their standing in the draft. One thing’s for sure, Theo Epstein is one crafty cat.

That means if the Red Sox do in fact sign Matt Holliday (which they are expected to do), in turn the Cardinals would receive the Red Sox # 29 pick and the Blue Jays would be SOL.

So much for the first round pick.

I guess Alex Anthopoulos initially screwed the Red Sox by taking both John McDonald and Alex Gonzalez off the free agent market, basically forcing Boston to overpay Marco Scutaro. It now appears that Epstein will get the last laugh, as any first round picks the Blue Jays were hoping on gaining from Marco Scutaro have all but flown out the window.

I don’t claim to be an expert on Elias Rankings, free agents and whatnot, so if anywhere in this post I have been mislead, please let me know in the comments below or send me an email.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

15 thoughts on “Draft Picks for Dummies

  • December 4, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    All isn't lost, the suplimental 1st round draft pick is guaranteed, and some notable players drafted in this round include:

    – Chris Coughlan (2006)
    – Joba Chamberlain (2006)
    – Clay Buchholz (2005)
    – Houston Street (2004)
    – Adam Jones (2003)
    – Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2003)
    – David Wright (2001)
    – Brian Roberts (1999)
    – Aaron Rowand (1998)
    – Mark Prior (1998 – but didn't sign)
    – Brad Wilkerson (1998)

  • December 4, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    That's actually a lot less quality players taken in the supplemental round than I was expecting. If the past 10 years is a true representation of what we can expect for the future, this tells us we can expect about 1 player taken in the supplemental round each year to develop into a decent player.

    When you consider that about 10-15 guys are taken on average as supplemental 1st round draft picks, this means that there is about an 8% chance your pick will develop into a decent player. Those are pretty crappy odds.

    With this in mind, the Jays better trade Roy Halladay and not let walk as a free agent for draft picks.

  • December 4, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    And at least the Blue Jays 11th overall pick can't be screwed with – I'm guessing that the best talent is within the top 20 picks, but like you said there are often great players that come out of the supplemental and later rounds.

    Good point on the Roy Halladay note – everyone is saying that "at least the Jays will get two picks", but seeing how things have already transpired, one of those picks could be bumped to the second round.

    Really, it seems like a total crapshoot with the draft but I trust AA will get a decent haul in 2010 – so long as they can SIGN THEM!

  • December 4, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    I just did some number crunching and came up with the following:

    The 10 years of 1995 through 2004 there were a total of 115 players selected in the supplemental 1st round of the draft. Of these, only 8 players have either a career OPS greater than .800, or a career ERA under 4.50. That is 7% of the players fit these criteria.


  • December 4, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Great post, Ian. I too was confused. Thanks.

  • December 4, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    You said that Boston could sign Rich Harden and we would get bumped down. Too bad Rich Harden is not a Type A nor was he offered arbitration.

    Great job otherwise though! Really informative.

  • December 4, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    That was supposed to be "preview" but oh well.

    the last previous point is the relevant one.

    First of all, only 10 free agent Type A players were offered arbitration. Besides Scutaro, Wagner and Figgins have already signed.

    That leaves seven.

    It's a certainty neither Valverde, Soriano or Gonzalez will sign in Boston and a virtual certainty Lackey won't.

    And I'm pretty sure Bentencourt doesn't outrank Scutaro.

    That leaves Bay and Holliday. And Bay obviously won't bump our pick.


    Unless the Red Sox sign Holliday, we get the first rounder.

    And it's not like they are the only suitor. I wouldn't sweat it just yet.

  • December 4, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Nice work, Peter! Just goes to show you that the talent really drops off after the first round. A 7 percent chance of being an elite player coming from the supplemental round or later is not very good.

    eyebleaf, to tell you the truth … I'm STILL confused.

    Nick, thanks for the heads up. The Elias rankings page I was looking at must have been outdated … it was surprisingly difficult to find a list where they actually listed the Type A free agents in terms of rankings.

    Southpaw, thanks for clarifying. So the only scenario that bumps the Jays pick out of the first round is ONLY if the Boston signs Holliday? That is a little more reassuring actually. I thought that so long as the Red Sox sign any Type A higher than Scutaro, the pick would be bumped.

  • December 5, 2009 at 3:27 am

    The Red Sox have shown interest in Soriano and Gonzalez.

  • December 5, 2009 at 3:48 am

    Dammit! I guess they need to replenish one of their bullpen arms after Wagner left, so I can see the Red Sox signing one of those guys. If that's the case, there goes the first round pick for the Jays!

  • December 5, 2009 at 4:41 am

    "I thought that so long as the Red Sox sign any Type A higher than Scutaro, the pick would be bumped."

    That is true, but I for one do not believe Epstien will sign one of those pitchers and that only leaves Holliday and Bay.

    Soriano and Gonzalez will both be looking to sign somewhere where they can close. Boston would have to overpay i think to sign them for a set up role.

    I could see one of them signing in a place where the current closer is shakey or old, but that's not Boston.

  • December 5, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Peter G, $6 million for Scutaro? Not overpaying in sense of Red Sox payroll, but overpaying in the sense of Blue Jays payroll. Compared to Orlando Cabrera, Scutaro will be a bargain and thankfully the Blue Jays were not willing to pay that kind of money.

    Love the name of your blog, by the way!

  • December 5, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    I haven't read that Soriano and Gonzalez need to close. They've both spent at least half of their careers as setup men. You want to close going into a FA period, but all that matters now is the money.

    I think if the Sox are interested in more relief pitching, we should add Downs to a Halladay deal – it would save them a pick on a FA and might get them two in the fall.

  • December 6, 2009 at 12:30 am

    The Red Sox could use a lefty specialist too – maybe Downs could play setup for Papelbon. Downs contract runs up at the end of next year anyway.

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