I reported last week – thanks to Duane’s active Tweeting – that the Chicago Cubs had signed their second round pick, high school righty Duane Underwood. What I didn’t have at the time was the amount of his signing, which has since been reported to be $1.05 million. It’s a healthy signing bonus for a second rounder, one of the highest in this year’s Draft, which is reflective of both his raw ability, and the fact that, as a 17-year-old in the second round, he had a fair bit of leverage with a commitment to Georgia. It’s also reflective of how much the Cubs must have liked him, and I’m sure they’re happy to have a deal done, even if it’s well above his $769,000 slot recommendation.
So, with Underwood in the fold, where do things stand with the Cubs’ Draft and Draft Pool? Well, the only remaining top ten round draftee is first rounder Albert Almora, who was almost certainly going to wait until the end to sign, so that he could squeeze every last dollar out of the Cubs (as he should). How much can he squeeze?
Well, even after Underwood received a healthy overslot bonus, the Cubs are still $276,200 under their pool for the 11 of 12 picks who directly count against the pool (top ten rounds). That amount, combined with the $3.25 million slot for Almora, plus the 4.99% the Cubs can go over their pool without losing a future draft pick, means the Cubs could offer Almora up to $3,922,895 without losing a future draft pick. That would seem to be plenty to get a deal done – let’s hope Almora didn’t have his heart definitively set on something that started with a 4.
Indeed, there’s already some scuttlebutt in the comments and on various message boards that the two sides have come to an agreement, pending a physical, which agreement will be announced Thursday or Friday. Given that the deadline is Friday, that was probably to be expected anyway.
It will be interesting to see how much Almora gets, and whether the Cubs can put any leftover toward a tougher late round sign like 20th rounder Blake Hickman, for example (the Rhett Wiseman ship has long since sailed). I’m sure the Cubs would prefer to keep Almora a few hundred thousand under $4 million, so they can spread that out among some later round guys. But, if push comes to shove and they have no other choice, I’d imagine they’d do whatever it took (short of losing a future first rounder) to lock down Almora.