One question that has been floating around the Yankee blogosphere over the last 12 hours is the following, voiced by MJ over at Was Watching:
Why would you draft a player that you’re taking a flier on, let him pitch in the Cape Cod league and watch him dominate and then not sign him? Presumably, the performance in the Cape should’ve solidified and justified the draft-day gamble on him and given the Yanks comfort that their flier was justfiied.
Instead, according to a response I got from Baseball America’s Jim Callis, the Yanks balked at Lyons’s $500K bonus demand and will let him go back to OSU for his senior season. I find this very odd. While I philosophically understand the need to create a budget and stick to it, I am surprised that $500K was the budget’s threshold.
The answer is really very simple. Unlike those of us who follow prospects through the reports of others, the Yankees actually scout these players and make decisions based on more than numbers. The Yankees saw Lyons pitch at the Cape, and obviously picked up on something that made him less than a priority to them. They certainly did not pocket the money ticketed for Lyons, as they signed a number of players taken after him to bonuses larger than 500K. As Mike at RAB notes:
Well, after last night’s last minute signing of 44th rounder Evan DeLuca for $500,000, the Yanks have spent at least $6.185M on this draft, and that doesn’t include the likely six-figure bonuses given to 12th rounder Brett Gerritse, 13th rounder DeAngelo Mack, and 14th rounder Graham Stoneburner among others. It’s not difficult to envision a scenario where the Yanks spent $7M on this draft.
$7M on one draft class is a ton of money, but just how much? The epiphany draft of 2006 – the one that landed Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Zach McAllister, Mark Melancon, David Robertson and Dellin Betances – cost $6.7M. Just seven clubs spent more than that last year, and almost all of them had to shell major bucks out to top ten picks. By no means did the Yankees go cheap this year.
The Yankees had a very large budget, but it was still necessary to draw a line somewhere. They valued certain players as much or more than Lyons, and allocated the balance of their budget to those players.