Glossary of Terms
Advisors are individuals who help players and their families assess the player's level of talent in order to project his potential draft status, potential scholarship offers, and ultimately his value. As their title suggests and in order to adhere to NCAA guidelines, advisors can only offer advice to a player and his family . Although players are allowed to hire advisors and retain their services, advisors are not allowed to communicate with a Major League team about their advisee or give money or gifts to a player or his family or friends, as it would violate a player's NCAA eligibility. (For more, see Advisors and NCAA Rules.)
- August 15th Deadline
NOTE:THIS IS OLD SIGNING DEADLINE. IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE NEW CBA, IT HAS BEEN CHANGED TO JUlY 15th. The 15th of August at 11:59 PM (EDT) is when a team loses its rights to sign a selected player. Prior to 2007, a team retained the rights to sign a player until one week prior to the next draft, or until the player entered, or returned to, a four-year college on a full-time basis. The deadline has since changed to July 15th.
- Bonus Baby
A bonus baby was an amateur player who signed for a large enough contract that the team was required to keep him on the major league roster for a full season (or two) instead of playing him in the minor leagues. Harmon Killebrew and Sandy Koufax went on to have the greatest careers by bonus babies, but many other players did not fare well as their development was hindered by sitting on the bench when they should have been playing regularly.
- Bonus Rule
The Bonus Rule was instituted by Major League Baseball in 1947 to prevent teams from assigning certain players to farm clubs. The rule stipulated that when a Major League team signed a player to a contract in excess of $4,000, they were required to keep that player on the 40-man roster for two full seasons. Any team that failed to comply with the Bonus Rule lost the rights to that player's contract. The player was then exposed to the waiver wire. If the player did remain with the team for a full two seasons, the team could then send that player down to their farm system without repercussions. The rule went through several variations until it was finally abolished in 1965. For more, see History of the Bonus.
- Closed Period
The one-week period before any draft, during which time the general rule is that no club may sign a new player.
- Collective Bargaining Agreement
The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) or Basic Agreement is the agreement between the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball describing the rules of employment and the financial structure of the game. A copy of the current CBA can be downloaded from the Players Association web site. The first Basic Agreement was signed on February 21, 1968.
- College Scholarship Plan
The College Scholarship Plan is a negotiated part of the standard minor league contract that guarantees a player a specific amount of money for a specific amount of semesters at the college of his choice. The exact number of semesters and the amount of money guaranteed for each semester is negotiated depending on each player and his circumstances. For more, see College Scholarship Plan.
- Compensatory Pick for an Unsigned Selection
Teams can earn compensatory picks in the draft based on departing free agents. Free Agents are ranked by the Elias Sports Bureau based on their previous two years of playing and against players of similar positions. Players are categorized as either Class A or Class B, or they fall into the category of all other players. To earn a compensatory pick, a free agent must either be signed before the arbitration deadline in early December or be offered arbitration by their former team but still sign with someone else. Compensatory picks that one team gives another by this method are the highest available pick that that team has, with the exception of picks in the top half of the first round, and are protected from being used as compensation. If a team signs a Type A player, they give up their top draft pick to the club that the player is leaving; that club also receives a supplemental pick in the "sandwich" round between the first and second rounds. A team that loses a Type B player receives a supplemental pick, but the signing team does not lose a pick. Teams can also earn compensation for unsigned picks from the previous year's draft. If a team doesn't sign a first or second round pick, they will get to pick at the same slot plus one the following year. The regular draft order would continue around those picks. To compensate for not signing a third round pick, teams would get a pick in a supplemental round between the third and fourth rounds. If a team fails to sign a player with one of these compensated picks, there is no compensation the following year.
- Conservative Negotiation Strategy
A non-confrontational negotiation strategy that is most appropriate for college juniors and seniors outside the top 50 picks and high school players with limited options to go to college and are desperate to sign. Players utilizing this strategy are nearly certain to sign, but for a lower value than the moderate leverage or the maximum leverage strategy. For more, see Negotiation Strategy.
- Down Side Risk
The risk of decline in a player's value if conditions turn bad. E.g. a pitcher who develops injuries and suffers a decrease in velocity or a touted high school hitter who performs poorly in college.
- Draft and Follow
A draft-and-follow is a player usually selected in the later rounds of the amateur draft by a team that does not intend to offer him a contract immediately. The typical draft-and-follow pick will be attending a junior college or will be a college player with at least a year of eligibility remaining as a player. The team that drafts him has a year to decide whether to offer him a professional contract before the player becomes eligible for the next year's amateur draft. This allows the drafting team to see him play for another season before making this decision.
If a player blossoms during his additional year of play, the drafting team can end up with the rights to a player who would normally have warranted a much higher draft pick. The team is expected, however, to reflect this in its contract offer. If not, the player who knows that his value has risen significantly can decide to refuse the contract offer and try his luck again in the draft.
In 2007, changes were made to the amateur draft that effectively eliminated the draft-and-follow. Up until last year, teams have had to agree to contract terms with drafted players by August 15, meaning that teams have barely two months to make a decision about signing a particular player. NOW THE SIGNING DEADLINE IS JULY 15th. Any player unsigned at that date automatically returns to the draft pool for the following year. This change was done to prevent situations in which certain draftees did not know whether they would be going to school or playing professional baseball literally until the day on which classes were to start. This was deemed to be neither in the interest of the schools nor of the player/students. It was also thought that by limiting the time during which negotiations were conducted, there would be pressure for players to sign for lower bonuses, allowing for a more even playing field among teams. Read more at Baseball America here.
- Dual Sport Contract Language
If a player can prove (usually in the form of college scholarship letters) to MLB that he has the ability to play a sport other than baseball at the college or professional level, MLB will allow dual sport language into the contract. This allows the bonus to be paid over 5 years. Teams are eager to do this to avoid cash flow, budgets, and the discounted value of money over time. For more, see Dual Sport Language.
- Farm Club
A farm club or farm team is a Minor League team that has an agreement with a Major League team. When a Major League team signs a player, he is sent to a Minor League team within the Major League team's system. This player is said to be "down on the farm" as he is "growing as a ballplayer". The collection of Minor League clubs affiliated with a franchise is called a "farm system." A player sent to the Minor Leagues is said to be "farmed out." Branch Rickey is credited with creating the farm system while with the St. Louis Cardinals.
- Forfeiture Contract Language
MLB boilerplate language in the uniform Minor League Contract now contains forfeiture language stating that if a player quits before the expiration of the original contract (seven years), he must pay a pro-rated portion of his bonus back to team. For example, if a player retires with two years left on his contract, he must pay back two-sevenths of his bonus back to the Club. For more, see Forfeiture Language.
- Incentive Bonus Plan
A common contract clause that entitles a player to bonuses for staying 90 days on an active roster:
- AA - $1,000
- AAA - $1,500
- MLB - $5,000
Click here for more in depth coverage of Contract Language.
- Industry Consensus
A player can use cues from the baseball media to determine where he might be selected in the Draft. For example, there are good resources for MLB Mock Drafts. Players can get a sense of if their draft stock is rising or falling based on how they might be rising and falling in the mock drafts
The strategic advantage draft players have over MLB clubs created by ability, performance, physical tools, make-up, desire to sign, etc.
For more, see Negotiation Leverage.
- Make Up
A player's makeup is a non-scientific mix of characteristics that include traits like leadership capabilities, mental toughness, poise, competitive drive and perseverance. A player's makeup usually consists of: desire to succeed, coachability, maturity, temperament, improvement, drive, hunger, consistency, knowledge of the game, and competitiveness (how badly the player wants to reach the Major Leagues and how much work he will put in to accomplish this).
- Maximum Leverage Negotiation Strategy
The maximum leverage strategy is the negotiation method that maximizes a player's draft value and also comes with the highest risk of not signing.
The maximum leverage negotiation strategy is most appropriate for:
- A consensus top ten pick
- A player looking for a multi-million dollar contract
- An elite high school player that truly wants to go to college
- A dual sport athlete with offers to pursue another sport at the college or professional level
For more, see Negotiation Strategy
Mechanics is the ability that a pitcher has to reproduce his delivery pitch after pitch. Mechanics are an important part of evaluating a pitcher's effectiveness and potential. Good mechanics mean a pitching motion without unnecessary gestures that maximizes velocity and control, does not place undue stress on any part of the body, and can be reproduced consistently. Poor mechanics can refer to a motion in which velocity is generated solely from the arms (and not from the legs), the release point is inconsistent, etc. Poor mechanics are usually seen as an indicator of future problems with wildness or injury. There is no real consensus as to what good or perfect mechanics are, and the statement from a scout that a pitcher has good mechanics usually means that he does nothing unusual when he pitches. Poor mechanics are usually easier to diagnose, although the question is then whether they should be fixed, or whether a pitcher who is successful in spite of them should be allowed to continue with what works for him. In the case of poor mechanics resulting in reduced velocity, poor control, or repeated injuries, pitching coaches won't hesitate to attempt changes.
- Major League Scouting Bureau
The Major League Scouting Bureau (often referred to as The Scouting Bureau) is part of the Baseball Operations department for Major League Baseball. Established in 1974, the Scouting Bureau was a cost-effective way to centralize scouting. In 1985, then-Commissioner Peter Uebberoth brought the Major League Scouting Bureau under the umbrella of the Commissioner's Office.
The Bureau employs 34 full-time scouts and 13 part-time scouts who submit reports which are available to all 30 Clubs. Their responsibilities include: Major League Spring Training, Triple A, Double A, Single A, the Arizona Fall League, the Winter Leagues (Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela), international competition, and, of course, amateur prospects.
- Moderate Leverage Negotiation Strategy
The negotiation strategy suitable for a player when their Bonus Threshold Number is approximately the same as their perceived industry value.
For more, see Negotiation Leverage.
- Negotiation Leverage
The advantage that players have over MLB clubs based on ability, performance, signability, and make-up. The most leverage a player can have is based on his talent. The second most important factor that affects negotiation leverage is the player's age and eligibility.
For more, see Negotiation Leverage.
- The No-Agent Rule
NCAA rules prohibit amateur athletes from having any form of legal counsel involved in the negotiation of a professional contract. NCAA bylaw 220.127.116.11, also known as the "No Agent" rule states that:
"A lawyer may not be present during discussions of a contract offer with a professional organization or have any direct contact (in person, by telephone or by mail) with a professional sports organization on behalf of the individual. A lawyer's presence during such discussions is considered representation by an agent." (The entire NCAA Bylaw Manual is here).
- Order of Selection
The general draft order is the reverse order of the previous year's standings with the team possessing the worst record receiving the first pick. In addition, teams that lost free agents in the previous off-season may be awarded "compensatory" picks. If two teams finish with identical records, the previous years' standings of the two teams is the tiebreaker, with the team having a worse record receiving the higher pick.
A bonus that exceeds the MLB recommended bonus for each specific pick in the first 5 rounds of the draft. A team has the potential to be fined if they exceed the slot value.
- Paragraph 17B
Paragraph 17B in the Minor League players contract states that a team has 90 days after signing a player to perform a physical examination. If the team is able to prove that a player signed with a pre-existing injury or condition, the team has the right to void the contract.
- Perceived Industry Value
What a player believes his value to be within the context of the market, even though his number might have nothing to do with the market price. Whether they are looking to sign a new contract or are only signing their first one, players assess their talent levels and skill sets to determine what their appropriate worth to a team would approximately be.
- Pop Time
The stop watch measurement from the pop of the glove to the release of the ball, usually on a throw from a catcher at home plate to second base. It is referred to as Pop Time because it is measured from the time the ball "pops" in the thrower's mitt to the time the receiver's mitt is "popped". A good high school time is 2.10 seconds or lower.
- Pre-Draft Deal
Many players (usually those with conservative leverage) agree to a slot deal that has been previously arranged with the team prior to their actual selection. These deals are appealing to teams who do not want surprises on the day of the draft and are looking to save money on negotiations while providing a player with financial security. Pre-draft deals are illegal and therefore can be hard to gauge. Clubs will vehemently deny any knowledge of pre-draft arrangements. So while pre-draft deals "do not exist," they do.
- Pre-Draft Workout
As the June draft approaches, MLB teams often conduct workouts at their home stadium. At this workout, many of the team's high-ranking scouts are present to evaluate the players. This usually includes the the Scouting Director, National Crosscheckers, and possibly the General Manager, Assistant General Manager, or Director of Operations.
A prospect is a young baseball player who is deemed to have a bright future in front of him.
- Questionnaires from MLB Teams
A tool that Clubs use to gather your basic contact information and medical history, as well as assess your signability.
- Risk-Reward Trade Off
The principle that potential returns rise with an increase in risk. Low levels of uncertainty are associated with low levels of returns, whereas high levels of uncertainty are associated with high potential returns.
For more, see Determining Your Risk Profile
- Rule 4E
Rule 4(E) of the Professional Baseball Agreement requires MLB Clubs to make a formal uniform contract offer to every pick within 15 days of the draft.
In 1996, at the behest of their agent Scott Boras, draftees Travis Lee (Minnesota Twins, #2 overall pick), John Patterson (Montreal Expos, #5 overall pick), Matt White (San Francisco Giants, #7 overall pick), and Bobby Seay (White Sox, #12 overall pick) filed a grievance saying no offer was tendered within 15 days. MLB declared them free agents and all players subsequently signed lucrative contracts. Ultimately, Matt White signed for $10.1 million with Tampa, Travis Lee recieved $10 million from Arizona, John Patterson received $6.1 million from Arizona, and Bobby Seay signed for $3 million with Tampa. Six other players filed grievances on the rule: Braden Looper, (St. Louis Cardinals, #3 overall pick), Eric Milton (New York Yankees, #20 overall pick), and A.J. Hinch (Oakland A's, 3rd round pick). However, they all signed before the MLB hearings were held.
For more, see History of the Bonus and the Rise of Scott Boras
- Risk Tolerance
The degree of uncertainty that a player can tolerate in regard to a negative change in his value.
For more, see Determining Your Risk Profile
A scout is an observer sent to watch games and report on the performance of players he sees there. Major League teams use two types of scouts: talent scouts and advance scouts. The scout most commonly thought of when using the term is a talent scout, who tries to identify players that his team may want to acquire.
- Scouting Hierarchy
Teams operate large scouting networks to try to identify the best players. These networks have an elaborate hierarchy. There is a very distinct scouting order: Director of Scouting at the top, then the National Crosschecker, the Regional Scout/Crosschecker, the Area Supervisor, the part-time Scout, and at the bottom, the Associate Scout or a Bird Dog.
- Scouting Report
A scouting report is a report written by a scout about a young player in the Minor Leagues, a current Major League player whom the scout's team may be interested in, or an entire team. Scouts generally rate position players on the five tools: hitting for power, hitting for average, fielding, arm strength, and baserunning.
The perceived likelihood that a player will sign with the team that drafts him.
- Signability Number
The amount of money that it will take to sign a player to a professional contract. This number is often determined by other potential opportunities, like pursuing another sport professionally or going to college. Due to the negotiation process, when a player publicly releases his signability number, it is generally slightly higher (5-20%) than the amount of money he would be content to sign for.
- Signability Pick
The worst teams have the top picks, but due to the large signability numbers of premier college and high school athletes, these teams generally cannot sign them and instead opt for safer picks that have a greater chance of signing at a lower price. As a consequence of this, a signability pick is a player who is likely to sign a professional contract quickly and for what is viewed by the team as a reasonable amount of money given their slot in the Amateur Draft. These players often receive a signing bonus less than that received by the same pick the year before or the year after. Also, these players may be viewed as undeserving of this slot in the draft based solely on their baseball talents. A good example of a signability pick is Bryan Bullington, who was drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2002 amateur draft.
- Signing Bonus
Once selected in the amateur draft, players are offered signing bonuses as inducements to sign with the Major League franchise and begin their professional careers. Signing bonuses for first round picks typically run in the millions but may drop off quickly to just a few thousand dollars for players in the 40th round. Those who play only baseball, have completed their senior year of college, or may not qualify to play college baseball academically typically have little leverage and may be offered a signing bonus less than that of a high school senior or a player with scholarships to play other sports.
The MLB recommended bonus for each specific pick in the first five rounds of the draft. Each year, bonus values in the first five rounds fluctuate, with some players receiving bonuses over slot and others receiving bonuses under slot. A team has the potential to be fined if they exceed the slot value assigned by the Commissioner's office.
- Two-Way Player
A two-way player is one who has the ability to pitch, hit, and to a lesser extent, field. This type of player gives a team a pinch hitter, pinch runner, position player, and pitcher, while only filling one roster spot. Two-way players were very valuable in the early days of baseball, when rosters were much smaller and teams could not afford a large bench, or in leagues with similar limitations.
A bonus that falls short of the MLB recommended bonus for each specific pick in the first five rounds of the Draft.