Back in November, we spoke with Yankees Senior VP Mark Newman about how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement would affect the way the organization acquires amateur talent. With the MLB draft completed last week and the results in the book, NoMaas’ Sensei John Kreese sat down again with the boss of the farm system to see how the new rules ACTUALLY impacted the Yankees’ draft.

Sensei John Kreese: Now that this year’s draft is completed, what is your level of enthusiasm about the quality of the team’s selections compared to pre-CBA drafts?

Mark Newman: We’re enthused about the guys we got, especially our #1 pick. He’s a quality young guy.

SJK: The last time you and I spoke, we talked about how the draft would look more like the NBA and NFL drafts, in which the picks go more in order of perceived talent (as opposed to kids dropping due to signability). Was that the case this year?

MN: Yes, certainly more so than in the past.

SJK: You also said that the Yankees had been “declawed” by the new rules. Now that it’s over, do you feel like you were declawed?

MN: It certainly seems that teams like the Yankees are at a disadvantage. We’ve always been at a disadvantage because there’s a big difference between picking in the top 5 and picking in the bottom five.

But yes, take Austin Jackson, for example — or David Robertson. Those were guys who were drafted a little bit lower and paid bonuses beyond what their position in the draft would normally dictate. That’s a lot more difficult to do now, especially after the 4th or 5th round. It becomes very difficult, especially for a team like us that has a smaller bonus pool.

Houston signed their top pick for $4.8 million, as has been reported. Their allocation for the pick value was $7.2 million, so they already saved $2.4 million, which is more than 50% of what we had total. They effectively got extra picks for doing that, or like in the NFL, they traded down. People in the NFL trade down because they believe they can get the same kind of player lower in the draft and also pick up another high selection. So, when you have one of the higher bonus bonus pools, it gives you more flexibility.

SJK: The new rules were supposedly put in place to make sure the worst teams acquired the best talent, and to also block teams like the Yankees from gaming the system. Do think those goals were accomplished?

MN: To a substantial extent, yes, they were.

SJK: There are many player agents who are upset at how the draft went down, in particular the strategy of drafting college seniors in rounds 6-10 to save money on the bonus pool allotments [Mark jumped in before a question was asked].

MN: You’re going to see that. When you’re getting bonuses in the $140-$150k range, as in rounds 6-10 — the rules are if the slot value is $150,000 and you aren’t quite sure you could sign that guy for $150k, you’d be better off drafting that player in the 11th round, along with 4 others like him in the 12th-15th round. So, you’re better off drafting a college senior and retaining say, $140,000 of that $150,000, you can spend that money on 11, 12, and 13, and you don’t run the risk of losing it.

Everybody used the college senior strategy. It’s an obvious strategic advantage and everyone wants flexibility. The worst thing you can do is not sign a guy and lose the money.

SJK: With new rules making it harder for teams like the Yankees, have you made any changes to your scouting department?

MN: No. It’s not like we were jogging at 80% in our attempt to evaluate accurately and now we’re at a full sprint. Certainly, how we allocate scouting salaries and scouting expenses might be a way to gain advantage in this type of system, but there’s no obvious advantage that the Yankees can acquire.

SJK: Do you think the draft will be less fruitful for the Yankees because of the new rules?

MN: It’s always been a crapshoot. It continues to be a crapshoot. That’s not going to change. But, we obviously have to work our rear ends off, because it’s critical to our long-term success. We’re trying to manage a major league payroll, and this is a big way to do it. We’re looking at the same kind of restrictions internationally.

SJK: Do you still think the international market is going to be the place where you get the best bang for the buck?

MN: Not necessarily. We’ve done well there over the last decade. We certainly want to continue to do that. But, we’re going to be limited in what we can do — and the last few years, we’ve haven’t been the top spenders either domestically or internationally — [Mark is interrupted as someone comes into his office and tells him that a pitcher is about to throw]

SJK: It seems like this ‘quest for parity’ is making your job a lot tougher.

MN: It’s certainly not easy, but extraordinary organizations find a way. Look at the NFL — the Patriots are still the Patriots, the Giants are competitive every year, and some just aren’t. Smart decisions have to be made from the major league level through the player development level. We have to be smarter and more efficient.

SJK: Well, that’s all I got for questions, Mark.

MN: Ok, I have to go watch a young Dominican kid pitch.

SJK: Alright, many thanks as always.

MN: Sure thing.

Much appreciation to Mark for providing us yet again with direct access to Yankee decision-making.