Getting about 2 of the top 10 prospects is about what I would expect. 5+ years ago bonuses were larger because there were no hard limits that are now in place, so it is hard to do a comparison with draft bonuses. The last couple years is a fairer comparison and we are not seeing the top 10 get $3 million plus bonuses as a rule. There are close to 10 bonuses this year in the $2 million plus range and then the next 5-10 are more averaging $1.2 million to $1.6 million. In the draft there were 36 slots at $2 million plus and then 13 more (49 total) at $1.5 million.
Getting back to the top 10, would we expect more than 6 of the top 30 draft picks in any one draft to be significant prospects or players 4-6 years later? Probably yes. But I am not sure we would expect 10-15 of them (the equivalent of having 3-5 significant prospects out of a Latin American top 10) to be good.
Stepping back, one could say:
- International signings are riskier per dollar than draft signings simply because the players are younger and have more variability in outcome.
- But also more top dollar signings succeed (and become stars) than mid-level dollar signings
- There is more value in low dollar signings internationally probably because you can sign tools cheaply and teach them to play in a way that older prospects in the U.S. get identified and taught in HS before they get drafted. But a strategy of pure low dollar signings will most likely lack stars and introduce development issues in identifying the better prospects over time
Which leads me to my strategy of:
- Spend to the max (and trade for more since international dollars produce more WAR per dollar than spending it on major league free agents
- Strive to get a half dozen good talents. Compete for the best, but walk away and sign 2 mid-level guys if a top guy gets too expensive.
- Don't be scared of a big development system with lots of low cost signings, but also understand that the priority each year should be placed on the half dozen or so best prospects at each level. (this is where I disagree with the 538 article to some degree and Houston might be doing what they do because they are a little cash limited).
In an ideal world we should trade for allocations and spend $7-$8 million each year. Get one $1 million plus player, 5 more $500K players, and lots of $100K players. We also need to be aggressive early. I think we overpaid on Gessner last year because he was the only talent out there that would sign at the end. So we made sure we got him but probably could have done something better with $850K at the beginning of the period.
And we probably should move all this to the 2019 international thread....