Cardinals Draft strategy: By the numbers

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Later today, the Cardinals are expected to announce the signing of fourth-round pick and LSU second baseman Mason Katz, who signed his contract in Louisiana on Thursday. That will make Katz the 35th draftee signed by the Cardinals, who made 41 selections in the 40-round Draft. With Katz signed, there is also increasing clarity in how much financial flexibility the Cardinals still have as they finish up the signing process. Before getting to all the specific numbers, let’s engage in a quick refresher on what these numbers mean.

The Cardinals were assigned a Draft pool of $6.9079 million to spend, as desired, on all picks taken in the first 10 rounds. The signing bonuses for players taken after the 10th round do not count against that pool unless one receives a signing bonus in excess of $100,000. When that is the case, the difference in the overage is subtracted from the pool of funds.

For those wondering where in the world the $6.9079 million figure comes from, remember that each pick from round one through round 10 is assigned a “slot” value. The summation of those “slot” values determines a team’s final money pool.

Going over that allowance is costly. If a club goes over by 0-5 percent, it incurs a 75 percent tax on the overage. If a club goes over by more than 5 percent, the club will begin losing Draft picks. The Cardinals have no interest in losing future picks, so they will not go over their $6.9079 million fund by more than 5 percent. Not in any circumstance. However, the organization showed last year that it is willing to incur the tax associated with going slightly over budget if that means landing high-ceiling players that otherwise would not be willing to sign.

So let’s take a look at the numbers. Below you will see the slot value assigned for each of the Cardinals’ top 11 picks, as well as how much each signed for and how that compared to slot. That then allows us to calculate how much flexibility the Cardinals still have as they try to finish negotiations with those still unsigned.

Round Player Slot Bonus Saving (overage)
1 Marco Gonzales $2,055,800 $1,850,000 $205,800
1 Robert Kaminsky $1,785,300 $1,785,300 0
2 Oscar Mercado $971,400 $1,500,000 ($528,600)
3 Mike Mayers $557,900 $510,000 $47,900
4 Mason Katz $405,100 $95,000 $310,100
5 Ian McKinney $303,300 $227,100 $76,200
6 Jimmy Reed $227,100 $40,000 $187,100
7 Christopher Rivera $170,300 $150,000 $20,300
8 Andrew Pierce $153,300 $10,000 $143,300
9 Nick Petree $143,100 $40,000 $103,100
10 Malik Collymore $135,300 $275,000 ($139,700)
6,907,900 6,482,400

With $6.4824 million spent in these first 10 rounds, the Cardinals have an excess of $425,500 in their Draft pool. Now, we have to account for those picks from the 11th round on who earned a signing bonus of more than $100,000. Those include:

12 Ricardo Bautista $100,000 $150,000 ($50,000)
15 DeAndre Asbury $100,000 $150,000 ($50,000)

That reduces the Cardinals’ remaining Draft pool to $325,500. As I mentioned earlier, the Cardinals are willing to go over their $6.9079 million Draft pool by up to 5 percent. That would add another $345,500 worth of available funds, giving the Cardinals remaining monetary flexibility of $671,000.

The organization has one key target left on the board and that is right-hander Steven Farinaro. Though Farinaro was not selected until the 11th round, the Cardinals view him as having second/third-round talent. He dropped because of perceived signing bonus demands. But the Cardinals now have the money to make him a second/third-round type offer. The organization can offer as much as $771,000 (remember, the first $100,000 of that does not count against the cap) without risking going over its Draft pool by more than 5 percent. The organization expects that to be enough to get Farinaro (a UCLA commit) to sign. A resolution with Farinaro is likely to come well before the July 12 signing deadline.

So there’s your Draft money 101 lesson of the day. And proof that a journalist is capable of sometimes doing math.

**

On a side note, I am now off for a week of vacation, so the blog and my Twitter account will go dark until I pop up in Oakland next Friday. You’ll still have plenty of content on cardinals.com, and I’ve left behind an Inbox to run on Monday. Several of the reader questions I received will be answered in that piece.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

4 Comments

Most useful thing I’ve read today. Thanks.

why would someone who’s primary job is to follow and write about a baseball team take a week’s vacation during the season.

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