Jim Callis reports on the draft pools for 2012, when the new rules governing the MLB Draft begin to go into effect. Basically, Callis says the Pirates will be able to spend about $6.6 million, or maybe a bit over (depending on how much they're willing to bend the rules) on the first 10 picks. (The number will be slightly higher if Derrek Lee ends up signing a major-league deal with another team, because that would give the Pirates an extra compensation pick.) 15 teams will be allowed to spend more next year, even though the Pirates pick eighth overall; the Minnesota Twins, who have the largest pool, will be able to spend almost twice as much.
It's important to note that there has been a lot of very wacky reporting on this issue, so it might be wise to wait until other sources confirm these numbers before jumping off a cliff. Callis is very reliable, however, and these numbers would be awful for the Pirates if they turn out to be true. Pirates fans initially freaked out when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement made clear that draft rules would be changed, but folks like Baseball America and Pirates president Frank Coonelly (who told me personally that the Pirates' 2012 draft pool would be about $10 million) suggested it wasn't as bad as we feared. If these pool numbers were right, though, it really is that bad.
The Bucs have spent freely in the draft for the past four years. We knew the days of spending $5 million on Josh Bell in the second round would be over, but these numbers would clamp down on pretty much any kind of advantage the Pirates had carved out for themselves. This is especially frustrating, given how little Major League Baseball has done to make major-league players affordable to teams like the Pirates. If these numbers are accurate, it will be that much harder for the Pirates to be competitive.
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