With a number of 2013 Draft signings in the books – officially or unofficially – it’s worth checking in on where the Chicago Cubs’ bonus pool stands, particularly as we anticipate the eventual signing of top pick Kris Bryant.
By way of background, the current CBA allots teams a certain pool of money that they can spend on their picks in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The amount of a bonus in excess of $100,000 after the 10th round also counts against that pool. The pool is based on the sum of the “slot” values that MLB comes up with for each pick in the top 10 rounds. This year, the Cubs’ bonus pool is $10,556,500, and they can spend 5% more than that without forfeiting a future draft pick (instead, they just pay a tax on the overage, which I’m going to assume the Cubs are willing to do).
If a team fails to sign a player in the top 10 rounds, the slot value for that pick comes out of the team’s bonus pool. Thus, signing every player in the top 10 rounds is critical to being able to use your full bonus pool (and 5% overage).
At this point, we’ve received word – again, officially or unofficially – that each of the Cubs’ top 10 picks has signed, except for Bryant. Here are each of the picks, together with the slot for their pick, their signing bonus (Baseball America has a handy tool for calculating these things, and it helps in this exercise, particularly where it collects signing bonus data), and linked to their original signing post here at BN:
1. ($6,708,400) Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego – Not signed
2. ($1,361,900) Rob Zastryzny, LHP, Missouri – Reported bonus: $1,100,000
3. ($736,200) Jacob Hannemann, OF, Brigham Young – Reported bonus: $1,000,000
4. ($477,300) Tyler Skulina, RHP, Kent State – Reported bonus: $800,000
5. ($357,400) Trey Masek, RHP, Texas Tech – Reported bonus: $357,400
6. ($267,600) Scott Frazier, RHP, Pepperdine – Bonus not yet reported
7. ($200,400) David Garner, RHP, Michigan State – Bonus not yet reported
8. ($159,400) Sam Wilson, LHP, Lamar (Colo.) CC Colo. – Bonus not yet reported
9. ($148,900) Charcer Burks, OF, Travis HS, Richmond, TX – Reported bonus: $170,000
10. ($139,000) Zack Godley, RHP, Tennessee – Reported bonus: $35,000
With the bonuses reported thus far, the Cubs are currently over their bonus pool by $241,700. Assuming the Cubs sign Bryant, the Cubs can exceed their pool by $527,825.
There are three guys signed – Frazier, Garner, and Wilson, for whom we don’t yet know anything about their bonus situation. Based on the limited scouting information we have, I’d guess that Frazier would be over slot, while Garner and Wilson would be right around slot. Of course, our best guesses can prove quite wrong – I expected Hannemann to come in under slot, and expected Masek to be a fair bit over slot.
There is an additional wrinkle: the reported signing of 12th round Trevor Clifton. The high school righty suggested that he’s receiving 3rd round money, which could put him around $500,000 to $600,000 – or $400,000 to $500,000 that counts against the Cubs’ bonus pool.
What does all of this mean? Well, the Cubs could be some $250,000 or more above their signing pool even when you add in the allowed 5% overage (and the picture gets even worse if the Cubs don’t sign Bryant). That means, assuming all of these signings play out as have been reported, and assuming Frazier, Garner and Wilson do not come way under slot in total (I wouldn’t be surprised if the opposite were true), the Cubs are currently in danger of losing their first round pick in 2014. And that’s without even being able to sign any other post-10th round over slot types.
… does anyone really think this front office would let that happen?
That’s why many of us are confident that the Cubs have the parameter of a deal in place with first round pick Kris Bryant. Signing him gives the Cubs access to the full bonus pool and the full $527,825 in overage. Even better, signing him under the $6.7 million slot will clear up all of that risk-losing-a-first-round-pick ugliness.
There is simply no chance that the Cubs would put pen to paper on all of these other picks unless they knew things would work out well with Bryant. Thus, if Bryant doesn’t sign, we can conclude one of three things: (1) the front office colossally and embarrassingly screwed up (not bloody likely); (2) Bryant failed his physical (in which case the Cubs would get a compensatory pick next year); or (3) someone didn’t stick to their word. On that last one, we all know that you cannot agree to a deal before the Draft. But we also know that teams have conversations about deals and “come to understandings” about deals before the Draft all the time. Scott Boras advises Bryant, and Scott Boras has to work with every team in baseball. He’s not going to break his word – or allow Bryant to break his – just to squeeze a few extra dollars out of the Cubs.
Based on everything we know, and on some deduction, I’d guess that the Cubs and Bryant have agreed on a range of under slot bonuses (all of which are in the “safe” zone for the Cubs), and the Cubs are sorting out their other potential signings before concluding just how much they can give Bryant without busting their pool. And, for their part, I’m sure Bryant and Boras are happily waiting that process out so that they can gobble up every remaining dollar the Cubs have (not unlike last year, when Albert Almora, advised by Boras, signed just before the deadline). Everyone is happy. Everyone wins.
If Bryant does sign soon-ish, you can assume that the Cubs will try to reserve just a little bit of money for a hail mary or two in the post-10th round group. It probably won’t be much, though. The Cubs clearly decided to use their “extra” money this year in the earlier rounds (and decided not to take a bunch of college seniors just to save money).