In November 2011, Major League Baseball and the player’s union agreed on a five year deal for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Among other changes from the past CBA, one of the biggest events that was affected was the MLB Draft. Before, there was no spending limit. Teams could take a player at any point in the draft and pay him whatever they wanted. This allowed teams with bigger budgets to draft stars late and pay them a ton of money to sign. With the new CBA, there are strict spending restrictions.
These spending restrictions are fairly confusing. Basically, each team gets a certain amount of money that they can spend on the first 10 picks of the draft. The amount of money that you get is based on what picks you have. The team selecting first, in this year’s case the Houston Astros, get the most money to spend. The team selecting second, the Chicago Cubs, get the second most money to spend and so on. With their first 10 picks of the 2013 MLB Draft, the Cubs have $10,556,500 to sign players with. If they go over that amount they will receive penalties including a 75 percent tax and possible loss of picks. Teams can spread this money out however they wish between picks in the first 10 rounds. Picks outside of the first 10 rounds are subject to a $100,000 limit. If you pay for a player over that $100,000, it counts against your money you can spend on your top 10 picks.
If teams can save a little bit of money in the first 10 rounds, they can take high upside players in the later rounds who they can sign for more than $100,000. This is exactly what the Cubs did with 12th round pick Trevor Clifton. In this first 10 rounds of the draft, the Cubs took many college players who are likely to sign for less money than their slot indicates. This allowed the Cubs more freedom later in the draft to take players with great talent who slipped due to concerns whether they would sign. According to the Knoxville New Sentinel, the Cubs have signed Clifton to a contract way over his $100,000 slot. With the money the Cubs expect to save with their early picks, they were able to sign a high school pitcher with great upside.
Clifton had a 3.35 ERA during his senior season at Heritage High School in Maryville, Tennessee. He had 79 strikeouts and 21 walks. At 6-5, 185 pounds, Clifton has great size for a pitcher. He throws an impressive fastball that sits at about 94 MPH and reaches as high as 98. He throws a sharp 74-77 MPH curveball and a solid changeup.
“It was a dream come true,” Clifton told the Knoxville New Sentinel about being drafted. “I got the money I wanted, and playing professional is a dream.” Clifton did not say what he asked for other than third-round money, “and that’s what I got,” he said. It is hard to say right now how much money he received from the Cubs, but I am going to guess it is in the $500,000 to $700,000 range. As long as they can save on their earlier picks, I am very excited about this pick for the Cubs. Clifton certainly needs some time to develop, but this is a great signing for the future of the Cubs. It is not easy to draft and sign a pitcher in the 12th round with ace potential and that is exactly what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer did with Clifton.