Moneyball with big money: Dodgers buy extra draft pick

The Dodgers spent $2.75 million to buy an extra draft pick

The Dodgers' owners poured millions into their front office last winter, buying some of the brightest minds in the game. And as executives around the major leagues watch anxiously, they ask this question: What will bright guys who made their reputations by building teams with no money do when they get their hands on all this cash?

Here is what they did not do last winter: Buy up all the free agents. The Dodgers spent $48 million on pitcher Brandon McCarthy, but their total spending ranked in the middle of the pack.

Here is what they just did: The Dodgers spent $2.75 million to buy an extra draft pick.

The Dodgers last week acquired reliever Ryan Webb from the Baltimore Orioles, then removed him from their 40-man roster. The Dodgers sent two marginal minor leaguers to the Orioles and got one back in return, and the Dodgers remain responsible for Webb's $2.75-million salary.

The Dodgers officially released Webb on Monday. But what the Dodgers also got from the Orioles was an extra draft pick -- a "competitive balance" pick, the only kind of pick that can be traded under baseball rules. The competitive balance picks were introduced in 2013, with the intention of giving smaller-market clubs flexibility to improve by getting an extra draft pick or trading it for another asset.

The Dodgers got the No. 74 pick in the June draft, giving them four of the first 74 picks.

The No. 74 pick does not guarantee a prominent major leaguer -- St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay arguably is the best No. 74 pick of the past quarter-century; the majority of the picks did not make the majors -- but every extra pick gives the Dodgers a better chance to hit big on one, and in a much more cost-effective manner than signing a thirty-something free-agent to a  nine-figure contract.

The No. 74 pick carries an $827,000 slot value, the recommended bonus for that pick, but the Dodgers also could use that money to pay above slot value for other picks.

Other clubs with four early draft picks: the Colorado Rockies (four of the first 44), Houston Astros (four of the first 46) and Atlanta Braves (four of the first 54).

 

 

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