Don’t sign James Shields Dodgers. You wouldn’t want to miss out on Blake DeWitt, would you? Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Between now, and November, there will be a lot of talk about the World Series, and history being made with it. For most of us that’s boring talk, the offseason is where most of the excitement will come. One of the biggest wrinkles that was added recently has to be the Qualifying Offer which is pretty much a one year “offer” that any team can make to a free agent player that was on the team for the duration of the season (could not have been traded or DFA’d) this season the “qualifying offer” is valued at 15.3 million dollars. If a player turns it down, he goes into free agency with a draft pick attached to him. If you sign, say, James Shields who will most certainly receive a qualfying offer, the team who signs him will forfeit a draft pick, and the team who loses him will get a pick inbetween the first and second round.
So teams have to make a decision, do you tender the risk of paying a player 15.3 million dollars over the course of a full season, while also potentially gaining a draft pick inbetween the first and second rounds, or do you simply take away that risk and receive no compensation. Thus far, nobody has accepted a qualifying offer in the 2 seasons it’s been in existence, and that figures to be the case, at least for the position players this time around.
Given what Mark Saxon has been saying about the draft pick and how reluctant the Dodgers appear to be about giving it up, i’d wager that the Dodgers will be picking in the mid to late 20’s come next June.
This isn’t without worry, lets take a quick look at the history of the 28th pick. I’ll be using bWAR because it’s useful in giving us a general idea of a player’s career.
*Lets note that I won’t include the 5 players drafted this decade in this study*
[table id=13 /]
These are all the players who have accrued positive value according to bWAR. And remember, that this is in terms of a player’s career, out of the 45 players who have been drafted 28th overall since 1965, a grand total of 19 have even been “above replacement” level. On the flip side there have been 26 players who either haven’t reached the major leagues, or have been sub-replacement level talents, which is a staggering number.
And it’s not just the 28th overall pick that has had a poor history.
The 29th overall selection has an incredible top two picks in George Brett and Adam Wainwright, but 26 out of 45 picks have been career minor leaguers or talents that could not compile above replacement level values.
The 26th overall pick has been even worse in generating terrible talent, while it has a borderline hall of famer at the top, 33 out of 45 picks have been below replacement or never got a cup of coffee with the big league club (career wise).
The 25th overall pick has seen 27 overall picks never make it up to the big league club or been really mediocre baseball players.
*I detailed the picks in front of the 28th selection because the Dodgers could very well pick higher assuming a team picking ahead of them, say the Tigers sign a David Robertson type player, forfeiting their first rounder.*
Granted, the analysis isn’t that in depth, but it’s enough to make a judgement. Generally it’s difficult to generate useful talents when picking later than 25th. Baseball in general is top heavy, and lots of first round picks bust, but the difference between a late first rounder and second rounder isn’t as large as a mid first rounder and a late first rounder.
This obviously leads to asking whether it’s worth signing a high profile free agent with a first round draft pick attached to him. Should the Dodgers sign the Max Scherzer‘s, the James Shields, the David Robertsons, the Russell Martins, etc, etc. I’m sure there will be more information that going into these types of decisions than just “welp he has a draft pick so we can’t touch him”. My gut feeling tells me that James Shields’ pricetag and 1910 innings pitched in the last 9 seasons factor in more than a late round draft pick, that Max Scherzer’s demands to be paid near Justin Verlander money would mean more than the 28th pick, that David Robertson only being able to pitch 70 innings a year would factor in more than a late first rounder, but it’s just a gut feeling.
If the Dodgers find somebody that they feel could really help the 2015/2016/2017 team, i’d hate for them to not seriously pursue that option because there’s a minuscule chance that they select a player with the 28th pick (or sightly higher) that *could* become slightly useful for the 2020 Dodgers. Late first round draft picks tend to be a tad overrated in today’s prospect, cost controlled heavy world.