Theo Epstein's grand plan to put an end to the Chicago Cubs' 104-year World Series drought was dealt a huge blow when the MLB announced major spending restrictions on its amateur draft shortly after Epstein agreed to take the gig. Epstein broke curses in Boston by employing a similar strategy; basically, use big market pocketbooks to throw top dollars at prospects smaller market teams would pass on in the draft because they didn't want to commit so much money to unproven youngsters who are likely years away from helping the big league club. This is how Epstein built a top farm system for the Red Sox.
It's an advantage Epstein used to have as the showrunner for a big market club, one that was taken away on Monday during the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft. There are slot limits now, meaning you can't overpay top talent without heavy fines and forfeiting future picks.
It didn't take long the new rules to come into play. An organizational source told the Tribune's Phil Rogers the Cubs would have selected Stanford pitcher Mark Appel under the old system. Appel was the perceived top prospect in the draft who fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates at No. 8 due to signability issues.
From the Trib:
"Where the new rules change everything is that in the past we would have had a tremendous draft budget,’’ a source with the Cubs said. "We’d have grabbed (Appel). If he was there, we would have said, ‘Screw it, we’ll sign him, and if we don’t, we’ll figure it out.’ We wouldn’t have had to bastardize every other round.’’
Appel was said to demand $6-8 million, which is worrisome considering new rules state teams can only spend $6,563,500 for 11 picks. Appel's agent, of course, is Scott Boras.
The Cubs instead selected high school outfielder Albert Almora with the No. 6 overall pick.
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