The 2016 MLB Draft starts on June 9. The first round will be televised. It's going to be so much fun. Drafts are usually pretty wild.
Pretty, pretty wild. Alas, the Giants will not have a pick. You can not share in this fun. You'll have to wait until the next day, which is unfortunate. This is the first time since 2005 that the Giants don't have a pick, and it's kind of bumming me out.
Jeff Samardzija is a gem, of course. Let's see if we're as enthused about him in 2020, when he'll still be 35 and still making plenty of money, but the Giants wouldn't have changed a thing about the starting pitchers they pursued in the offseason. According to Baseball-Reference's WAR, they have three of the top 25 pitchers in baseball right now. Samardzija was totally worth a first-round pick.
That doesn't mean that it's not just the teensiest bit sad that the Giants don't have a first-round pick this June. First-round picks allow you to lie in your fan hammock, dreaming of all the different ways the pitcher can grow up to win three World Series and hit home runs off Clayton Kershaw. The odds are great that a low-first rounder will never give his team as much value as Samardzija has already given the Giants in two months, but that doesn't mean you can't be wistful.
Miss u, first-round pick.
However, I just found something that surprised me. The Giants were mocked, and rightfully so, for the 2005 draft debacle, when they signed Michael Tucker the day before he was going to be non-tendered. They wanted to give up the draft pick because they were right at the top of their payroll budget, and the money not spent on the draft was shuffled directly to Tucker. This seems more like a bean-counter decision than a GM decision, and it still makes me shake my head ruefully. It took a while for the team to shake their reputation of being a bunch of know-nothing draftophobes.
Cut to the present day, though, the Giants are among the very best teams in baseball at keeping their draft picks.
This will be the first time since the Tucker debacle that the Giants won't have a first-round pick, which seems like a pretty amazing stretch. Is it actually amazing? Let's compare them to every other team in baseball:
|Drafts without top-30 pick, 2006-2015|
|Los Angeles Angels||4|
|New York Mets||3|
|New York Yankees||2|
|Boston Red Sox||1|
|Chicago White Sox||1|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||1|
|San Diego Padres||1|
|Kansas City Royals||0|
|San Francisco Giants||0|
|St. Louis Cardinals||0|
|Tampa Bay Rays||0|
|Toronto Blue Jays||0|
Okay, so it isn't terribly amazing. Note that the above table doesn't distinguish between first-round compensation picks under the old system, so long as they came in the top 30. There are a select few teams that have always at least had one pick in the first round, even if they had to lose their own free agent to get it. The Giants were one of those teams before Samardzija.
It's a good thing that the Giants have kept most of their first-rounders, too, considering they're kind of the reason for the entire golden age of the franchise. Their important picks were protected (Posey, Lincecum, Bumgarner), but that doesn't mean they haven't received value from their other first-rounders. Joe Panik is the obvious example, but they still have high hopes for Tyler Beede and Christian Arroyo, both of whom still have a fair amount of trade value.
And while we're on the subject, you can note that Zack Wheeler's Mets career is still just .5 WAR ahead of Carlos Beltran's Giants career.
The Giants will pick 59th in the 2016 draft, and that's where Nolan Arenado was drafted, so there's still a gambler's chance of something magical happening. And other than a couple notable exceptions, it's not like the 26th pick in the draft has been anything special over the years. If there's a pick to ditch, at least it's in the bottom of the first round.
Still, this is usually a time for mock drafts and speculation. There will be none of that this year, which is almost a shame. I guess the Giants will just have to make do with one of their prized free agents pitching much better than anyone had a right to reasonably expect. I guess the Giants will just have to make do.