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The mind goes to strange and dangerous places on Draft Day.

For example … I see a simple Peter Gammons tweet about the Cubs not knowing who to pick at No. 2:

But my mind wanders to the second part of that tweet. And then I see this follow-up from Keith Law:

And then I start doing some mental math.

Let’s imagine that the Astros are planning to take Jonathan Gray or Colin Moran, the two most frequently rumored picks at the top. That leaves the Cubs to take Mark Appel or Kris Bryant, right? And everyone seems to think the Cubs will take Appel in that scenario, and I certainly wouldn’t complain.

But if the Rockies aren’t going to take Bryant, as everyone assumed they would, might the Cubs have a little leverage with Bryant that they don’t have with Appel? The Twins pick fourth, and no one seems to have them taking Bryant. So, Bryant would fall at least to the Indians at five, where the slot value is just $3.787 million.

In this scenario, the Cubs could tell Bryant: look, we’ll take you at two if you agree to sign at $4 million, which is probably more than you’ll get if we pass on you.

If there’s no deal to be had with Appel, he’s going to want full slot (or more), which could approach $7 million.

So, it might be fair to ask: would you rather have Mark Appel for $7 million, or Kris Bryant for $4 million (with all the saved money to spend later in the Draft)?

  • Kyle

    If I prefer Appel over Bryant even a little bit, then I’d rather have him at $7 million than Bryant at $4 million.

    • JB88

      I’m actually surprised that is your perspective. Particularly if the extra $3MM means another 1-2 overslot signings.

      For me, though, I’ve come firmly into the Mark Appel camp and it isn’t really close, so I don’t know that Bryant + $3MM would really do it for me as it stands.

      • Kyle

        Don’t care about overslots, to be honest. They are severely overrated.

        Yes, you can get back-of-the-first-round talent in the 2nd round. So what? Back-of-the-first-round-talent doesn’t mean that much to me, to be honest. Getting the top pick right is everything.

        • ETS

          Really, I think most would argue that scouts make all their money after the first round. Having extra ammunition to get quality throughout the depths of the draft isn’t a bad thing.

          That said, you are probably right about people “overrating” the advantage that gives.

          I am in/have been in the Appel camp for some time now. I think I’d take appeal at 7 rather than bryant at 4.

          • Kyle

            Scouts can get paid for wherever they like, the vast majority of impact talent is found at the tip-top. After that, it’s just 39 poo-flingings at a wall.

            • ETS

              Is there a study of front office total WAR on picks 2-40? I’d love to see it. I’m not disagreeing with you at all Kyle; I am genuinely curious if there are scouting departments that are better in later rounds.

              • hansman1982

                I’d say this front office is good at finding good talent at the back part of the draft.

                Now, with that said, if you are thinking that Bryant will provide 9 WAR over his career and Appel will provide 10 WAR but you are confident you will be able to make up that extra WAR later in the draft, I’d say go for it.

                With that said, I love Appel.

                • Stevie B

                  You’re comparing Appels to oranges here my friend….

                  chuckle….been waiting a while to do this …..

                  • DarthHater

                    You waited far too long…

                  • scorecardpaul

                    or some would say… u didn’t wait long enough

        • WGNstatic

          I completely agree agree with Kyle. It seems to me that folks have become so set on somehow gaming the system that they lose the forest for the trees.

          At the SI site today there is a rundown on drafts over the last 20 years and the productivity by each slot. Here is a link to a graph that shows a similar idea:

          http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-changing-value-of-draft-picks/

          Here is the take away message, the value of picks falls quickly from the #1 through 10, then really starts to level off into the 20′s. Basically, the difference between a “slot” second rounder and late-first rounder who slipped, is not as great as the difference between the #2 and the #5 or so picks, on average. Obviously there is a lot of noise in these analyses, and certainly any extra $$ that can be reallocated for later in the draft is a good thing.

          But… The notion of intentionally taking a lesser player @#2 would be quite foolish.

          • JB88

            If this argument is really taking place within the FO, it means that people don’t think Bryant is “a lesser player.” If things are equal and Bryant and Appel are a legit 1A and 1B on the Cubs’ board, then saving $3M to reapply elsewhere in the draft is an important consideration.

            • WGNstatic

              Absolutely. If two guys are equal, and one is cheaper, then obviously you save the $. And, even more clearly, if the top player is cheaper and not one of the consensus top picks, you take the guy you think is best, consensus be damned. I don’t pretend to have an opinion on who the Cubs should draft or who is has a better shot at becoming the best player.

              I haven’t seen any of them play, and even if I had, it wouldn’t matter since I certainly haven’t seen enough comparable players in the past play to build any sort of basis for projection.

        • mak

          Agree with you Kyle. Look back to 2011, when the Cubs went over-slot crazy. A lot of those signings look good: Maples, Vogelbach. Others probably won’t have any impact: Dunston, Gretzky, many others. I want the best impact player at 1.2.

        • Mick

          Since when did Bryant become a back of the 2nd round talent? In fact, the whole premise of this argument is concluding that Appel will be the better MLBer than Kris Bryant. I’m actually a little concerned with Appel’s velocity and how it will translate at the MLB level which is why I’d prefer Gray due to his triple digit velocity. But, if Gray is gone than I’d much rather prefer Bryant at a cost savings since I believe he’ll be the better MLBer plus the over-slot players we could draft later on.

          • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

            You’re concerned about the mid 90′s velocity of Appel?

          • Kyle

            No one said anything of the sort about Bryant.

            It was all hypothetical to liking Appel more. If you like Bryant more, then Bryant at $7m is better than Appel at $4.

          • Mick

            I couldn’t find a whole season’s worth of average velocity but did find the stats for his early-May start against ASU.

            56 fastballs, 50 %, 93.36 MPH average

            34 changeups, 30.36 %, 82.97 MPH average.

            22 sliders, 19.6 %, 85.27 MPH average.

            I found this info from: http://irfast.blogspot.com/2013/05/charting-mark-appel.html

            If someone else has found his season’s stats for average pitch velocity, please share.

            • Patrick

              His change is her best out pitch, he doesn’t need a over powering heater just something hard enough to set up the change… 93-95 will be fine! I want Appel in the northside!

      • sdcoddi

        You wouldn’t want Bryant AND a guy like Stanek or Manaea instead of Appel? and extra $3M is money for another top 10 pick

        • BluBlud

          That’s my thinking. If the Cubs can get Bryant at $4 million, maybe then they can draft Manea(if he slips), give him $4 million also, and maybe have 2 top talents in one draft.

        • SenorGato

          That couldn’t be less appealling. Stanek will be taken in the first 15 anyway, and Manaea is too injured to consider passing on the top talent for.

          OTOH I might like Manaea at 41 if he falls there. He would need to be brought along slowly and almost definitely should go back to school.

        • Kyle

          No, I wouldn’t. Don’t forget, you still get your second-round pick even without underslotting.

          And you aren’t really going to get top-10 talent. It’ll be back of the first round talent, usually, with significant question marks.

          • sdcoddi

            That sounds like the Cubs FO…pick up players who should be ranked higher, but have significant question marks (health-wise, not character-wise). It’s one of the few ways to take advantage of the market.

            • Noah

              There’s a difference between doing that on free agents and doing that on draft picks. On free agents the advantage is that you can sign a player who could otherwise have access to long term, big money commitments for significantly under market. For draft picks, they either have to make a Major League team or be someone who can be traded for talent that makes the Major Leagues to have real value.

              If the free agent doesn’t pan out, your only lost opportunity cost is the money. If the draft pick doesn’t work out, you also lose the opportunity cost of the pick.

              You also have to consider the incentives of the draftee. Manea, for example, has high incentives to go back to school and show what he can do while healthy if he’s going to slip to the second round. A free agent who is facing injury questions can’t just sit out of professional baseball for a year without jeopardizing their whole career.

    • BluBlud

      I prefer Bryant over Appel. So if the difference is 3 million, then it’s a no brainer. You take Bryant. He is the better player, IMO. So if you can get the better player for almost half the price, shouldn’t you do it. The question is, who do the Cubs think is better.

      • ETS

        well, I still think the stros go with either bryant or gray. So the question is who is still left that the cubs think is better.

        • JulioZuleta

          Bryant’s bat speed, or lack thereof, scares the hell out of me. I’m no scout, so when I can see that a guy’s bat is quite a bit slower than some other guys, it scares me.

          • ncsujuri

            Could it just be that he sees pitches better and doesn’t actually have a slow bat, just things come easier to him? I may be wrong but dude hit 30+ HR’s this year, that wouldn’t indicate a slow bat to me.

            • JulioZuleta

              Power doesn’t only come from a fast bat. However, power that isn’t accompanied by good bat speed is more likely to disappear as the level of competition increases. I guess I don’t get what you mean, or how seeing pitches better would mean he doesn’t have a slow bat.

      • hansman1982

        Well, Assman thinks that the FO thinks that Appel is better.

    • David

      This.

      Give me the best talent. It’s hard enough to hit on a draft pick.

    • DarthHater

      I don’t entirely agree. I would compare two values:

      (A) the marginal incremental value of Appel over Bryant

      (B) ((the value of the overslot guy I could draft if I pick Bryant discounted by the probability of his ever being a ML contributor) minus (the value of the guy I could draft if I pick Appel discounted by the probability of his ever being a ML contributor)

      If (A) is greater than (B), I’d pick Appel. If not, I’d pick Bryant.

      (Begin countdown to Kyle responding that the probability of either later guy being a significant player is so small that A will always be greater than B…)

      • sclem21

        Yea, I was slow…didnt see this already posted. My bad

      • WGNstatic

        I completely agree Darth, but, I would agree with the notion that you expect Kyle to respond with…

        I posted a link above to fangraphs. Basically, it looks to me like the difference between an overslot pick and a slot pick is likely to be less (in terms of talent and projectability) than the difference between the 2nd and 3rd picks in the draft. Of course if the Cubs value Bryant and Appel equally and one will sign for less by all means.

      • Kyle

        Your countdown has reached zero.

        • DarthHater

          I love when I can be at least partly right, in spite of the fact that Kyle is always right.

          • Kyle

            The coattails of the Crushing Fist of Logic are long, like a woman’s slender wrist.

    • sclem21

      I think I agree with you especially at the top of the draft. The risk is so significant that you oughta just get ‘your’ guy.

      The flipside would be if I like Bryant + Player X > Appel.

      Like Correa + McCullers (+Ruiz) > Appel (or Buxton, etc. etc.)

      • Kyle

        I think the Astros really screwed the pooch on taking Correa+McCullers over Buxton. Once the end of the year lists hit and the pundits catch on to the Buxton hype, more people will realize that.

        • sclem21

          Someone at BP posted about this yesterday and Jason Parks basically broke it down to:

          If Correa is Olajuwon no one will 2nd guess them missing Michael Jordan…if Correa is Sam Bowie…then yea they are screwed.

          Buxton is destroying in Quad Cities but Correa is doing pretty well for level/age, too. I agree with you except that I think it goes well beyond this year before we can make any definitive conclusion.

          But, yea, if they had Buxton over Correa on their board and went with Correa to get McCullers (who could very well end up a reliever) then its a mistake that will hurt for a long, long time.

          Cubs should not want to take on that risk, which I think is part of what you are getting at and the part I most agree with.

          • Kyle

            That’s about the fourth time this week that BP has written an article I’m interested in. I might just have to fork over the $4.95.

            • DarthHater

              Wouldn’t that involve opening the crushing fist?

            • Jacob

              I recommend BP.. it’s filled with awesomeness.

          • JB88

            sclem21, do you have a link to that BP piece you mentioned? TIA.

    • SenorGato

      So glad this was throw post I saw. Give me Appel at 7 as well. I really, really, really am disturbed by the idea ofngoing cheap in the draft. Its just.not how the MLB draft works.

      • SenorGato

        First post*

      • BT

        The idea isn’t to save money to line their pockets. The idea is to use the money saved on picks down the line to get better prospects.

        • DarthHater

          Breath officially wasted. ;-)

  • Rich

    think that depends on are you trading Garza and others at the deadline. IF yes that I take Appel. If you plan on extending Garza , then you could take Bryant…

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      What we do with Garza has no bearing on what we do today. Garza’s arm could blow up tomorrow. So, you can’t go into a situation close to 2 months before it is resolved with that in mind. I really hope our FO doesn’t do that. Appel may not be up before 2015. Garza could/would be long gone by then.

  • Falselife

    No question for me. If the Cubs think Bryant can defensively handle third, they take him. If he projects to be an outfielder, we take Appel. I am personally hoping Bryant followed by pitching in the second and third rounds. That extra money can help defray the risk hanging on one players outcome.

  • macpete22

    Thanks for the write up. I’d say it’s tough because Appel seems like the safe pick but, I also like Bryant although he could be a little risky. Reminds me of a Mark Reynolds with the power and the huge strikeout numbers. If he can stick at 3rd, that infield could have the potential to be an all-star infield

  • JulioZuleta

    I think Appel comes in underslot, not by much. I still think it goes 1. Bryant 2. Appel 3. Gray. Colorado would be crazy to take Smith at 3. On Law’s top 100, he’s #11, which is very good obviously, but when you’re a 1B, and one of the first things mentioned about you is your “plus arm,” I want no part of you in the top 3, or 10 for that matter.

    • DarthHater

      I suppose a 1B with a plus arm could speed up the game by firing the ball back to the pitcher at a higher velocity.

      • JulioZuleta

        Rockies draft room: “We could have Bryant, a guy with prodigious power; Gray, a guy that brings it in the triple digits with a nasty slider…but let’s take this 18 year old first baseman with a plus arm for quickly turning 3-6-3 double plays.”

        Maybe they project this kid at a different position or something. If not, it looks like a bad pick.

        • SenorGato

          D. Smith might very quietly be the best HS bat in the class. I believe I have him as a top ten talent, and that was being conservative. His bat would get a lot.more talk if he wasn’t a 1B prospect.

          • JulioZuleta

            But he is.

  • macpete22

    Also just saw the Marlins are open to trading Nolasco and like you said before that wouldn’t help the Cubs dealing pitchers at the deadline

  • a_mazz_ing

    I’m torn. All I know is I do NOT want Gray. I hope the Astros take Gray and then I can basically be happy with whatever.

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    What a great day. Now, if Theo and Jed decide on Hayden Simpson II then I say we all go ape shit.

    • DarthHater

      50% of fans will do that, no matter what happens.

  • Austin

    Man, I love draft day. Keep these updates coming!

  • ncsujuri

    This is definitely some higher level math…

  • wally

    Based on the scenario you drew up for us, which was excellent, is there a possibility that the Cubs could use the leverage of the Rockies pick to cut a deal with Appel?

    Something along the lines of: Listen Mark, the Rockies have already said they will take Smith at 3. The Twins could take you at 4, but that would come at a significantly lower price.

  • Assman22

    Cubs final board: 1. Appel, 2. Bryant…Hoyer voted Appel, McLeod voted Bryant, Theo sided with Hoyer…

    • ETS

      Is this a hunch or how do you know whom theo/mccleod/hoyer each prefer?

      • DarthHater

        As team proctologist, Assman has access to inside information. ;-)

        • Greenroom

          One in a million, Doc.

    • DarthHater

      The Assman speaketh!

    • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      Nice. I’d be extremely happy with either of those studs in our farm system.

  • Sam

    The rumor is that the Cubs have discussed some terms with Appel (likely for just under 6 million) and are now bringing it to Gray to see if he would agree to 5 or 5.5 to leverage against Appel.

    I’d still like Appel at 6 over Bryant at 4.5 for what it’s worth

  • Beer Baron

    Another factor is Bryant is only a junior and has the ability to decline and go back for his senior year. He’d probably be wise to accept whatever offer he gets because there are no assurances he’d be a top 5 pick next year, but he is represented by Boras so probably won’t be taking a terribly team-friendly deal. Either way, I say take the best player available and unless you honestly think they are equal talents, don’t let money dictate your selection.

    • BluBlud

      I hear these arguments about going back to school. However, doesn’t going back to school make him lose the money he would make this year, plus puts him one further from Free Agency once he makes the show. If he is the stud he thinks he is, going back to school could possibly cost him $20 million or more.

      • Beer Baron

        Its leverage. If he feels he’s being low balled then it is an option on the table. Overall I agree with you that its not the best option, but you know Scott Boras will use it to squeeze more out of whoever drafts him. Appel did it last year and it looks like it will probably work out OK. If he becomes the stud we think/hope he will, then you’re right he probably did cost himself some money in the long run. But if he’s the second coming of Mark Prior and injuries prevent him from ever hitting free agency – this is his one and only real pay day so he should hold out for every penny he can.

  • EricR

    I think I fall into the camp which thinks that position players are a safer bet in the first couple of picks. Bryant.

  • 5412

    Hi,

    If the position player projects to be a stud, take him over the pitchers with your #1.

    Pitchers are free agents and can be had when you need them.

    Regards,
    5413

    • josh ruiter

      The opposite is just as regularly true. A la Pujols, Fielder, Hamilton, Reyes, Texeira, ARod, All these perennial all stars hit the market and made bank. Soriano anyone? Pitchers are a lot harder to hit in FA and usually are way beyond prime years…since prime pitchers years are a much shorter time span than positional players…oh forgot one guy…Bonds

  • 5412

    Oops,

    I hit the wrong number,
    5412

    • Sam

      Where are these elite pitcher free agents you seem to think exist?

      • mak

        Yea. Look over the last 2 years — SP’s getting locked up.

  • North Side Irish

    Jim Callis ‏@jimcallisBA 4m
    Rumblings #Astros might be team to pop Manaea, at No. 40. Not sure what cost would be but they have $9.2 mil for top 2 picks. #mlbdraft

    Would mean they need some savings at 1.1….

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      If he gets that far. I still suspect the Yankees will have a hard time passing him.

      • TJ

        Luke – How would you compare Appel to Bryan Bullington?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          i wouldn’t.

          Player comps are generally pretty terrible. I try to avoid them whenever possible.

          • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

            Right. I remember on another site seeing Appel’s comp ceiling as Sharks only if everything went perfect. Made me chuckle since nobody expected this out of Shark.

  • Willrust

    Take Bryant and pay overslot for Manaea in Rd 2

  • Cheryl

    The draft starts in about 8 hours. At this point there’s probably a consensus about who not to take at #2. I doubt the cubs take Gray even if he’s available. I hope they make a trade for one of the competitive balance picks. Is it even possible for a club to trade for two of those picks? Probably not. The idea of having three picks in the first two rounds, especially if two of those picks are pitchers would help the cubs IMO. But we won’t have any answers until tonight.

  • BD

    Sorry if this is somewhere above… but couldn’t they say something similar to Appel? “You fell to 8 last year, and if that happens, what will you get then? Take a little less and we’ll still be giving you more than you could get.”

  • Dustin S

    Appel or Bryant I’d be happy with. It’s always a crapshoot anyway. Someone on WSCR mentioned #1 Matt Bush being taken over #2 Verlander in the 2004 draft and how that worked out for San Diego, and Mike Trout being passed on by 18 teams. There are really questions on all of them. Appel is good but had some rough starts late this season. Bryant didn’t face the toughest of opponents at San Diego, so there’s some concern that inflated his stats. And Gray will be under the MLB drug testing magnifying glass now. He won’t get off easy if he fails any MLB tests.

    But the top 2 on my board if I’m the Cubs drafting are Appel, then Bryant.

  • North Side Irish

    Peter Gammons ‏@pgammo 11m
    GMs and agents think Luhnow will wait until at least 4 to decide Appel, Gray or Moran

    No Bryant at 1.1…

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    I didn’t read the comments, but why wouldn’t the leverage against Bryant be the exact same as it is with Appel, since Appel would be the one dropping if the Cubs don’t take him?

    Even better leverage with Appel, because he’s a senior?

    • JB88

      Well, Bryant’s a junior, so he could always return to college. I’d imagine that is part of the reason the leverage isn’t exactly the same.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        Right, this post is postulating that the Cubs could have leverage on Bryant…but they’d have the same, if not more, on Appel.
        Or am I missing something?

        • JB88

          It comes down to slot value, I suppose. If Bryant isn’t taken by the Cubs, then the most he could receive would be whatever the team that selects him +4.99%. If the Rockies were serious about wanting Brown at #3, that means that Bryant could find himself sliding to No. 5, which has a slot value of roughly $3.8MM.

          OTOH, I think most people assume that the farthest that Appel would slide would be No. 3 (the Rockies would have to be crazy stupid not to select Appel in that situation, right?), so the slot value would be at $5.6M + 4.99%, so not exactly leaving that much room for negotiation. I would have to assume those are the dynamics that are at play in this sort of mind game.

  • Sam

    I am really hoping that the Cubs do take Bryant. I think it’s a safer pick. These pitching phenoms have always been overused since highschool and then college, and because of that you see more and more with arm trouble.
    Plus Bryant is from Vegas. That other kid from Vegas is doing pretty well with the Nationals!

  • North Side Irish

    Perfect Game posted their mock which goes Gray-Appel…interesting bit in the Cubs comment: “The Cubs are expected to pick one of the two college righthanders between Jonathan Gray and Mark Appel. Should they have their choice between the two, Gray would get the nod.”

    http://www.perfectgame.org/Articles/View.aspx?article=8572

  • Kevin

    The Cubs would be absolutely crazy to overpay slot for Appel. Pay no more than #3 slot money or we get the #3 pick in the 2014 draft. Done!

  • josh ruiter

    Maybe I am mistaken, or maybe someone posted and I missed it. Isn’t there provisions in the new CBA that restricts the use of that bonus pool to the first “x” number of picks/rounds. If so and we can only spend that extra 3mil on two other pics, forget it. That is like saying I am going to buy a 42″ instead of a 60″ tv for my TV room so I can afford a couple 20″ tv’s, one in the bedroom and one in the family room. You will quickly find yourself pissed that you don’t have that 60″ and will even find yourself watching the big game at a buddy’s house. Anytime you have the means, and opportunity to purchase the biggest and best you do it…and in this CBA that means a top 3 pick more often than not.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    Take the West Coast guys for rounds 1 & 2…

    3B Kris Bryant (San Diego)
    P Alex Balog (San Francisco)

    “The killer bees”

    • hansman1982

      “The killer bees”

      You should be tarred and feathered for saying this.

      • Patrick

        Agreed…take it to Houston!

  • Oswego Chris

    Twitterverse has Cubs getting Appel…and another guy has them getting Gray….oh, and someone else has Bryant…

    • DarthHater

      Thanks for clarifying that for us.

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