Finer Points: Draft Bonus Pools
MLB DRAFT BONUS POOLS
Long gone are the days of signing players to MLB contracts (immediately putting them on the 40-man roster) and uncontrollable signing bonuses.
In are the days of assigned slot values and team bonus pools.
Once the draft order is set, each pick in the first 10 rounds is assigned a value. Though it’s not a “hard-slotted bonus” for the player selected with the pick, the value of that pick is part of the team’s overall bonus pool.
The Twins own picks in each round of the draft and one extra “Competitive Balance” pick this year. There values are as follows:
Round 1, pick 13 overall: $4,197,300
Comp Round A, pick 39 overall: $1,906,800
Round 2, pick 54 overall: $1,338,500
Round 3, pick 90 overall: $657,600
Round 4, pick 119 overall: $483,000
Round 5, pick 149 overall: $360,800
Round 6, pick 179 overall: $274,800
Round 7, pick 209 overall: $214,900
Round 8, pick 239 overall: $173,000
Round 9, pick 269 overall: $154,100
Round 10, pick 299 overall: $145,000
TOTAL BONUS POOL: $9,905,800
If only it was that simple, right?
So the Twins are allowed to spend nearly $10 million on their draft picks, but there are a few additional rules to know.
If the Twins fail to sign a pick that has value attached to it, their pool is reduced by the value of the unsigned pick. This happened with Kyle Cody in 2015. The 73rd pick did not sign and the Twins draft pool was reduced by $839,700. Because he was unsigned in the top three rounds, the Twins received the 74th pick in the 2016 draft.
(Jeremy’s note: At some point during the “will he/won’t he sign” debacle, I broke the news that it had to do with a concern over Cody’s elbow. The Twins reduced their offer to Cody - which would have allowed them to spend additional money elsewhere. Ultimately, Cody didn’t sign, went back to Kentucky and was drafted by the Rangers the following year. Cody had Tommy John surgery and is currently on the shelf. Guess the Twins weren’t crazy…)
(But wait there’s more! Up until this point, I never revealed what the plan was with their additional money. And this seems like as good of time as any. Had the Twins signed Cody, they would have also signed two other prospects as well: Kyle Wilson, a pitcher drafted in the 19th round, and Jonathan Engelmann, an outfielder drafted in the 28th round. Wilson and Engelmann went on to play collegiately at Crowder College and Michigan, respectively, and were both re-drafted later. Wilson is pitching in the Mets system, currently at high-A. Engelmann had a very good pro debut in the Cleveland system last year and has yet to break a lineup in 2019. You’re welcome!)
The other thing to know is that every team can spend up to $125,000 to sign picks outside of the Top 10 rounds. If they spend more, that money is counted towards their pool.
So, in theory, the Twins could sign their Top 10 round picks for $8,905,800 collectively (one million less dollars than their pool) and then sign their 11th round pick for $1,125,000.
A strategy used often is teams will draft seniors in the back half of the first ten rounds and then sign them for significantly less than their assigned value. They’ll use that savings to spend more on a player than their assigned value or to be able to sign a non-top 10 round player. It’s become very important for area scouts to know before the draft exactly what players’ demands are.
It should also be noted that there are penalties for teams exceeding their bonus pools. The Twins haven’t - and won’t - ever exceed their pool, so I’m not even going to tell you about the penalties.
We’ll visit the rules surrounding International Spending Pools before International Free Agency opens in early July.
~Articles in the Finer Points series~
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