So what is the value of a draft pick?
On the one hand, we know that most players that get drafted never make the major leagues - and even some of the highest-drafted players never make it. Look at the first-round picks for just about any draft and check out the number of players that never made it or never did very much in the majors.
On the other hand, teams seem to value the picks now more than ever. They don't part with them easily. All organizations value young talent that is on the lower end of the salary spectrum and that is under team control for many years. Good organizations can be built around such players.
The Orioles currently have six of the first 91 picks in the 2016 First-Year Player 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 picks in the top 10 rounds. Last year, the No. 14 pick that the Orioles currently hold was slotted for a bonus amount of more than $2.8 million. This year, that will likely be around $3 million when the slot values become public.
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 and economic draft clout it has.
The Orioles need a starting pitcher and if they were to sign free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo, they would lose the No. 14 pick in the first round. Gallardo went 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA for Texas last year. His career WHIP is 1.31 and his ERA+ has been 108 or above in four of the last five years, when he has averaged 194 innings. The right-hander, who turns 30 on Feb. 27, has made 30 or more starts for seven consecutive seasons.
If the Orioles did give up the No. 14 pick in June's draft, it would be the second-highest pick a team has given up this winter. Five teams signed players that cost them first-round draft picks since the 2015 season ended. Other picks have been lost for signing players, but so far just five that were in the first round:
* Arizona gave up the No. 13 pick for signing Zack Greinke.
* Washington gave up the No. 17 pick for signing Daniel Murphy.
* San Francisco gave up the No. 18 pick for signing Jeff Samardzija.
* Kansas City gave up the No. 24 pick for signing Ian Kennedy.
* The Chicago Cubs gave up the No. 28 pick for signing John Lackey.
Those picks just go away (not to another team) and the first round actually shrinks, to what is now 25 picks. The first compensation pick - between the first and second rounds - is now No. 26 going to the San Diego Padres for losing outfielder Justin Upton to Detroit. The Orioles' second selection is No. 29 overall and is compensation for losing pitcher Wei-Yin Chen.
Detroit didn't lose a first-round pick for signing either Upton or Jordan Zimmermann. They have the No. 9 pick in June and the first 10 picks are protected. Thus, Detroit lost only second- and third-round picks for signing those two players.
Thus the tough decision for the Orioles, who would lose a higher pick for signing Gallardo than Detroit did for adding Zimmermann or Upton.
Baseball America projects the Orioles will have the sixth-highest total draft pool this year at $10.6 million. 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 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.
We know the Orioles have traded away some minor league pitchers in recent years to get major league talent. Their farm system could use an infusion of talent that those six picks could provide. But their rotation could use an addition of talent for the 2016 season.
It is a tough call for the Orioles when it comes to Gallardo.