One week ago, the Boston Red Sox made the first blunder of the 2009 off-season by signing 34-year old utility infielder Marco Scutaro to be their starting shortstop next season.
Scutaro batted .282 last season with 12 home runs, 60 RBI, 100 runs, and 14 steals. Because of Scutaro’s Type A free-agency status, the Red Sox had to give up a first-round pick to the Blue Jays. Word on the street is the team felt they were good on first rounders because they gained one when Billy Wagner signed with the Atlanta Braves.
While I do consider myself an expert in fantasy baseball drafts, I don’t claim to be an expert in MLB amateur drafts. That said, I hear first round picks are a good thing to have.
It seems to me that the first-year player draft is going to include international players very soon – if not next season. At the latest, I’m sure the draft will become international by 2011.
Anyway, my point with this statement is that the first year player draft is quickly going to become more important, and first round picks in Major League Baseball may actually matter again!
When the draft goes international, it won’t be long before teams like the Sox and Yanks lose out on the ability to just throw cash at the best international players and sign them without any competition from the little guys. Sooner rather than later, an ace-caliber pitcher like Yu Darvish or Aroldis Chapman could actually be picked up by teams like the Nats and Royals instead of simply filing for free agency and letting the bidding wars begin.
Was a 34-year old career utility infielder coming off his career year really worth $5-million for each of the next two seasons with the added cost of losing a first round draft pick?
If the draft really does go international, I would have to say no. There will be significant talent depth in the first year player draft, and first round draft picks could begin to have value in trade negotiations, like they do in the NFL and NBA.
Hopefully Red Sox Nation isn’t burnt too bad by overpaying for Scutaro. But I’m afraid the investment and the loss in exchange for his production simply won’t add up to success in 2010.