The new CBA rules will change the way teams draft - there's no question about that - but how drastic of a change will it be? The key to the new rules is that each pick in the draft now has a specific and published slot bonus dollar amount assigned to it. It's a sliding scale for every pick in the first 10 rounds (this year it starts at $7.2M for the #1 overall pick and geometrically drops to $125K by the end of the 9th round), and then a constant $100K for every pick after the 10th round.
In past years they've had slot recommendations, but this is the first year where teams will actually be penalized if they exceed their bonus cap limit for the draft. Gone are the days when offending teams were told to go sit in the corner and count to a million before their overslot contracts with their new draftees would be approved. That and getting the cold shoulder and mean looks from Bud Selig were the worst that offending teams used to have to put up with. Under the new rules, the Bonus Cap Limit for each team is calculated by adding up the slot recommendation for every pick that a team has in the first 10 rounds. I already have an old fanpost up that addresses this topic in more depth: (http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2012/5/18/3029596/baseball-america-releases-the-slot-bonus-amounts-for-each-pick-in)
so I'll just touch the basics of the penalties now. The penalties for a team that spends too much in the draft are defined as follows:
Teams that exceed their Bonus Cap Limit (hereafter referred to as "Cap") by:
0.01% to 5% = pay a 75 % tax on the overage.
5.01% to 10% = pay 75% tax on overage AND lose their 1st-round pick in the next year’s draft.
10.01% to 15% = pay 100% tax on overage AND lose their 1st- and 2nd-round picks in the next year’s draft
More than 15% = pay 100% tax AND lose their 1st- and 2nd-round picks in each of the next two drafts
In addition, unlike in past years, if a team fails to sign a player that they draft in the first 10 rounds then the amount of the
slot for that pick is subtracted from the team's Cap and possible penalties are calculated from this new, lower Cap amount.
For every pick after the 10th round (and all the way through the 40th round) the max slot limit is a flat $100K. If a player drafted after the first 10 rounds does not sign, the team's Cap is not affected, BUT any amount of a bonus paid to a player drafted after the 10th round that exceeds $100K is added to the team's overall spending for the first 10 rounds and is used to calculate the overage on which possible penalties would be assessed. For example, if a team had a $5M Cap for it's first 10 round picks and they paid a total of $5.2M in bonuses to those draftees, then they would be over their Cap by 4%, but be subject to no penalties. However, if they then signed a player that they drafted in the 12th round to a $180K bonus then the $80K that they spent in excess of $100K would be added to the existing $5.2M that they had already spent during the first 10 rounds to raise their total spending amount $5.28M. Since the new amount is 5.6% above their $5M Cap the team will have to pay a fine of $21K (which is 75% of .28M) to MLB.
So, how will the new extreme penalties affect the draft in general? While many teams won't mind paying up to a few $100K in penalties by going over their Cap by less than 5% in order to sign a promising prospect or 2, I am of the strong opinion that no team is going to want to exceed the 5% over Cap threshold that would start costing them future first and second round draft picks. Because of this, and because of how the slot limits are currently set, I think that it's very, very unlikely a team will be able to draft and sign a high school prospect that has been rated in the top 50, or so, prospects of his HS draft class (which is not the same list as the top 50 prospects in the entire draft) unless the player is drafted with one of the first 50 picks (where the slot limits are $1M or greater). In the same vein, I believe that it will be very, very unlikely that a team will be able to draft and sign a HS prospect that has been rated in the top 120, or so, prospects of his HS draft class if he isn't drafted within the first 100 picks (where the slot limits are around $500K or greater).
How does all of this affect the Giants? To begin with, it probably means that if they want to draft a highly-rated HS prospect then they'll have to do that with one of their first 3 picks - because their 4th round pick is #145 overall. It also will almost certainly mean that the Giants will be even more biased towards taking college players with their picks in the top 10 rounds than they have been since John Barr took over their drafts prior to the 2008 season (and they've been incredibly biased). I believe that they are also going to be a lot more biased towards college players with picks taken after the 10th round, because very few HS players will be willing to sign for $100K or less. If the Giants do find an unloved gem like a Clayton Blackburn, Brandon Allen or Alec Asher (all of whom signed for around $180K-200K) that they like in the HS ranks then they'll have to draft him in the 5th through 8th rounds in order to have enough room under the slot limits to sign him.
Because of the new rules and the Giants general preference for college prospects, I look for the Giants to draft a maximum of 3 American HS prospects in the entire draft - at most 1 after the 10th round. I also think that we'll see the Giants return to 3 themes that they started exploiting in last year's draft:
1. Look for them to draft power-armed college relievers (especially in rounds 4 through 10) that they think could be converted to starters (last year this included Chris Marlowe, Bryce Bandilla and Ray Black). That way they would be getting some nice upside value at a cheaper price than a starter and have the fallback positon of knowing these guys can always be sent back to the pen and likely have success progressing through the system.
2. Look for the Giants to go after JuCo freshmen and sophomores after the 4th round (last year they picked 7 guys that fell into this category - headed by Derek Law, Kentrell Hill, and Demondre Arnold). That way they get younger guys that are only 1 or 2 years removed from HS, but are much cheaper to sign than a HS kid of similar talent.
3. Look for the Giants to continue to mine the HS and baseball academies of Puerto Rico and Canada for obscure young prospects that are easier to sign than their American counterparts. Last year the Giants took 6 guys that fell into this category - headed by Jean Delgado, Christian Diaz, Cristian Otero and Jonathan Jones.