Nats’ Rizzo ready for the Draft

Monday is the day that Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo calls his Super Bowl. Rizzo and his staff will be working on selecting the best player in the First-Year Player Draft.

Unlike the previous three years, the team will not have a top 10 pick in the Draft. Instead they will have the 16th overall pick. Since the 2007 season, the organization is known to stack the Minor League system with pitching.

Rizzo said he has an opinion on about 35 to 40 players that he has scouted this year.

“It’s a lot less clearer in the type of player we are going to get,” Rizzo said. “It’s hard to plan, but … we have done all the backgrounds and all the work on 1,100 players in the Draft. We are going to rank them –one to 100 – and we are going to take the best player available, like we always do.”

In the past, the Nationals had an idea how much money they were going to spend. As recently as last year, they were known to go higher than the recommended slot for paying their top Draft picks, but that will change starting this year because of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Under the CBA, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club’s selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team’s selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a future first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a future first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

Rizzo indicated the new agreement would not impact the Nationals.

“It hasn’t impacted us one bit,” Rizzo said. “We are going to take it like we always have. We are going to put the board together – ability-based – and we will do our due diligence on the health, makeup, signability on all the players. We are going to pull the trigger and pick the best player available.

“The constrictions that you have on the amount of money that you can spend will certainly change in the way we have done business in the past. Again, it comes down to getting the right player in each of the right slots.”

Live coverage of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday, at 6 p.m. ET on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

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