Thursday, July 22, 2010

j2, draft notes

From FWST Jeff Wilson:

The Texas Rangers have passed on the international signing period for now and have shifted that money in the budget to help fuel the big-league club's run toward the playoffs.

Assistant general manager Thad Levine said that the decision to forego signing prospects in Latin America was made a few months ago... While San Francisco picked up Molina's prorated salary and Seattle took on half of Lee's, the Rangers must pay contract incentives the players can reach. Those will be covered by money that had been budgeted for international prospects.

"We wanted to do everything in our power to augment what is already a strong 25-man roster," Levine said. "Moving ahead with Lee and moving ahead with Molina, it's a willing tradeoff."

The budget to sign players selected in the First-Year Player Draft has not been altered, and the Rangers continue to negotiate with the high-priority players they hope to sign.

So in the end, TX decided not to enter the j2 market as early as April or May it seems. This seems contrary to all the reports that this year's budget remained unaffected by the sale proceedings. Maybe they made the decision around the time that it appeared that the sale was going to drag on into the summer. Whatever the case, the explanation doesn't seem fully satisfactory as TX supposedly had the following things budgeted for the year: draft signings, j2 signs, trade acquisitions. Those budgets were set it, or so we were led to believe, including, despite what Levine intimates, player bonuses.

So it could be that MLB slapped more restrictions on any outgoing money from the club, or perhaps, TX is playing it really conservative, keeping all of their discretionary funds for further player acquisitions even if they are unlikely to occur, both at the deadline and in August during the waiver process. The latter seems the most likely explanation, and could still leave some room to sign some j2 kids at the end of August or in September if they don't have to take on much money in trades or need to use any additional monies to sign Jackson, Buckle, Grimm, Tepesch and perhaps a couple others to over slot bonuses greater than they budgeted.

Just a word about the j2 issue. I would much rather have us sign all of the high ceiling draft prospects than a high ceiling j2 guy almost 100% of the time if it came to that. j2 guys are highly unlikely to succeed unless they are super-star caliber players and there really aren't in in this j2 crop it seems. In addition, TX did something last year and this spring that it has never done before in the history of the club; it signed a j2 kid for a 7 figure salary. Not only did they sign one, they signed three kids and got a few steals like Payano and Perez so the talent on last season's j2 class is greater than at any other time than say back when they signed Font and a truckload of guys, so about 10 years. And finally, TX appears to have hit upon quite a few of its low six-figure signs from 2008 (T-Mart, Chirino, Villa, Herrera) so the current bounty of international prospects in our system has never been greater. If there was a year to sit out the j2 process this would be the year (terrific signings the last 2 years, weaker j2 class) and I'm ok with that. All it would take to make people forget about it next year would be to reel in a 3 million $ stud power-hitting OF and a new owner just might drop that kind of coin.

A word about draft signings. There has been some teeth-gnashing about some of he unsigned guys but July is always a signing void every year. I fully expect TX to sign Jackson, Buckel, Grimm, Tepesch and maybe a couple of other HS kids. Losing Beavan, Smoak and Main will only add to the determination to get those deals done by the deadline.

UPDATE: Ben Badler just updated his top j2 bonus list and this year already has 4 signings of at least 2 million (with Peguero and Heredia still unsigned) compared to last year when there were 3, though 2 of them were for 3.2 million (Sano, Sanchez). So some teams _do_ seem to think that there are some star-caliber players in this j2 class. Only time will tell.


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