As the MLB draft rolls around each June, teams begin to wonder about their prospective players. They try to seek out the best talent at their respective pick, meshing talent and makeup to form some sort of rankings system.
Baseball America ranks the Top 100 Prospects in the nation for all to see, but teams often grade prospects on different attributes, such as Carlos Correa, who was slotted at No. 7 by Baseball America, but was drafted No. 1 overall by the Houston Astros.
This all seems like a very simple process, but the hardest part of the draft does not lie in the R&D of the scouting department.
Although a team can draft a player, the hardest part behind the draft is the "signability" of a player. For example, the San Diego Padres selected Karsten Whitson with the ninth overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft but he had already committed to the University of Florida, so the Padres ended up without a first-round pick in 2010.
So before teams start to fill out their "big boards," they factor in talent, signability and slot value.
Slot value, to those who don't know, is a specific value set for each pick in the draft. Commissioner Bud Selig and his committee decide the value for the No. 1 overall pick and then the value of each pick afterwards decreases by a certain percentage. If this sounds complicated, here is a visual aid with the 2012 slot values.
After determining what each pick is worth, the MLB totals the value of a team's top 10 picks and assigns each team a draft budget. So whenever a team says that a player is "above slot value," they are essentially saying that a player is asking for more money than his slotted value.
While this doesn't seem like a bad thing for the big teams with cash (Yes, New York and Boston, I'm looking at you), the severity of spending above the budget for the draft is immense.
Quoted from the 2012 MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement:
a. Each Club will be assigned an aggregate Signing Bonus Pool prior to each draft. For the purpose of calculating the Signing Bonus Pools, each pick in the first 10 rounds of the draft has been assigned a value. (These values will grow each year with the rate of growth of industry revenue.) A Club’s Signing Bonus Pool equals the sum of the values of that Club’s selections in the first 10 rounds of the draft. Players selected after the 10th round do not count against a Club’s Signing Bonus Pool if they receive bonuses up to $100,000. Any amounts paid in excess of $100,000 will count against the Pool.
b. Penalties for exceeding the Signing Bonus Pool are:
Excess of Pool Penalty - (Tax on Overage/Draft Picks)
* 0-5% - 75% tax on overage
* 5-10% - 75% tax on overage and loss of 1st round pick
* 10-15% - 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st and 2nd round picks
* 15%+ - 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st round picks in next two drafts
So when a player has "signability" issues, the team is either worried about the player's individual college commitment or the money.
Either way, it is difficult to make both sides happy. With that in mind, here are five players that are highly unlikely to sign with their respective teams.