Estimating the Pirates’ 2022 MLB Draft Pool

With the MLB Draft not set to start for nearly another three months—July 17th to be exact—is there any chance we have of knowing where the Pittsburgh Pirates will pick and how much they’ll have to spend?

Actually, there’s a pretty good chance—all it takes is knowing a few rules and some bits and pieces of reporting that have trickled out thus far. Now that it appears that the final free agent that turned down a Qualifying Offer—Michael Conforto—will not be signing before the draft due to an injury and subsequent surgery, I can finalize my estimate and attempt to walk you through how I got to it.

What first got me on this quest was a report by Ronald Blum of the Associated Press—buried in an article covering some finer points of the newly hammered out Collective Bargaining Agreement was the new slot amount for the first-overall pick—$8,842,200. I set out to see if I could use this number to build a model for the entire draft.

First, I took the slot values from 2021—remember, they didn’t change from 2019 in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic—and calculated the percentage increase for the first overall pick. That turned out to be 5.07%, and I assigned the same increase to every pick in the draft, which for 2021 was 312 picks.

Now that I had values for that many picks, I had to come up with an order for the 2022 Draft, of which we’ve known at least the first round since October 2021. For the most part, every round after Round 1 follows the same order as the first, so when the Competitive Balance picks were announced, this allowed me to fill in the space between Rounds 1 and 2 and Rounds 2 and 3, while setting an order for the entire draft—317 picks in all.

If you’re wondering how I accounted for the values of Picks 313 to 317 (first, good on your for paying attention), I referenced the 2019 Draft, in which Picks 312 to 317 seemed to have the same slot value.

Finally, all I had to account for was the Qualifying Free Agents. Sure, the rules are a little confusing, but for the most part, the signing team is going to lose a pick while the team losing the free agent is gaining a pick—you just need to figure out where. Know what order those comp picks go in—it’s based on previous year record—and it’s smooth sailing from there. In the end, the total number of picks was actually 316, as the Los Angeles Dodgers, as a CBT payor, had to give up two picks for signing Freddie Freeman. In the meantime, the Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers traded their Comp B picks, which also needed accounted for.

In the process of building this out, I originally didn’t realize I needed to give the Boston Red Sox the 41st overall pick for failing to sign 2021 second round pick Jud Fabian. After fixing that, it wasn’t long before the official order was announced at the beginning of the month. It turned out the only machination I missed was the Dodgers’ first round pick dropping ten slots after they exceeded the Second Surcharge Rate of the Competitive Balance Tax.

While I would have liked to not have needed to change my estimate at all, I was able to live with one mistake, and I felt pretty good for it being the first time I ever tried this exercise.

So, after showing my work, enough blabbering—where are the Pirates picking and how much am I projecting for them to have available?

The following is where the Pirates should be picking, along with an estimated slot value for each pick:

Round 1: #4 ($7,002,100)

CompA: #36 ($2,149,200)

Round 2: #44 ($1,775,200)

Round 3: #83 ($770,300)

Round 4: #110 ($554,600)

Round 5: #140 ($414,300)

Round 6: #170 ($311,400)

Round 7: #200 ($242,800)

Round 8: #230 ($193,000)

Round 9: #260 ($166,100)

Round 10: #290 ($154,900)

In total, that gives the Pirates an estimated $13,733,900 pool, fourth in the league and $660,100 less than 2021, when they were first.

Here are the pools for the rest of the teams in the league, based on my estimations:

Orioles        16,923,800
D-backs        15,112,100
Mets        13,955,700
Pirates        13,733,900
Rockies        13,660,700
Royals        11,668,300
Marlins        10,485,800
Nationals        11,007,800
Reds        10,794,100
Cubs        10,092,700
Padres        10,088,900
Twins        10,035,900
Guardians          9,980,900
Rangers          9,640,600
Tigers          8,024,900
Blue Jays          8,367,600
A’s          8,315,800
Red Sox          8,078,200
Braves          8,022,200
Mariners          7,254,400
Brewers          7,070,800
Angels          7,024,300
Rays          7,795,000
Cardinals          6,842,300
Astros          6,836,800
Yankees          6,425,100
Phillies          6,307,000
White Sox          6,289,100
Giants          5,793,200
Dodgers          4,221,300

The total draft pool for the entire league equals $279,849,200, and I take solace in the fact that Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that “[t]eam bonus pools total $280,000,000 in 2022.” That means, that at least in theory, I’m on that right track and my numbers check out.

Will they be exact? I doubt it, but this at least gives you an idea of what the Pirates have to spend on their draft picks come July, and you can keep it in the back of your mind while taking in all the draft coverage over the next couple of months.

As for me, I’ll be waiting with bated breath to see just how close I came—stay tuned.

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