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MLB Draft 2012: New Bonus Rules Restrict Teams' Operating Room

The 2012 MLB Draft starts Monday, but the puzzling out of the draft's new bonus rules—which could lead to drastic changes in draft strategy and risk-taking—started a long time ago. Here are the new storylines to follow as the St. Louis Cardinals and other teams make their first-round picks.

The biggest change in the most recent collective bargaining agreement is that the slotting system, heretofore entirely unenforceable and usually completely ignored, now has teeth: Each team has been assigned a total cash figure, based on the number and quality of the picks it has, out of which all its bonus money must be paid. Each pick has a much harder slot figure, and teams will be incentivized for signing under slot by being allowed to plow that money back into their bonus pool.

That could be bad news for teams who want to make big gambles on frontline talent, as the Cardinals did with No. 1 prospect Shelby Miller back in 2009. I'm not sure how baseball benefits from narrowing its potential talent pool and reducing the possible payout to amateur sports' best athletes, but that's just one of a number of ways in which I'm not Bud Selig.

More MLB Draft 2012 coverage from SB Nation St. Louis: