Braves Manipulation Strategy #2
I mentioned Puk’s interest for the Phillies in the discussion of the first strategy. This has opened up a scenario that has been discussed all over the internet, but the Braves are reportedly making calls to acquire compensation picks by taking on other teams’ bad contracts. This must mean the Braves seem to think they need a higher pool allotment. Why would this be?
The Phillies are nervous, and reportedly have been nervous the entire time if you believe some reports, about taking the top overall talent in the draft, New Jersey high school LHP Jason Groome, at the #1 slot. They’ve reportedly been higher on Kansas high school RHP Riley Pint if they go high school pitcher #1, not that a guy throwing 102 MPH is a bad option with the top pick.
The Reds have a director of player development in Terry Reynolds who has been with the organization as scouting director and higher since 2004. He has stated in multiple interviews over the years the importance of being “safe” in top 10 picks, and if you look at the picks he’s made when he’s been in the top 10, he took over after the Homer Bailey pick in 2004. Since that pick, every time the Reds have been in the top 10, they’ve gone after a college player. They’ve been highly linked to college hitting, specifically Corey Ray and Nick Senzel, so it’d be surprising to see them go after Groome.
That would place Groome, who many have considered a generational left-handed talent, right in the Braves’ lap at #3. The issue is that he knows that he’s the top-rated prospect in the draft in every rating system out there, and word is that he’d like to get #1 money or near-#1 money to sign if he’s not #1. That would indicate to me that the Braves need some more money as the #1 slot is worth a touch over $9M. That’s why you see them pursuing more collective bargaining picks as they are the only types of picks that are able to be traded.
The issue: the teams with those picks are either teams that are rebuilding like the Braves like the Reds or Rockies, place high emphasis on keeping draft picks like the Pirates, and teams that simply don’t have a “bad” contract to trade. There are two notable exceptions – the Oakland Athletics at #37 and the Arizona Diamondbacks at #39. The Athletics have a couple rough contracts they could move, most notably Billy Butler, who is owed $11.67M this year and next year, and possibly Jed Lowrie, who is owed $7.5M this year, $6.5M next year, and a $1M buyout of his 2018 option. The Diamondbacks don’t really have a bad contract to move really, unless they’ve soured on Yasmany Tomas, but the team obviously works well with the Atlanta front office, so there’s always that chance.
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