Kris BryantIt’s no secret that first round draft picks use the signing bonuses of other first round draft picks to angle for a slightly higher bonus for themselves. If a guy picked after you gets $X, well, then, you better get $X + 2. If a guy picked before you gets a bonus well over the slot value associated with his pick, then you should also be getting a bonus above slot.

This is all just part of the negotiation dance, and it doesn’t always actually impact the final deal. But there’s some relevance, given that there are only so many data points available in these kinds of negotiations.

For the Cubs and top pick Kris Bryant, the most relevant data points are probably what Mark Appel gets from the Astros (as the only pick ahead of Bryant, the Appel bonus would arguable set a ceiling for Bryant (relative to his slot value, that is)), and what the second overall pick – Byron Buxton – got last year from the Twins. We don’t know Appel’s figure, and probably won’t any time soon. Buxton signed for $6 million, which was $200,000 under slot for the second overall pick last year. Incidentally, Buxton is now considered by some to be the best prospect in baseball.

But as picks below Bryant sign this year, could you argue there’s some negotiating relevance there? The Rockies have reportedly signed top draft pick (no. 3 overall) Jonathan Gray for $4.8 million, about $800,000 under slot. That figure is almost $2 million lower than the Cubs’ slot for Kris Bryant at no. 2, and would seemingly offer a great deal of “distance” for the Cubs to work with in giving Bryant a bonus that is far higher than Gray’s, but still below slot.

So, does this mean the Cubs won’t have to go the full $6.7 million on Bryant?

The truth is, although there’s some intellectual appeal in an argument there, I don’t think you can work backwards like that. It’s too easy for Bryant and his advisor, Scott Boras, to argue that the bons for picks after Bryant – even immediately after Bryant – are irrelevant. The Cubs didn’t want Gray, they wanted Bryant. They picked Bryant. They should have to pay the full value for Bryant, regardless of what bargain deals the teams after the Cubs elected to take. That’s the argument, anyway.

I wondered aloud on Twitter whether there was an impact here for Bryant, and speculated that there wouldn’t be. Jim Callis responded that he didn’t think there was an impact, either.

I’m sure the Cubs will mention the Gray deal to Scott Boras in negotiations about Bryant, but the whole Gray/Adderall thing and the Boras-takes-no-shit thing … I just don’t think it gets them anywhere. I think there was a narrow range that both sides understood Bryant would accept when they drafted him in the first place (remember that five minute window of silence when the Cubs were late on their pick? you better believe that was about pitting Bryant and Gray against each other), and the Cubs are likely trying to save just a hair under slot on the deal – but it won’t be waaaay under, if it’s under at all.

The signing deadline is July 12. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bryant take a little while before he signs.

  • Rich H

    I do not see where this has any bearing on the Cubs negotiations with Bryant at all. I still think that we need to offer him 2.5 slot money (about 5.75 million) and work towards a deal from there. But that will be up to what ever Team Theo decides is a good starting point.

    At this point I just want to get a deal done so we know how much money we are talking about for the rest of the slot guys.

    • ssckelley

      I agree, I think 5.75 to 6 million is more than a fair price. Again, Bryant has very little to gain and everything to lose by going back to college.

      • Brett

        (For the record, I completely agree about Bryant’s lack of leverage, given his historic season and being drafted second overall.)

        • Drew

          I know it’s a different sport, but does Matt Barkley’s situation play into anyone’s thoughts? He was arguably the Top Rated QB a year ago, only to drop to the 4th round this year.

          Now, sorry but the Baseball draft does not carry as much fanfare as the NFL draft. Brett are there any similar stories, to your knowledge, with baseball players?

          • JBlades

            Are you forgetting about RG3 and Luck that is why he stayed for his senior year. He wasn’t the #1 guy and thought he could be the next year with USC being the #1 rated team going into the season. No comparison whatsoever to Bryant.

          • ssckelley

            The big difference in football is you have to declare for the draft if you are coming out after your junior season. Once you are drafted there is no going back to college. In baseball the NCAA allows you to go back to school.

          • Brett

            Here’s one of the consummate cautionary tales:

  • Jim

    I was hoping that when the Cubs delayed their pick they were already negotiating what the player would demand in price. A lengthy negotiation is something very common to Boras. I had hoped that Bryant would sign quickly and get into camp and give us a couple of months to see him in action already this year. I would guess the range would be $5.5 – $7 Million in the negotiations. I will predict around the middle of that for $6.3 million.

  • Spriggs

    I expect this to drag on until the last day.

  • North Side Irish

    Jason Parks ‏@ProfessorParks 2m
    #Cubs system is very legit: Bryant (he will sign); Baez, Almora, Soler, Vogelbach, Johnson, Alcantara, etc. They have a lot of talent.

    • North Side Irish

      Jason Parks ‏@ProfessorParks 18m
      Yes. Cardinals still very strong as well, despite losing talent to ML level. RT @ohnemusj @ProfessorParks #Cubs have to be top 5 don’t they?

      • North Side Irish

        Jason Parks ‏@ProfessorParks 3m
        He’s a natural DH; not a problem to worry about yet. RT @tbg9 @ProfessorParks Where else can Vogelbach play if Rizzo is in front of him?


    Grey for 4.8 mil sounds like a bargain. That was a tough pick and I’m sure they’ll be compared through out their carriers. At least by Cubs fans anyway.

  • fromthemitten

    Dropping dirty before the draft tanked Gray’s leverage. Bryant won’t come at a discount but he will sign unless he prefers playing for the Astros are Marlins

    • fromthemitten

      *or Marlins

  • JulioZuleta

    I was a Gray fan at the start of the year, probably got caught up in the 100 mph readings. I definitely took a step back as the draft approached, and I’m definitely happy they took Bryant over Gray. Between his arm, build, and (arguably) questionable decision making, he could be very Joba Chamberlin-esque.

  • SenorGato

    Gray will get a ton of compliments for signing early and cheap, but does that sound like the negotiation tactic of a supposed high end talent with the ability to go back to school?

    I’m just glad the Cubs didn’t pick him. 9 times out of 10 I just want nothing to do with the helium arm.

  • ssckelley

    Honestly it would not surprise me if both Appel and Bryant took underslot.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    He will wait till the last day, but the cubs will get a nice discount for Bryant. Between 500k and million. Easy negotiation. He’s going to turn down 5.5 million bucks and go back to class? Not even a boras client is that dense.

  • Die hard

    Brett you are troll ing ur own site

  • 5412


    Borass almost always waits until the clock strikes midnight to sign his kids. That can screw the team and the kid if he needs to get into the system quickly.



    • 5412


  • nkniacc13

    Boras will sign kids earlier but not the top names he wants to max their value.

  • Brian Peters

    Sign the kid.

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  • Darrell b

    If Bryant signs for under slot, it only matters if he signs early enough for the Cubs spend the left over money to sign another pick.