The 2015 MLB Draft is quickly approaching (June 8-10), which means talks of which prospect will be picked number one overall have begun. Unfortunately for everyone in baseball -- teams, fans, prospects -- there is no real consensus about who should go where.
The team that owns the #1 pick, the Arizona Diamondbacks, wants to throw another wrench into the plan and make that #1 guessing game even more difficult. Kiley McDaniel, lead prospect analyst for FanGraphs, is reporting that the D-Backs are looking for an under-slot deal at the #1 overall pick:
Source: D'Backs have reached out to HS players other than GWhitley, TStephenson & DCameron about below slot deal as the #1 overall pick.— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) May 11, 2015
Industry buzz still is ARZ leaning college at 1-1 & is price-shopping under guise of 1-1 bargain to find over-slot targets for picks 43 & 76— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) May 11, 2015
ARZ will save at least $2.5 million vs slot on the 1st overall pick & possibly as much as $5 million, to then apply savings to other picks.— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) May 11, 2015
If the D-Backs can find a player willing to sign for less than the slot bonus at number one overall, then they can use that difference to overpay slot at picks #43 and #76.
McDaniel envisions a scenario where the D-Backs can grab a top talent with that # 43 pick:
Then player tells teams he wants $1M more than 17th slot to sign, increasing odds he slips to #43. This happened multiple times in '14 Draft— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) May 11, 2015
It's a rather interesting strategy for the D-Backs to try and it certainly isn't the first time a team will try to pull this off. The Houston Astros are considered the creators of this strategy when they used it to draft Carlos Correa number one overall in 2012.
If Arizona is able to grab an under-slot player at #1, it could completely shake up how the rest of the draft board plays out. The scenario creates a draft where a highly-touted player could fall right into the D-Backs' laps at pick #43, when they could afford to overpay that slot for him -- or could create further intrigue as other teams wise up to the plan and could outmaneuver them with machinations of their own.