But here's my best-case(within reason) scenario: a) Signing picks 1-10 with the exception of Kenny Diekroeger or Derek Dennis; I'll think they'll sign one of those two. b) Signing picks 11-20 with the exception of Jacob Partridge or Dylan Floro. Realistically neither of those two will sign, but this is best-case. And then one of the HS pitcher trio in the 21-25 range(Swilley, Peterson, Heaney) and one in the 26-30 range(Jensen or Wager). Any signing besides the college seniors in round 30+ would be gravy.So. The Rays didn't sign first-rounder Levon Washington and they didn't sign Kenny Diekroeger or Derek Dennis. They did sign Jacob Partridge, but didn't sign 15th rounder Pierce Johnson(to my eternal chagrin). They signed one of the 21-25 range guys(Matt Swilley) and Marcus Proctor. And they didn't sign anyone unexpected past the 30th round, which isn't a surprise.
They didn't hit my best-case scenario, and I would argue that they didn't do better than an average job overall. It's not breaking news that signing picks 1 and 2 isn't good. The obvious consequence is that the Rays failed to add two pretty high-ceiling players to their system. True, the Rays will get compensation picks for not signing those two in the 2010 draft, but that creates a whole new set of problems.
First of all, Tampa Bay will now have four draft picks in the first two rounds(assuming they don't lose or sign a type-A free agent). However, the compensation picks aren't protected, meaning that if the players drafted with those picks don't sign, the Rays lose them forever. That means that almost certainly they'll have to pick players who aren't a risk to not sign, which generally means low-ceiling college players. Just for fun, picks 31 and 79(the picks the Rays will have next year) slot money this season is $972,000 and 457,000, respectively(combined 1.429 million). Slot recommendations from 2009 were slashed from 2008 though, and it's possible that it'll return to 2008 level in 2010, meaning we're talking closer to 1.7 million. And it's wholly unlikely that the talent level of those picks would match Washington/Diekroeger(for example, the Nationals failed to sign Aaron Crow and wound up taking a college reliever with their compensation picks).
Of course, in addition to those the Rays will have their regular 1st and 2nd round picks, which would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million dollars in slot money. The problem is that because the Rays are basically stuck giving out 1.7 million to the compensation picks, their draft budget may not allow them to take over-slot possibilities with their regular picks, meaning they're likely getting worse talent. And unless they decide to spend a lot more on the draft, they probably won't be taking any risks in rounds 3-10 like they did this year with Jeff Malm, Kevin James, Luke Bailey, and Todd Glaesmann. So they're looking at reduced talent in those rounds, too. And if their draft budget does increase enough to go over-slot a few times next year, the obvious question is: Why didn't they spend that money this year?
So despite all the picks next year, I'm already a little bit worried. But back to this year. In regards to Levon Washington, right after the draft he couldn't have been more excited to have been taken by the Rays. He seemed ready to sign right away. What happened? Well, Scott Boras happened. With him as Washington's advisor, there was little chance of a deal getting done early. But still, if he wanted to sign, what stopped a deal from getting done today? This afternoon, Andrew Friedman said the Rays "put up an offer that was consistent with a late first-round pick." So presumably they offered slot or slightly more.
A few questions here. Did they ever offer Washington over-slot money? Did he tell them before the draft he wasn't seeking over-slot money? Did the scout who talked with Washington not do his homework? Or did he decide after he was drafted he wanted more money? The complicating factor with Washington is his injured shoulder. The apparent reason Friedman was able to declare talks dead this afternoon was because they would run him through a physical before deciding what kind of money to offer. Now I don't know if Boras dragged his feet on this, but it seems like they should have been able to get a physical done in time to negotiate until the final hour.
With regards to 2nd rounder Kenny Diekroeger, I'm even more confused. Before the draft, he told a newspaper he was "definitely going to Stanford." He was a good student whose family is pretty well-off(meaning the money may not have been a huge factor) with a scholarship to Stanford, a notoriously tough place to sign high schoolers away from. Realistically, he was never more than a 50/50 shot to sign, and even that's pushing it. That's a pretty big risk to take with your second round pick, even with compensation, since in all likelihood you're getting worse talent with the comp pick.
The other thing here is that 15th rounder Pierce Johnson and 20th rounder Dylan Floro didn't sign. Now, I don't know what kind of money either was asking for, but once it became evident that Washington and Diekroeger weren't going to sign, couldn't the Rays have taken some money they had set aside for those two and offered it to one of Johnson/Floro(or 10th rounder Derek Dennis, but he was never a serious candidate to sign). Last season, the Rays spent over 7.5 million dollars on Tim Beckham and Kyle Lobstein alone. This year, they barely spent half of that on the entire draft. Obviously Beckham commanded a large bonus being taken #1 overall, but if they investing 6.15 in just him, couldn't they invest that same kind of money to sign a whole group of players: Glaesmann, Bailey, Malm, James, Johnson, Floro?
It's not a system-killer that the Rays didn't sign Washington or Diekroeger. Quite frankly I think Bailey/Malm/Glaesmann may be the better prospects anyway. But it certainly hurts, and for a team like the Rays, it's imperative that they get the most out of the draft. Last year, the Yankees failed to sign their top two picks. But they 1) have a boatload of money, so could draft a high-ceiling guy(Slade Heathcott) and pay him whatever it took with the compensation picks and 2) knew they would be active in free agency, so the comp picks were their only picks in those two rounds. The Rays don't have those luxuries. They won't be getting comparable talent with their extra picks next season, and merely having extra picks to pay could hurt the rest of the class they draft. That's why failing to get deals done hurts.
[Quick Update] This article says that 20th rounder Dylan Floro wanted 450,000 and the Rays only offered 280,000. Assuming that Pierce Johnson was in a similar spot, I'm extremely disappointed the Rays didn't spend an extra 350,000 or so to bring in two more players, especially considering Floro was a possible supplemental 1st rounder/2nd rounder entering the season.