[Note: I’m optimistic about the team going forward, and now that Spring games have started, it’s a time for joy and excitement. This is a curmudgeonly take that doesn’t really fit well, timing-wise — it’s something I should have produced two months ago. Nevertheless, I only just now ran the numbers, and here they are.]
The Braves will pick fifth in this year’s Rule 4 draft. They finished a half-game ahead of the Rays, Reds, and Padres in the standings in 2016; so, had they won just one fewer game, they’d be picking second. I was one who lamented this — trying to win every possible game down the stretch — at the time it was happening. Many others, including [redacted]s like David O’Brien at the AJC, were very adamant about the relative un-importance of three places in the draft order as compared to the pursuit/creation/maintenance of a “winning culture.” (Those are not intended as scare quotes.)
Anyway, I wanted to take a more detailed look at exactly what the Braves lost by winning. Here are the slot bonuses for the second and fifth pick in each (non-supplemental, non-compensatory) round of this year’s draft:
All told, that’s $1,612,300 in lost slot money to spend on this year’s draft, or roughly the equivalent of the slot value of the 41st pick.
For reference, here were last year’s 40th-46th picks:
40. Joey Wentz (Braves’ #14 prospect [MLB.com])
41. Nick Lodolo (highest drafted player not to sign — has the fourth-most IP on TCU, the #1 college team in the country)
42. Kevin Gowdy (Phillies’ #8 prospect)
43. Chris Okey (Reds’ #13 prospect)
44. Kyle Muller (Braves’ #17 prospect)
45. Ben Bowden (Rockies’ #14 prospect)
46. Lucas Erceg (Brewers’ #7 prospect)
Which do you prefer: 68-93, the current vibe, and the current farm system, or 67-94, whatever lesser vibe that would have produced, and the current farm system plus additional talent equivalent to that of one of those guys?
I realize the calculus isn’t truly that clean — there are non-tangible benefits to winning, it’s not like they realistically could have specifically designed to lose exactly one more game, those prospects are just high-risk prospects, etc. — but the choice remains clear to me. Wish the Braves had made a different one.