A mystery team is rumored to be considering punting their first-round pick in the MLB Draft and hoping for a compensation pick in 2021 instead.
The 2020 MLB Draft is slated to begin on Wednesday evening, and all eyes are on Anaheim.
With the 10th overall pick in the first round and no second-round pick (forfeited for signing Anthony Rendon), the Los Angeles Angels have an interesting decision to make. They stand a chance to select an impact player that could become a corner of the franchise, but as we all know, the MLB Draft is a crap-shoot and sometimes the gamble doesn’t pay off. As such, there is a lot of pressure involved when a team makes their selection each year.
But what if the Angels are considering another route, one less traveled?
According to R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports, there are rumors that one team in the top-10 of the draft is considering “punting” their first pick. To do so, they would need to select a player that either they don’t intend to sign or potentially low-ball with a signing bonus offer at the minimum below slot. That team would then be awarded the same pick in next year’s draft as compensation.
Now, as you scroll through the comments on the tweet, you’ll see a lot of assumption that the mystery team is none other than the Angels. After all, Anaheim has made some frugal moves recently, including furloughing most of their minor league and scouting departments AHEAD of the draft. The team was also one of the last to announce how they would handle minor league pay in the wake of the Coronavirus-induced MiLB shutdown.
That all points to the speculation that the Angels could fit the mold of a said mystery team. However, such a move would surely be met with some scrutiny.
Firstly, the team would need to prove that it acted in good faith during negotiations in order to be awarded a compensation pick in 2021. That means that have to make an offer no less than 40% of slot value. As the 10th pick slot is valued at $4,739,900, the Angels (if they are the team in question) could offer as low as $1,895,960.
Secondly, there is really no incentive to do so. As JJ Cooper of Baseball America notes, the actual bonus dollars paid in 2020 will only be $100,000 with the remaining sum being deferred into equal payments in 2021 and 2022. Making this move in 2020 only further limits a draft class that will already be shrunken from 40 rounds to just five, and only four picks for the Angels. Of course, a team could spread that across their other picks and perhaps draft over slot for the remaining picks, but one could argue that you could get to the same spot by making those picks earlier.
We’ve seen in the past where teams have been called for not dealing in good faith. The Braves had a grievance filed against them by the MLBPA on behalf of 2018 first-round pick Carter Stewart. That case ended in arbitration, but the Braves came out on top and were awarded a compensation pick in 2019.
Given that this is simply a rumor and cannot be substantiated, one would have to hope that no team, including the Angels, would inhibit the team’s development this way or create the perception that they don’t deal in good faith with their prospects. That will only serve to hurt the game moving forward, up to and including in negotiations with future draft choices.
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Still, it will create an added layer of intrigue as the MLB Draft kicks off, and eyes will be firmly planted on the first round. Teams will have until August 1st to sign drafted players, so this is something that could certainly play out throughout the summer.
According to Taylor Blake Ward of LockedOnAngels, an Angels executive has stated that the rumors surrounding the team potentially punting their pick are false and that the team is not the magical mystery team mentioned above.