When the Brewers signed free agent Kyle Lohse, much was made about the team giving up its 17th overall pick to do so. The less-reported (and more damaging) penalty for signing a free agent attached to draft compensation, though, is the loss of pool money associated with the surrendered pick.
The Brewers gave up their first round pick to get Lohse, but they also forfeited $2.1 million from their own pool (and as a result, gave the Cardinals extra pool money, thanks to their new compensation pick at 28th overall). Today, we got a better picture on just how much the signing hurt the Brewers when it comes to this year’s draft, with Baseball America showing the draft bonus pools available to every team.
After signing Lohse, the Brewers’ pool is down to $3,944,600 to spend on 10 picks. That total — and the $394,000+ per pick average — rank third-to-last in the majors. Only the Angels (who signed Josh Hamilton) and the Nationals (who signed Rafael Soriano) have less to spend this year. The Astros, holding the top pick again, will have the most to spend, at nearly $1.2 million per pick.
The Brewers won’t have their first pick of the draft until 54th overall, thanks to the supplemental compensation round and the first round of Competitive Balance Lottery picks. Just for the sake of showing how bad the compensation system is, the Yankees will pick three times — all in the top 33 picks — before the Brewers make their first selection. They’ll make their second pick at 73rd overall in the second round of lottery picks, and their third pick will be made at #90.
It’s not like the Brewers can spend late to make up the difference, either. If they were to give any pick after the 10th round a bonus of $100,000 or more, that would also have to come out of the draft pool. The pool number isn’t necessarily a hard cap, but it might as well be — if a team goes 10% over budget, they’ll forfeit their first round pick the next season. If they’re 15% over, they lose both their first and second round picks the next year. Saying “screw the system” and going 20% means forfeiting your first round pick for the next two seasons.
Mark Attanasio showed faith in Bruce Seid & Co. to make good later-round picks in a recent Q&A with the Journal-Sentinel. If the Brewers are going to make significant gains in the farm system this year, they’re going to have to hit on those picks more than once.