The Cubs’ 2013 Draft Bonus Pool is More than $10.5 Million and Other Bullets

mlb draftMake sure you give a listen to – and/or subscribe to on iTunes – the BN Podcast from yesterday. A lot of quality, substantive discussion of the issues the Cubs are going to be dealing with in the early part of the season. The podcast medium is, for some subjects, simply better, because you can cover such a wide, deep range of topics in a relatively short time.

  • Not only will the Chicago Cubs receive the second pick in the June Draft, but they’ll also receive the second-largest bonus pool, according to Baseball America. The Cubs’ draft bonus pool will be $10,556,500, a substantial increase over last year, and behind only the Astros at $11,698,800. Last year, because of supplementary picks and other added picks for other teams, the Cubs’ draft pool - $7,933,900 – was just the 8th largest, even though they picked 6th. In other words, the Cubs will have a whole lot more money to work with this year. That said, don’t get too carried away: a disproportionately large percentage of the Cubs’ increase over last year is due to holding the second pick instead of the sixth, and whomever the Cubs select at number two is going to want his entire slotted amount, if not more. A team’s bonus pool is supposed to cover its picks in the top 10 rounds (plus any amount they spend on a player after the 10th round over $100,000 (per player)), and if a team doesn’t sign one of their players in the top 10 rounds, they lose the bonus pool money slotted by MLB for that pick. We’ll get into the nitty gritty as the draft approaches, but for now, just know that the Cubs can go over their bonus pool by as much as 5% without incurring drastic penalties. That means their likely spendable amount is actually about $11,084,000, which should allow them to take some hard-to-sign types later in the Draft, regardless of what happens with their first rounder.
  • The Cubs won Opening Day in Chicago, by which I mean their 3-1 victory over the Pirates brought in a 4.3 local rating on WGN, while the White Sox’s win over the Royals had a 3.4 rating on CSN Chicago. I wonder to what extent the carriage makes a difference – locals can correct me, but I’m guessing that WGN-9 is carried on a lower tier than CSN Chicago, and would thus be available in more Chicago homes. (Yup, as GBTS notes in the comments, WGN-9 is over-the-air in Chicago, meaning it’s in far more homes than CSN Chicago. Still, the Cubs are better.)
  • There are a handful of new food options coming to Wrigley Field this year (including Dippin’ Dots, the ice cream of the future! From 20 years ago! It’s like ‘Star Wars’ … ).
  • Gordon Wittenmyer, whose work I actually usually enjoy, is really stretching to color his Ricketts-Family-Cubs-ownership-cheapness-financial-troubles bombshell from earlier this week. Today, he wrote this: “With projected big-ticket contracts a few years away, [Edwin] Jackson was given an $8 million signing bonus up front, keeping his annual salaries at a presumably below-market $11 million each year. It’s the kind of move usually made by lower-market clubs with less revenue than the Cubs, whose payroll ranks 13th in the majors, according to USA Today’s annual Opening Day list.” Let me make sure I understand Wittenmyer’s contention here: smaller market teams like to pay guys earlier in their contracts? They prefer to front-load deals, rather than take advantage of the time value of money and pay guys later? Gordon’s saying small market teams effectively like to pay more for players? Do you want to re-think that? (Setting the financial absurdity of the claim, Wittenmyer’s point ignores two key reasons Jackson’s deal was structured the way it was: (1) the Cubs’ baseball operations department had extra money to spend in 2012, and (2) with tax rates expected to increase in 2013, Jackson undoubtedly wanted as much of his deal paid in 2012 as possible.)
  • Jesse Rogers aggressively argues for the removal of Carlos Marmol as the Cubs’ closer. Paul Sullivan says that it’s just one game. Somehow, I feel like they’re both right.
  • BN’er Hans is taking on a very onerous project analyzing the value teams have gotten out of free agency over the past six years.
  • BN’er Patti is VERY generously offering four tickets to Thursday’s home opener at Kane County “free to a good home,” so you’re going to want to jump on that if you’re in the area and can pick them up in person. Shoot Patti an email if you’re interested (patti AT gocoastaltravel DOT com), and make sure you thank her profusely.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

86 responses to “The Cubs’ 2013 Draft Bonus Pool is More than $10.5 Million and Other Bullets”

  1. GBTS

    WGN is still over-the-air in Chicago.

  2. Kyle

    As much as I’m intrigued with where Wittenmeyer is going and think that he’s right in a lot of it, focusing on the way the Cubs made the 5th-largest FA signing of the offseason isn’t the best way to do it.

    1. IrvingandAshland


    2. Coldneck

      I’m pretty sure this topic is over Wittenmeyer’s head, because everything he’s written includes arguments that miss the mark, don’t apply at all, or fail to bolster his argument. He definitely identified a nice subject to write about but should have handed it off to someone that knows what the hell they’re talking about.

    3. Noah

      But do you think that Wittenmeyer has the right of it because his argument is compelling, or because his argument matches your preconceived biases? This is the way I view it:

      Evidence that the Ricketts are just in it for the money:
      They have cut back the budget of the Major League team.

      Evidence that the Ricketts are in it to build a lasting winner:
      They have infused a lot more money into both draft and international amateur spending than the prior regime.
      They hired one of the most expensive front offices in baseball.
      They built (or worked with metro areas to build) much better facilities in Arizona and the D.R.
      They have offered to pay half a billion dollars of their own money to renovate Wrigley Field.

      Now, at some point could the one point in the evidence against Ricketts become so overwhelming that it overpowers everything else? Yes. But since day one of the Epstein/Hoyer regime they’ve put forth a plan, and as of this point everything is sticking to the plan. I just don’t think there’s anything more than inferences based on implications that can be made until AT LEAST the beginning of next season. If the Cubs are still cutting payroll in 2015, though, I’ll be on board on your side of the equation.

      1. CubFan Paul


      2. Kyle

        I think he has the right of it because his opinion matches mine. The only really interesting things in his original article were the smidges of original reporting, and even then the sourcing was too vague to be taken super seriously.

        “They have infused a lot more money into both draft and international amateur spending than the prior regime.”

        And they’ve paid for it with severely reduced spending in other areas.

        “They hired one of the most expensive front offices in baseball.”

        At the total of cost of, what, maybe one decent relief pitcher’s salary?

        “They built (or worked with metro areas to build) much better facilities in Arizona and the D.R.”

        If by “work with metro areas” you mean “snowed other people into footing the bill,” then yes on Arizona. It’s great that they are building the Dominican Academy, but everyone does that these days.

        “They have offered to pay half a billion dollars of their own money to renovate Wrigley Field.”

        Not exactly. They are trying to convince the city to change the laws to allow them to raise the money to pay for it.

  3. IrvingandAshland

    How absurd are Wittenmyer’s comments?? I’m all for opinions but what he is saying simply doesn’t make logical baseball sense. Brett, at what point would a good editor step in and tell Wittenmyer he’s just simply wrong in his assumptions?

    1. aCubsFan

      Do they have any editors left at the Suntimes since they have gutted staff? A lot of people have either left or been forced out to reduce overhead costs.

  4. Noah

    While you’re correct that the majority of the bump in the Cubs’ draft pool is a result of having the 2nd instead of 6th pick, and that much of that draft pool will be spent on the number 2 pick, who is likely to be a college starting pitcher, I think it’s also worth noting that the Cubs also have 2 less picks in the top 10 rounds that this year’s draft pool needs to be spread around to, since they had 2 sandwich round picks last year.

  5. MichiganGoat

    I know there was a discussion that the two Chicago papers have taken sides in how the Wrigley renovation is reported. So is/was the Sun-Times on the Bleachers or Ricketts side? It might give some insight on why this report came out when it did and why its getting so much press.

  6. Bilbo161

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I always thought the front load of Jackson’s contract was good in one respect. It make Jackson more flip able. Not that that was the plan going in, it just makes it possible to expect more for him in return if the Cubs have a nice trade opportunity come their way. If Jackson’s having a good year and someone gets desperate for a good starter, who knows what kind of a sweet prospect filled deal could come our way.

    1. CubFan Paul

      Kansas City was fleeced by Tampa. Average pitchers that’ll never sign in free agency in a small market are in high demand on the trade market for blue chip talent. We may have to wait until there’s only 2.5 to 1.5yrs left on the deal but we’ll get a sweet package indeed (that’s what she said..).

  7. Idaho Razorback

    Dippin’ Dots at Wrigley Field? Are you kidding me? What is it, 1986? Is our manager Gene Michael? Dippin’ Dots are the new rage in North Idaho. Silverwood Theme Park, my former employer, promotes them like there’s no tomorrow. We’re behind the times by 25 years up here in the panhandle. There’s no excuse Chicago should be this far behind. Geeeeezzzzzzzz……..

    1. wvcubsfan

      The food selection will now be just a half century ahead of the players facilities.

    2. Patrick W.

      I was so excited when they announced the dipping dots signing! My pager went off, and I knew to go check the fax machine, and there it was, the highlight of my day!

      1. Drew7

        Serious question: Is faxing really *that* outdated?

        Is it too DieHard-ish of me to think that the whole scan-and-email thing is much more of a hassle?

        1. Kyle

          Every high school sports coach who reports results to local newspapers says “No, faxing is *forever*!!!”

          1. MightyBear

            Faxing is a dinosaur.

            1. Drew7

              Oh, man! MB has to be at least 45-50, and even *he* knows faxing is extinct.


              1. MightyBear

                I’m 37 DH.

                1. Drew7

                  Aaaace! MB just called me, “Die Hard”!

                  How come you only let your favorites get away with such a thing? :)

          2. Drew7

            So I should probably get on board with the scan-and-email thing?

            Am I so far behind, scan-and-email is out-dated, too?

            Is that even what it’s called, or does it have a fancy name?


            1. Kyle

              If you want to be hip to the times, keep your book on a tablet that automatically compiles and e-mails the box. Never have paper to begin with.

              1. Drew7

                Oh, I’m hip with the baseball-related stuff.

                My job requires quite a few hardcopies and wet-signatures to be on file, so completely electronic is out of the question.

                1. hansman1982

                  PDF Creator, then Fax from email.

                  1. Drew7

                    Wait, fax *from* email? Are you trying to be funny?

                    1. hansman1982

                      No, I can send you a fax right now if you’d like. My work graduated from actual faxing to e-fax from email when we went “paperless” for document storage.

                      In my old job, customers would fax me documents often and getting them in my email inbox was nice.

                  2. Cubbie Blues

                    But, if it is a hard copy to begin with and you don’t need it scanned, it’s easier to just throw it in a fax machine and be done with it.

                    1. hansman1982

                      The fax machines we have here are painfully slow, scan only one-page at a time (meaning for a 100 page document you’d spend A LOT of time at the fax) and don’t print success pages.

                      Scan and fax let’s you have a copy that you can refax in an instant, you get a success email back and I can fax to as many people at a time I want.

                      It’s really nice.

            2. Cubbie Blues

              I, too, hate the scan & e-mail. It takes longer. Isn’t technology supposed to make things faster & easier? If it doesn’t then what’s the point?

              1. Drew7


              2. hansman1982

                Fax machines scare and confuse me. Scanners are much easier to understand.

  8. Crockett

    Dippin’ Dots was created by a fellow Saluki.

    Lay off their awesomeness!

  9. Idaho Razorback

    Hey “Big Boy” Mighty Bear. I’d be shocked if you didn’t like Dippin’ Dots. Bash me now since I don’t have a photo of me. Brett asked us yesterday to add a photo via gravitar dot com I’m off tonite and will search for my perfect photo. It’s a combination of Dick Tidrow and the cat’s cats pajamas! Hope to have it up by the morning.

    1. MightyBear

      Why don’t you show a cross between a potato and a pig? Just put up a portrait.


      Big Boy

      1. DarthHater

        Always happy to be of assistance:


        1. MightyBear

          Hey that’s pretty good. It’s the Idaho Razorback! LOL

  10. itzscott

    Maybe Wittenmyer doesn’t understand the Cubs’ stated plan of rebuilding from the ground up and the need to get very bad in order to secure premium draft talent in order to be very good later on, but I have to give kudos to him only because no other Cub reporter (distinguished from columnists) has ever put any sort of heat on the organization before.

    It’s a good thing to keep the front office on their toes and not to be allowed to use the local media as an extension of the Cub Marketing Dept for once.

    1. BT

      People who keep saying this clearly don’t pay attention to Chicago media. Steve Rosenbloom and Paul Sullivan write for the Chicago Tribune, and if you believe they are an extension of the Cub marketing Department, you need your head examined.

      1. DarthHater

        Rosenbloom is an extension of a bodily orifice that should not be named in polite company.

  11. Kevin

    The Wittenmyer story was way out there, and the amount of people who ran with it was even more surprising. The Ricketts bought the Cubs, what they make and what part of the debt they pay down isn’t anyone’s business. The fact that people question a billionaire’s business decisions is just stupid..

    1. Kyle

      They bought a business in a spectator sport. Of course it’s the fans’ business. They make money off the fact that it’s our business. Us caring about what happens is the entire basis of their business model.

  12. Kevin

    It’s a private company……period!

    1. Edwin

      Just because it’s a private company doesn’t mean we can’t question business moves or make speculations based on the information available to us, however imperfect or incomplete that information may be.

  13. mul21

    Wittenmeyer makes arguments based on the debt structure in his article. I recall when the team was being sold that Zell wanted a specific structure to the deal that involved a lot of debt to reduce the tax burden he’d have to pay on the sale. Has this been completely forgotten, did it not really happen, or was it not really a factor to begin with? From what I recall, that’s the biggest (nearly sole) reason that the debt is structured the way it is.

  14. Kyle

    Can we get a game-day post? All this stupid offseason-style stuff is booooring.

    I found a binomial calculator online that makes Doc obsolete.

    If we assume a 77-win true talent, then the Cubs now have a 40% chance of being at least .500 after 90 games (as the trade deadline heats up).

    32% to be .500 or better for the whole season.

    1. OCCubFan

      Could you share the location of the binomial calculator?

      1. hansman1982

        Just google binomial calculator.

    2. DocPeterWimsey


      Actually, you could have done it in Excel or R easily enough, too. (Believe it or not, I don’t just calculate these things in my head!)

      In R, for example, just use: pbinom(wins,games,winning percentage) if wins = half the games.

      (The function gives the probability of 0…X successes, and you want to know the probability of a team winning 45+ games or 44- games.)

      In Excel, it is just binomdist(wins, games, winning percentage, true) or 1-binomdist(wins-1, games, winning percentage, true). The “true” gives you the area under the curve from 0…wins: if you put in “false” then you get the height of the curve instead. (That’s dbinom in R.)

      1. DarthHater

        Since when do robots get hurt feelings?

        1. DocPeterWimsey
      2. Kyle

        There was a time when I probably could have done the math without needing a spreadsheet.

        But then I went to college and they told me that if I wanted to major in journalism, I literally wasn’t allowed to count any normal math courses toward my degree. The only math course that would count torward a journalism degree was a dumbed down, almost remedial “General Education Math.”

        That says a lot about the state of the journalism industry.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          The problem is that you have to do a combinatoric for binomial probability: it’s the probability of any exact sequence of 45 wins and 45 loses times the number of combinations of 45 wins & 45 loses in 90 games. (Thats about 10^26.) Doing those by hand gets a bit excruciating as you have factorials involved. It’s basic arithmetic: but 90X89X88….. takes a while!

          1. MightyBear

            Why don’t you put that math to some good use and tell us how to figure out who to bet on?

      3. DocPeterWimsey

        huh, that turned out wrong.

        OK, for a record under 0.500, it is is:
        pbinom(wins,games,winning percentage)

        For a record of 0.500 or better, it is:
        1-pbinom(wins-1,games,winning percentage).

        Incidentally, binomial probability is just coin flipping probability based on successes, trials and the “weight” of the flip.

  15. Bill

    Thanks for the lead on the Cougars tickets Brett. Thanks for the four tickets Patti! I’m really looking forward to the game.

  16. Kevin

    “and whomever the Cubs select at number two is going to want his entire slotted amount, if not more.”

    I can’t think of any situation where the 2nd overall pick has any leverage to get more than the slotted budget.