Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Day After

Waking up today made yesterday's events even more surreal.

The two most notable deadlines in baseball, the trading deadline and the signing deadline, produce a lot of action, and typically there is a flurry of activity in the final 20 minutes. Of course, there needs to be a foundation of communication for those final 20 minutes to be worthwhile, which we had established with all of our remaining draftees.

With about 20 minutes to go we received word that AJ Vanegas had decided to attend Stanford. This was a disappointment, especially since we thought so highly of him and his family, but we understood his desire to fulfill that dream. We knew it was a longshot from the beginning, but we still tried to make a compelling case. Our signing bonus offer would have placed AJ among the top ten picks in the country, but that didn't sway his decision. It was clearly never about the money for AJ, and that is admirable.

With about eight minutes to go until the deadline, we heard from John Barbato, our 6th round selection, and within a minute had agreed on a deal that would pay him 1st round money to pass on his commitment to the University of Florida. This was a big and unexpected win. It was expensive, but we feel as though we got a top round talent.

As for Karsten Whitson? I don't think anyone is happy this morning - not the player, not the agent, not the team, and not the fans. With that being the case, it's justified to question how we ended up there.

We had every reason to believe that he would be signing within a few days of the draft (and I mean every reason). Then other people got involved and slowed the process down. Nevertheless, we were still confident that we would get a deal done, especially due to all of the conversations that had taken place before the draft. Once it continued to drag on, we knew that the deadline was the only way that it was going to happen.

When the deadline approached, despite feeling somewhat taken advantage of, we did what every team does in order to get a deal done: we improved our offer to the last dollar. At the end of the day, it was an over slot offer that would have placed Karsten just behind the 8th pick in the country and comfortably ahead of the 10th. However, Karsten did not do what every single other first rounder (who didn't have an issue with their physical) did do: agree to a deal.

At 11:59 eastern time last night, we had over $5 million of offers on the table to three high school players, and they all turned down the money, two of them due to a strong commitment to school. We even had two offers to high school right-handers that would have paid them both like top ten picks in the country! Surreal indeed.

The good news is that, despite having a winning Major League team, we'll have a top pick in next year's draft as compensation, and the industry believes that the 2011 draft class will be much stronger. Also, as in Major League free agency, when someone doesn't take your money, you find another player or basket of players to acquire with that money. A straightforward example is when the Nationals were unable to sign Aaron Crow a few years ago with the 9th overall pick and then the following year took Drew Storen as compensation. Crow is now in A ball with a 5.40 era, while Storen is in the big leagues with a 2.61. So, we didn't sign Whitson, Vanegas, and Dwyer, but now we'll be able to put that money toward other investments either in the draft, internationally, or at the big league level.

Hey, given our organization's track record in the first round, maybe it was time to take a year off!

Seriously, at the end of the day, we were unexpectedly able to sign a handful of players in the 2010 draft in over slot deals, including Cates, Barbato, and Dore. We can also be opportunistic going forward since we expected to spend a lot more money yesterday. Lastly, it doesn't change the fact that from 2007-2009 only the Yankees and Red Sox spent more on amateur players than we did. We planned for that trend to continue in 2010, and we'll plan for it again in 2011.


Paul DePodesta said...

I'm already catching a hard time for my joke, but two things:

1) We're never going to be perfect, and if we can't laugh at ourselves sometimes, then we're taking ourselves too seriously.

2) Let's remember that we haven't had a first round pick work out in a while, and yet we're still in first place. While disappointing, it's not the end of the world.

Marc Normandin said...

It helps when the organization has been successful in the draft overall, even without the first round picks developing. Mat Latos was an 11th round pick, Will Venable a 7th rounder, Nick Hundley (2nd round)--there's plenty to smile about in terms of draft success in recent years, especially with the farm bearing more fruit as of late. And as you said, you still ended up with a first-round talent later on in the draft.

Paul DePodesta said...


I can't post that. Sorry. It's much better than you think.

Anonymous said...

the silver lining is that we won't have to pay for his Tommy John and rehab that he'd inevitably need in 2 weeks after his first start, based on our recent history of first round hurlers...

Unknown said...

Seems to me we'll be pulling in some 2.5m more in revenue not including the playoffs. I don't see how Tejada and Ludwick for the remainder of the year would of cost us a chance to sign either Whitson or Barbato. On top of that we didn't do anything in International Free Agency so where'd the 10m dollar budget go that we've had the last couple years ago? Does Hoyer eat more free hot dogs than anticipated?

What are your thoughts on the Diamondback's situation? Seems to me that sweetheart deal came a couple years too late. At the very least the Padres should protest the decision considering we've had 2 first rounders in pretty much the same circumstances.

Unknown said...


If all the groundwork is done, why not get them to sign on the dotted line before? It is beyond ridiculous that the Team waits until the last second.
The team cannot afford to get those players get away, and without signing more high ceiling HS players year after year I don't see the commitment from management, we got close is not good enough.
You brag about the draft money spent between 07-09, but I see Christian Colon, Jason Kipnis and Brett Mooneyham going unsigned, yet signing low ceiling guys college signable players like Schmidt, Dykstra, Carroll, Canham, Chalk, Sogard, Payne, Kulbacki.
From the 2007? You can say the biggest contributor was Wynn Pelzer because he brought Miggy, or Kluber because of Ludwick, but really, C'mon. Luebke and Cumberland still look good, but for all those picks?

Unknown said...

Is there a way to salvage this horrible feeling by taking a chance on Loux? I hear he will become a Free Agent. Sure he is a college arm with questionable health, but can you comment on it?
Why is this organization so much opposed to the incentive laden contracts? Isn't that a great way to get a low risk-high reward type player every now and then?

Tom said...

I've been critical of past Padre drafts, but in the specific case of Whitson, the team didn't blow it. Sound decision, unexpected outcome. The workflow was sound, this wasn't Batt Mush or Allan Panic Dykstra.

Players should get as much as they can, it's only fair given how they surrender control of their professional lives, but to (rumor has it) almost double your demands in the closing hours isn't negotiating, it's a temper tantrum.

Whitson now must hope that he stays healthy and that the 2013 draft doesn't have predetermined bonuses. Even if he goes in the top 10 again he's not likely to top two and a half million. He assumed a lot of risk last night and his "advisors" took on very little.

Paul DePodesta said...


Two points:

1) It's always the player's decision to wait, not the Club's.

2) We signed guys like Pelzer, Everett Williams, Matt Lollis, Keyvius Sampson, Donavan Tate, Cole Figueroa, James Needy, and more to over slot deals also in the past couple of years. And, that doesn't include over $2 million to Adys Portillo, who is now just 18 and last night was 93-96 mph in five shutout innings in short-season A ball. We're never going to get everyone.

Hockeykev said...


Thanks for explaining what happened.

I do have question on Whitson. My understanding is he can only be in the draft next year if one of two things happens
1- He plays independent ball.
2-If he played next year for a JC.

Is that correct and can he actually play for a JC since he's already committed to a 4 year college?

Ben B. said...

Last year, Tyler Matzek, drafted 11th, signed for 3.9 million. Jacob Turner at 9 signed for 4.7. Shelby Miller at 19 signed for 2.875. This year, second rounder Stetson Allie signed for 2.25 million. Zach Lee signed for 5.25 (although spread out over five years). All these guys were highly regarded high school pitchers drafted at or below the 9th pick.

If you guys thought Karsten Whitson was the second best high school pitching prospect in the draft, 2.15 million (what Delino DeShields signed for at 8), looks like a low ball offer, regardless of what Whitson's initial, pre-draft money demands were.

Paul DePodesta said...

If anyone wants more color on what happened, I suggest you listen to Jed's interview on XX 1090.

Paul DePodesta said...


Yes, that's correct, and I believe he could still elect to attend JC rather than U of F.

Paul DePodesta said...

Ben B,

And Matt Hobgood signed for $2.4 in the 5th overall spot. Mike Minor signed for $2.4 in the 7th spot, and Mike Leake signed for $2.2 in the 8th spot. Both Minor and Leake are already in the big leagues. Chad James, picked right in front of Miller, signed for $1.7.

Mat Latos, who is winning Major League games and who signed for first round money back in the spring of 2007, will have career earnings AFTER this year that will be below what we offered to each of these high school right-handers.

This is a fruitless game. Everyone can point to comps. The reality is that every situation is unique.

Tom said...

To speak to Ben (whom I normally agree with on almost everything), there seems to be a major divide between Whitson and Matzek / Turner in absolute talent. First-round high school arms is a cohort, but there's a lot of variation within it.

Allie is a solid talent comp, yes, but nobody knew what he'd take. For all the Padres knew he might have been popped at #10, so the "second rounder got 2 million" argument would have never arisen.

The verbal agreement isn't just eyewash. Almost every prospect gives teams who ask some indication of what he'll sign for. How could you plan for a player who says he wants a certain amount and then jumps it as much as Whitson did?

Part of the problem is the slot system itself. Intended to control costs and distribute talent, it hasn't been all that successful at the former and has often failed at the latter. MLB only paid attention to one side of the question, they seem not to have considered that agents could use other signings as precedents.

Schlom said...

Paul, if you didn't want to spend more than slot why didn't you draft someone like Cam Bedrosian or Chris Sale? Or even one of the USD pitchers, at least they have local ties. I'm sure all three would have signed for underslot.

Unknown said...

Isn't HockeyKev only partly right? Wouldn't going the indy ball route mean Karsten couldn't sign until his HS class reached their junior year of college?

Phillips said...

Was just wondering what's up with James Needy. Haven't heard anything about him since he signed last year.

Also, are you guys concerned about Tate's injuries, or do you think he will sort things out and be fine?

Ben B. said...

Hobgood and James were not as highly rated by Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus than the high school guys I listed. It seemed like Whitson fit better with Matzek and Wheeler talent wise than James and Hobgood, but maybe that wasn't your evaluation, or maybe you thought Matzek and Miller for that much money were bad investments relative to other players.

Listening to the Hoyer interview, it sounds like more of an issue of principle than of money. Bummer.

Oh well. This was frustrating, but as you say it's not the end of the world. It sounds like a one time issue and not something systemic. Will the pick next year being unprotected by further compensation picks require taking someone who will sign for slot?

Unknown said...

Paul - can you provide any context for what happened with Miguel Pena? Right after the draft, it sounded like he was going to sign. He went out and had a good start on the Cape, then disappeared and went back to Texas. Was there any conversation with him as the deadline approached?

Mr. Maestro said...

I was about to make that joke on gaslampball and saw that you already had. Touche! I appreciate that you via this blog and Jed via 1090 are open to discussing this after the obvious disappointment. Do you think Whitson's agent (SFX) learned about the $2 M offers to Vanagas and Dwyer and expected more than 2.15 for him as a result?

Cpt Top Off said...

Paul, after hearing Jed on 1090 I can certainly understand the club's stance and would have done the same thing myself. That being said, the franchise has a knack for screwing up the 1st round, so I'm hesitant to give any benefit of the doubt. Maybe there was an error made in assessing the kid's makeup and signability. Maybe not.

You did fail to mention that next year's #11 pick is unprotected, meaning the club HAS TO sign the player or there will be no further compensation. Of course that gives the draftee considerable leverage. So I think its fairly obvious that the club will target a signability guy and not a player in the top 11 in the country. Realistically that 11th pick will net a top 20-30 player. And we all know how inept the club has been at picking those (Dykstra, Schmidt, Antonelli, Carrillo).

Also, please don't tell us the money not used to sign Whitson will be reinvested elsewhere. We all know thats a pile of horse manure. We've been fed that crap for years. Every year its "oh, just wait until next year, we'll spend more money." The money is never reinvested in the product, just like Moorad isn't going to reinvest the added revenue this tremendous season has brought him.

Where exactly is Moorad spending his money?

Thanks Paul

field39 said...


What bothers me here. Is that it sounds like a high shool kid, took The San Diego Padres for a ride.

I do not have issues with your not getting this deal done. I have issues with your lack of slime radar.

Unknown said...

The silver lining is that next year at 11 the team gets a better prospect, yet worse leverage. Paul, don't get me wrong, I like what the Padres have drafted in the past, but the ones that get away sting more than a jellow jacket because in the majority of the cases it comes down to money, and in the Padres' case that is the best chance they have to get premium talent.

I don't agree with the philosophy of "we can't sign them all", but we can all agree that more could have been done to sign those players.

If you can speak on it, what do you think of Loux?

Tom said...


Does baseball have a stuff/slime scale similar to the hot/crazy ratio?