There are a few good reasons that the Orioles have been reluctant to part with the No. 14 pick in the first round of next June's First-Year Player Draft. If the Orioles had signed or do sign a player that turned down a qualifying offer, they have to part with that draft pick.
For one, the Orioles hope to get a player with that pick that will advance to the major leagues and help them win games for years. But beyond that, money to sign the picks is involved.
The Orioles currently have six of the first 91 picks in the 2016 draft and the higher you select, the more dollars there are available in a club's bonus pool to sign players. Each team is allotted a certain amount to sign their top 10 round picks. Last year, the No. 14 pick was slotted for a bonus amount of more than $2.8 million dollars.
The way the draft rules now work, if a team has any savings on any pick in the top 10 rounds, that money could be used to sign other picks. If a team goes over for any top 10 round slot amount, that money comes out of its total bonus pool. Manipulating the dollars has become a real strategy in the draft. The bigger a team's bonus pool, the more maneuverability it has.
Last year, the Orioles signed high school pitcher Gray Fenter, drafted in round seven, to a $1 million bonus, even though the slot amount for the pick was just $178,300. Savings on three other top 10 round picks helped make that overage possible.
So the Orioles obviously would hope to draft a very talented player with the No. 14 pick, should they hold onto it. But they also would enjoy the extra dollars that pick brings to the overall draft pool. It could help them get a better player than expected later in the draft.
According to Baseball America projections (the exact slot amounts are not known yet for 2016), the Orioles have the sixth-highest draft pool amount at this point:
$14.1 million - Reds
$13.6 million - Phillies
$12.9 million - Padres
$12.6 million - Braves
$11.3 million - Rockies
$10.6 million - Orioles
Even though the Orioles don't have the sixth pick, having six high draft picks helps them to have the sixth-highest amount of pool dollars.
Also, here were the 2015 slot amounts for the top six picks that the Orioles currently hold in the draft for 2016:
No. 14 - $2,842,400
No. 29 - $1,944,800
No. 54 - $1,125,200
No. 69 - $893,100
No. 76 - $801,900
No. 91 - $636,400
If you add those figures up, you get around $8.24 million for just those six picks. Baseball America has projected that the 2016 pools could grow by around 6 percent over last year. Based on that, the O's would be allotted $3,012,944 for that No. 14 pick and around $8.74 million for those top six picks.
The Orioles' top two picks last year were outfielder D.J. Stewart at No. 25 overall and shortstop Ryan Mountcastle at No. 36. They received combined bonuses of about $3.3 million and the Orioles would have almost that amount for the No. 14 pick alone in the next draft.
Last year, the Orioles had 11 picks over the first 10 rounds and were allotted a bonus pool of $6.85 million. They failed to sign pitcher Jonathan Hughes, taken in the second round with pick number 68. As compensation for not signing the pick, they get the No. 69 selection next June. This year, the Orioles will have 13 picks over the draft's first 10 rounds.
There are three free agent players left that would cost the signing team a draft pick: pitcher Yovani Gallardo, outfielder Dexter Fowler and infielder Ian Desmond. Tampa Bay has been linked to Desmond and would lose the No. 13 pick for signing him. That would move two O's picks up one spot and they would then hold the No. 13 and No. 28 picks.
Of course, the Orioles have been mentioned in connection with Gallardo and Fowler. Should they consider losing a pick for either player? Of should they hold onto the pick and the important bonus money that goes with it?
The top 100s: We are starting to see the rollout of some publications' top 100 prospects lists. The MLBPipeline.com top 100 was released last night and O's pitching prospect Hunter Harvey was rated No. 85. Dylan Bundy, once ranked as the sport's No. 2 prospect, did not make the top 100. He had been No. 64 on this list at this time last year.
Earlier this week, the two right-handers were ranked in the Baseball Prospectus top 101 with Harvey at No. 58 and Bundy at No. 69. The two pitchers are on the comeback trail. Harvey has not pitched since July 2014 and Bundy pitched just 22 innings in 2015. Former Oriole minor leaguer Josh Hader was No. 61 on the MLBPipeline.com list.