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.