Astros set to lead off intriguing baseball draft

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“I’m old school,” McNamara said. “I wish it was 70 rounds. You may find a guy in the 55th round.”

Under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement, teams will have a pool of bonus money from which to sign players. The Astros, for example, have about $11.2 million to use as bonuses on their 11 picks through the 10th round. The Twins, who have 13 picks in 10 rounds, have about $12.4 million to use for bonuses.

Teams face a punitive tax and the possibility of losing draft picks if they stray from the prescribed bonuses.

If a player doesn’t sign, the team loses the amount for that slot. And if a player signs for less than the slot, the team could shift that money to other picks. For players selected in the 11th round and beyond, portions of signing bonuses above $100,000 would count against the bonus pool.

“I think it’s interesting in the sense that it has some protections from the previous system that was much more easily manipulated,” said Bobby Evans, San Francisco’s vice president of baseball operations. “There’s certainly some elements set up that will guard against manipulating a given player’s slot and where he’s taken in the draft.”

Teams will now have only until mid-July to sign their draft picks, instead of the previous mid-August deadline. That could affect clubs’ approaches in targeting players who have a greater chance of signing. But it also could sway high school players, who might choose to go to college instead. And because multimillion-dollar signing bonuses will no longer be available in lower rounds, more college juniors might opt to stay in school.

“I think it does have potentially some effects on high school players maybe being harder to sign them unless they’re taken really high,” Evans said. “Because of the slotting dollars, as they fall lower and lower, it will be harder to sign them at some of those smaller slots.”

Major league teams have been preparing for months to operate with the changes, which Luhnow anticipates are here to stay _ at least for now.

“I think we’re going to all learn how to operate under this current environment and there will be some differences in terms of how clubs approach it,” Luhnow said, “but this is the CBA, this is how it’s going to be for the ongoing future. So we’re ready for it.”

The first and supplemental rounds are held Monday night at MLB Network Studios in Secaucus, N.J., with the remaining rounds completed via conference calls among the teams over the next two days and finishing Wednesday.

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AP Sports Writers Tim Booth in Seattle, Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis, Janie McCauley in San Francisco and Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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