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2020 MLB Draft Prep: Do teams want to win, or build wealth retention?

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Teams are letting scouts go and they could reap benefits from hiring more, instead of just being cheap.

Photo by Jim Sugar/Corbis via Getty Images

Whether on blogs or talk radio, much of discussion is what owners should do with their money; their investment. To an extent, constructive criticism seems appropriate. However, far-too-many people seem to jump from casual fandom to financial gurus in one rather quick step. For instance, to say that the Ricketts family is "going cheap" because Kris Bryant (or whoever) hasn't been extended would seem to disregard that the Cubs have been top five spenders in payroll for most of the last few seasons. Yes, they should be. No, it doesn't seem "cheaping out" applies for not signing (for instance) Bryce Harper.

This cycle's draft will consist of only five rounds, with no apparent place for any selected players to be assigned, regardless. Next year's draft is expected to ricochet back to 20 rounds. Owners have decided they want to allow team executives far less leeway than they were allowed in 2019 and before for adding talent after the 10th round. With each team losing minor league affiliates, they won't need, or be allowed, as many roster spots. Along with players being released, and front office personnel being furloughed, it's not unreasonable at all to expect a string of scout firings after the draft choices are all accounted for.

This cycle, teams are upset at how few looks they had at eligible players. To me, there are two realistic options. Hire more scouts, realizing the value that extra information provides. Or, fall in line with the mindset that winning is less important than wealth retention. I don't realistically see a third path.

Edgertronic computers are better at determining "spin rate" than the human eye. That's tough to argue. However, having good computer numbers is only pertinent if the player goes through the minor league affiliate levels, which are being reduced. Owners seem more charged up by purging roster spots than adding players not signed in the draft.

I don't have any real numbers, but I'd imagine a scout could be added, including salary, benefits, and expenses, for around $100,000 per year. Probably less than that, but let's go with 100 K. If an owner would scoop up 10 or 1 of th2e better ones likely to be released, and gets 30 games of exposure from each, his team's organization ought to be able to (eventually) get a few wins-above from the investment. This could be by selecting better talent that plays at the MLB level, or gets traded for those who do. Sadly, I doubt this is what will primarily happen. Whenever an owner is interviewed, whether wealth-retention or winning is more important ought to be a discuss- able issue, with banter back and forth, to that end.

Wealth retention is the goal. I'm setting up my little booth and folding chair. Feel free to debate it. For ownership, wealth retention is the goal. Either make your case that it isn't, or don't be surprised when teams prioritize staying under certain specific financial markers, instead of upgrading the team. Teams should have learned the value of scouts. Fans, the value of wealth-retention to ownership.