Today I figured that, after staying up to hear confirmation that Pedro Alvarez had signed, I would write up a synopsis of the 2008 draft. But if you are reading this, Iím sure I wonít tell you anything you donít know. Pedro Alvarez was arguably the best talent in the draft, and the Pirates signed him to a reasonable $6 million bonus. The Pirates took a risk in drafting Tanner Scheppers in the second round, and did not sign him due to health concerns. They inked several talented high school players that had dropped due to signability concerns. That included sixth rounder Robbie Grossman, 16th rounder Wesley Freeman and 20th rounder Quinton Miller. Overall, the team signed eight of their top ten picks. They added both high-end talent and depth to the farm system.
But we know all that. Letís take a look at some of the other implications of the Alvarez signing and the draft class as a whole. First of all, this is another indication that Bob Nutting is willing to provide the funding necessary to field a winning team. Early reports have the Pirates as one of the top spenders in this yearís draft, something that was essential in order to replenish the minor leagues. Many fans will not be convinced about Nuttingís commitment to winning until the Major League payroll is increased to a competitive level. They will not be content until the Pirates lock up their young core (McLouth, Doumit, Maholm, etc.) and bring in top free agents when the time is right. The willingness to spend in this yearís draft is a good indication that there will be a greater financial commitment in the future.
Another way to look at the Alvarez signing is the reputation that management may have created. From what I can tell, the Pirates made the offer for $6 million and stuck to it. Scott Boras waited as long as he could, hoping the Pirates would cave, then agreed to the deal when the front office did not blink. It appears that the team used the same strategy with other draft picks as well. Management made what they felt were competitive offers to Scheppers and Justin Wilson, and told each that they would not budge. In the end, they stuck to their word. Wilson lowered his demands and signed. Scheppers did not.
It is possible that future draft picks and agents will notice this, and may come into negotiations with the knowledge that Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington are fair and straightforward negotiators. Obviously, Scott Boras likes to sit back and milk the trade deadline as much as possible. If the Pirates select one of his clients next year, is there a chance that Boras will encourage an early signing? He may have learned that Pirate management will not play games in the negotiation process.
Probably not. But itís interesting to think about.