Yesterday saw something happen that could alter how the Major League Baseball draft rules are set up moving forward. Carter Stewart, the 2018 Major League Baseball drafts #8 overall selection, has signed a 6-year contract with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan. The deal is worth more than $7M according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.
There’s a lot of stuff to get to here. First is the fact that Major League Baseball is losing talent to Japan and that probably isn’t what they want to be happening. But the reason why it is happening, is a bit of a mess. Carter Stewart was drafted and unsigned last year. He went 8th overall to the Braves, who offered him 40% of the slot value after there were medical concerns over his wrist. Rather than accept that, Stewart enrolled in junior college at Eastern Florida State so he could be draft eligible again this year.
His stuff took a step back this year, and there were still concerns about his wrist. Depending on where you look, he’s being rated as somewhere between the 30th and 60th best prospect in this draft. That’s still a 1st/2nd round caliber pick, so it’s not nothing. But rather than the $5M bonus slot at #8 last year (he was offered $2M by the Braves – the minimum they could offer him while still getting the pick this year if he chose not to sign), he’s looking at something more like $800,000-$2,000,000 depending on where he would go in that range.
Let’s now look at how things go with his current deal. He is under contract with the Hawks through his age 25 season. He’ll make “more than $7M”, though let’s assume it is going to be less than $8M. It’s going to be very tough for him to match that through his age 25 season playing stateside. At best, he’d spend the next two seasons in the minor leagues. Making less than $10,000 a year. Then he’d be making the league minimum, less than $800,000 per year for the first three years of his big league time. And then he’d be 25. At that point he’d had made, in this best case scenario, less than $5M, including his signing bonus from this years draft. And of course he’d still be under team control, going to the arbitration process for three years to follow.
But by signing this deal to play in Japan, he’ll be getting $7M+, and then he will become a free agent at 25 and be eligible to sign with a Major League Baseball team for whatever they are willing to pay him. With teams playing service time games, and now also seemingly being unwilling to pay players who are going to be 30 or older, becoming a free agent in your mid-20’s seems to be the only way to get paid and this could certainly be the way to do it.
When you couple this move, along with the loss of Kyler Murray to the NFL, many are speculating that it’s going to lead to Major League Baseball is going to have to add more to the draft bonus pools to try and keep more players from going this route. Going to Japan, or at least threatening the idea isn’t something that many players will be able to do. But there probably will be 5-10 a year who could try to use it as leverage, much like a high school draft pick tries to use the option of going to college as leverage to get more money.
Brian O’Grady homers twice for Louisville
The Triple-A leagues are seeing unprecedented home run totals in 2019. The switch to the Major League Baseball is leaving pitchers in both the International and Pacific Coast Leagues hating everything about their lives, mostly. The Major League Baseball is juiced, or plays like it is. There are some differences between it and the old (or current minor league baseball that’s used at the other levels of the minors).
Some guys have taken advantage of the new baseball. Brian O’Grady broke out in 2018. It started in Pensacola last season, and carried into Louisville in the second half. From the start of June through the end of last season, O’Grady hit .305/.372/.559 in 71 games played between Double-A and Triple-A. This season, he’s carried that forward, and with some possible help from the new baseball, he’s taken it to an entirely different level.
Louisville played a morning game, kicking things off at 11am. The game was over quickly, but not before Brian O’Grady hit two home runs. That leaves his line through 34 games played for the Bats this season at .320/.407/.672 with 10 doubles and 11 home runs. Dating back to June 1st of last year he’s hitting .310/.382/.599 with 16 steals.
Reds transaction madness
There has been a whole lot of roster movement in the last 24 hours on the farm. Let’s break down what’s happened so far:
- Alex Powers promoted from Chattanooga to Louisville.
- Alberti Chavez promoted from Chattanooga to Louisville.
- Wendoyln Bautista promoted from Daytona to Chattanooga.
- Carlos Machorro promoted from Dayton to Daytona.
- Michael Byrne placed on the 7-day injured list in Daytona.
- Moises Nova promoted from “Billings” to Dayton.
- Dylan Harris promoted from “Billings” to Dayton.
- Andrew McDonald promoted from extended spring training to Dayton.
- Alexis Diaz placed on the 7-day injured list in Dayton.
There are other moves coming, but they aren’t official yet.