31 July 2018

Brad Brach Was Traded for the Equivalent of a 7th Rounder

Brad Brach was traded for permission, the permission to spend an extra 250k on international prospects.  No, this does not mean that the Braves sent the Orioles 250k to spend.  It means that the Braves reduced their allowed expenditure on foreign amateur talent under 23 years of age and the Orioles increased theirs.  This concept hopefully is familiar as the Orioles have discharged themselves of this permission to the tune of about 10 MM these past two years.

That leaves the question: What does 250k get you on the international market.  Back in the day (2011), I wrote a column for ESPN.  To save you the trouble of reading it, I was inspired to write it after thinking about how the Orioles under MacPhail explicitly noted that the market in Latin America was overpriced and was a foolish way to spend money.  Of course, that was a silly conclusion as available talent and access to that talent really meant that domestic amateurs were simply artificially compromised with their earning potential and that talent was less limited elsewhere.  Anyway, I came to the conclusion that 61 cents spent at home was equivalent to a dollar spent abroad.

So let us consider Miguel Sano from back then.  He signed for 3.15 MM.  My model conclusion would suggest that the same talent would be available then on the domestic front for 1.92 MM.  When Sano signed in 2009, selections were not assigned suggested values.  However if you extrapolate backwards from this current era of assigned value, you get Sano being worth about a mid first round pick.  Which is about what he was considered as at the time.

A comparison to now would be a player with the talent of Victor Victor Mesa.  He is considered being valuable in the same range, but his expected signing bonus is for 3.5 MM.  The cost per win during this last decade has more than doubled, suggesting that in a market without a bonus cap that Mesa should be looking for something in the neighborhood of 7 MM.  This evidences how much the cap has altered the landscape and that the 61 cent to one dollar comparison has narrow quite a bit.

In today's domestic draft, the level of talent we see in the draft that compares to Mesa may be as high as Travis Swaggerty (a 10th pick) or low as Trevor Larnach (a 20th pick), they came out as 4.4 and 2.5 MM respectively.  To expect Mesa to earn 3.5 MM, then we are expecting him to basically make what he would if he was in the draft.  A one to one comparison.

If that comparison holds true that somehow there is not much cost difference between domestic and international signing bonuses, then we might well assume that 250k would get the Orioles something on the level of a 7th round domestic pick talent.  Typically, that kind of prospect does not provide much return.  The last Oriole to see himself drafted there and making it to the big show is Caleb Joseph who was drafted back in 2008.  And, of course, the all time player the Orioles drafted in that round was Mike Flanagan in 1973.

All in all, it likely won't move the needle much, but it does help provide the Orioles with more opportunity to find a diamond in the rough.  After all, Jonathan Schoop cost less than 250k.

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