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How Much Does an IFA Cost?

I was having a discussion with a fellow Capra owner and - after years of riding the IFA train as if it were heroin - I've gotten to the point where I think that I'm going to give up.

What I wanted to do was to determine how much it costs to acquire an IFA.  Now, the cost for particular teams varies based on any number of factors including luck, but I figured that I had average luck and had pursued a fairly optimal strategy.

My strategy was this:

  • If I was going to be in on IFAs, then I would maximize the amount of dollars available so that I wouldn't be outbid by other teams for players that I could see.  If you look back, I'd imagine that I've got the most or second most budget dollars available in well more than half of the seasons where I made a big push.
  • Avoid getting stuck with nothing.  Before the All-Star break I would pick and choose and try to get the best IFA possible.  After the All-Star break I would select the first ML quality IFA that I saw.
  • Because in most years my 1st round pick was in the late twenties or thirties and kind of crappy (especially because I often had 0 or 4 HS scouting), I would prioritize spending money on an IFA over signing my draft pick.  Only when my first round pick was a definite major leaguer would I sign him.  (of course, i would spend my leftover prospect money on whatever fringy players that I drafted). 

Below if a list of my IFA spending and outcomes for each of my years in the league.  Most of the columns are self-explanatory but here's a description anyway:
  • Season:  season selected (in some season I selected more that one "ML quality" player
  • Player:  player selected (only "ML quality" players are included.  No roster filling scrubs)
  • Bonus:  the amount spent on the bonus to sign the IFA
  • Intl Bgt:  my international scouting budget for the year
  • Prspct Bgt:  the amount allocated towards prospects (after the 50% tax)
  • Bonus: (crap this got cutoff by excel formatting)  this is money that I spent on my ML quality 1st round picks
  • True Int'l Cost:  (International Scouting) + (Initial Prospect Budget) + (Dollars Transferred into Prospects from Elsewhere) - (Money spent on ML Quality Draft Picks)
  • Outcome:  I rated the player's career quality (or, for more recent years, guessed and included an asterisk)

The "Total True Int'l Cost' at the bottom is the amount of money that I figured that I allocated for signing international free agents.  This most definitely includes money that I made available to spend and wound up wasting because no suitable IFA was available.

The total for 37 seasons?  One billion, three hundred and seventy million.  That's right. $1,379,000,000.

Ok, now the goal is to see what I got for my money.  What I tried to do was spread the money across all of the signed players.  Assuming that I allocated/spent all of my money wisely, the value of the 31 players that I signed has to equals $1.379 billion.

So, in order to add up to that number, here's the cost that I assigned to each type of prospect in order to add up.

That's right, I'm estimating that it costs $213M to fetch yourself a Hall of Famer in the IFA market and $50M to get an above average major leaguer.

Compare that to the $4M that you spend on a #1 overall draft pick.  For having that #1 pick, a team gets to turn $4M into what would be $100 to $200M on the open market.

If we consider the IFA market an open market, that means that the #1 pick is worth roughly $100M to $200M on the open market.  Even a #20 pick, which typical nets the team either a Major Leaguer or occasionally an Above Average Major Leaguer should be worth $20 to $50M.


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