Amateur signing strategies examined

Updated: July 23, 2003, 11:09 AM ET
By Jim Baker | ESPN Insider
On Tuesday, I linked you to a story regarding the Devil Rays' continued "failure" to sign the No. 1 pick in the amateur draft, Delmon Young. I put a spin on it that implied this was a bad thing, but, Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News wrote in to say that there is clearly a method to their madness:

    Jim: There is some thought that the Devil Rays delay because they have B.J. Upton's signing bonus on this year's budget because of the signing time, and part of that delay in signing was because they didn't have money last year. What will happen now is Young's signing bonus will go on next year. Plus, by waiting until after the season to sign Young he will be signed to a 2004 contract. That means the four years that the Devil Rays have Young before he has to go on a 40-man roster won't start until 2004 and that gives them four full seasons before he goes on a 40-man plus three seasons on the 40 man before he has to stay in the big leagues so they have control for seven years. If he signed this summer the first year of that seven-year period would be used up. Once teams get into mid-July they prefer not to sign a player for the current year so they can extend their control of his career for a year. That's why players are often misled unless there is a significant amount of money involved because they are giving up an additional year of control to the signing team.

    Tracy Ringolsby
    Rocky Mountain News
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at