I absolutely loved the Cubs 2020 draft picks. After a few years where they have been pretty predictably drafting college tested pitchers with a high upside guy they went big in the 2020 draft. The first round pick of former Jackie Robinson West shortstop Ed Howard was inspired. And I admit, I’m responsible for at least 105 of the views on this tape of fourth round pick Luke Little:
Luke Little, Bullpen (T105mph). pic.twitter.com/euQj3H2Vpl— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 12, 2020
But as fun as it was to watch the Cubs go all in on higher upside picks, I spent most of the last two days thinking about the stories a five-round draft would never be capable of telling. Let’s start with this list of Cubs players who all went after the fifth round of their respective drafts:
Notable past or current @Cubs players drafted later than 5th round..— Alex Cohen (@voiceofcohen) June 10, 2020
- Andre Dawson (11th round)
- Ryne Sandberg (20th round)
- Mark Grace (24th round)
- Anthony Rizzo (6th round)
- Kyle Hendricks (8th round)
That’s just the Cubs. Every team has one of your all-time favorites who was drafted after the fifth round. This year some of those players will be pursued as undrafted free agents — with a maximum signing bonus of $20,000. Sports Illustrated laid out the critical decision those players will face:
The silver lining is clubs will have the ability to pursue and sign an unlimited number of undrafted prospects. However, it comes with the caveat that teams will only be allowed to offer a maximum signing bonus of $20,000 per player.
While college seniors will feel the most obliged to accept the $20,000 bonus, it could seriously impact the number of high school seniors or college underclassmen that sign for that money. That leaves a lot of undrafted players weighing some very significant, potentially career-altering decisions.
On one hand, players could make their dreams to play professional baseball come true and accept the $20,000. On the other hand, if the decision doesn’t pan out, their baseball career could crash and burn before it has a chance to take off.
A one time $20,000 payment just isn’t a lot of money considering how little minor league players make and the atmosphere of cutting even that small amount of money. There are likely a handful of players who would have been drafted in rounds six and later who will just pass on that $20,000 in the hopes that things return to normal in 2021 and they can be signed at something closer to 2019 slot values. To put this in perspective, this article has those values for rounds six to ten. Spoiler alert: They are A LOT more than $20,000 a player. Let’s just put the Cubs values by round below:
Round 6 - $247,000
Round 7 - $194,400
Round 8 - $162,700
Round 9 - $149,800
Round 10 - $142,200
That’s a total of approximately $896,100 that has been replaced with a $100,000 line item for clubs. While I’m sure teams are thrilled to have cut their round six-ten expenses by 89 percent, I’m equally as sure players who are now faced with the decision of taking pennies on the dollar or waiting another year bear the weight of that cost savings.
It is just one more reminder that baseball is not just a business — it is a ruthless business. You and I may love baseball for the players, the game, the history and the stories, but as Karl Ravech so eloquently noted last night, the people who run the game do not feel the same:
"It's such a crime to have to stop romanticizing about something, stop loving something. But it has been sucked out of us, and it's constantly being done over the last month listening to these sides go back and forth." pic.twitter.com/DywQA7jcOF— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) June 12, 2020