Adrian Gonzalez, the 1st overall pick in the 2000 MLB draft by the Florida Marlins, looks to be headed to Boston in exchange for Casey Kelly, Reymond Fuentes and Anthony Rizzo. Both Kelly and Fuentes are also first rounders, in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Kelly recieved a $3 million dollar bonus, the same as Gonzalez, when he signed as a RHP/SS out of high school. Fuentes was not as highly touted out of high school and only commanded a $1.134 million dollar signing bonus. Anthony Rizzo was a sixth round draft pick in 2007. He signed for $325,000 and has progressed to the point where he is the best first base prospect in deep Red Sox system.
The Red Sox spent under $4.5 million dollars to sign these players after acquiring their rights in the draft. They have spent a few years in the minor leagues showing that they were worhty of such compensation and the value they returned in trade is one of the best first baseman in baseball. The players the Padres recieve will be under their control for a long time and will be solid players at a low cost. This is extremely valuable to a franchise that doesn't spend a lot of money at the major league level.
In other words, good players are valuable. Wow, really stating the obvious there. My point is that for a mere $4.5 million dollars invested in the draft, the Red Sox acquired sole rights to negotiate with Adrian Gonzalez and lock up an extremely valuable player without having to fight off the rest of the open market. They were able to do this because they drafted well and spent on talented players. The Red Sox farm system will not be majorly impacted by this trade because they drafted very well again this year, but I will cover that later. Many peope will see this as the rich getting richer, but I see it as the smart getting smarter. The Pittsburgh Pirates have recently decided to invest heavily in amateur talent, and it will pay off. I believe it will lead to turning around a franchise that hasn't had a winning season in nearly two decades. Small revenue teams can really level the playing field by acquiring more young, unproven talent in this way. The percentage of payoff for some of these players is low sometimes, but the return on the best players can set up a fantastic run, even for a small payroll team.
The value of amateurs is considerably less than it could be when you look at the value they hold when acquiring proven major league talent, even factoring the amount of failure that you see in prospects. Just as the amateurs are undervalued, the MLB Draft is very undervalued. Bringing this to light is one of my goals on this blog.