Salisbury on Phillies' potential targets
Matt Harvey (2010), Prince Fielder (2002) and Clayton Kershaw (2006) were all No. 7 picks. (AP)
If there's a positive to be derived from the Phillies' fast fade from contention after the All-Star break, it's the draft selection they obtained by finishing with the seventh-worst record in the majors.
At 73-89, the Phillies had a better record than only the Astros, Marlins, White Sox, Cubs, Twins and Mariners. Thus, they pick seventh in the first-year player draft next June.
The draft slot is notable for a few reasons. First, it's the Phillies' highest draft pick since 2001, when they selected Gavin Floyd fourth overall. Floyd didn't pan out with the Phils but has gone on to have a decent career with the White Sox.
More importantly, by finishing with a bottom-10 record, the Phillies cannot lose their first-round pick. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, a team forfeits its first-round pick if it signs a free agent who was tendered a qualifying offer by his former team ... unless the signing team has a top-10 pick.
If that's a bit unclear, here's an example. Last winter, the Cardinals made a qualifying offer to impending free agent right-hander Kyle Lohse. What is a qualifying offer? It's the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball. Last year, that number was $13.3 million. So Lohse, coming off the best season of his career, could have signed the one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer from St. Louis or tested the free-agent market.
He chose the latter option. Then he went unsigned for months because no team wanted to forfeit its first-round pick for him. Eventually, the Brewers did, inking him to a three-year, $33 million deal and losing their 17th overall pick.
So if the Phillies sign Shin-Soo Choo or A.J. Burnett or Jorge De La Rosa this offseason after they've been tendered a qualfying offer, they will not lose their first-round pick. That's important, because the Phils need to fill holes in the rotation and in the outfield, and free agency is probably the easiest way to do it.
"I don't like the fact that we're picking that high," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters earlier this week. "But I think it's a good thing for us. It gives us a little more flexibility to do things."
That it does.
For reference, here are some recent seventh-overall picks. The list is quite promising.
• 2010: Matt Harvey (NYM)
• 2009: Mike Minor (ATL)
• 2008: Yonder Alonso (CIN)
• 2007: Matt LaPorta (MIL)
• 2006: Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
• 2005: Troy Tulowitzki (COL)
• 2003: Nick Markakis (BAL)
• 2002: Prince Fielder (MIL)