Jon Heyman, who has an unspoken close connection with Scott Boras’s camp, today reports that the Chicago Cubs are close to signing their top draft pick, San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant … who is represented by Boras. In other words, I tend to believe Heyman on this one.
With the signing deadline looming on Friday, this would be news we’ve long waited for. It will clarify how the Cubs are able to proceed with the rest of their spending (although, strictly speaking, it’s my guess that they’ve already got that all worked out).
Interestingly, Heyman reports that Bryant is set to receive a “record” signing bonus, which actually just means that he’ll receive the largest bonus in the new slotting system, with the young man picked ahead of Bryant this year – Mark Appel – currently holding the honor. The slot value for Bryant’s pick is sufficiently higher than Appel’s bonus that, as I’ve noted before, the Cubs can make Bryant the highest-paid player while still saving money under slot. That’s now what I expect to happen.
It’s a little bit of a surprise, given that Appel is also represented by Boras. While getting the biggest bonus for Bryant is a feather in the cap, isn’t not getting the top pick – and the top overall talent – the top bonus, like, the opposite of that? I really would have thought everyone would have agreed that a bonus just under what Appel received was appropriate (if not lower). The third pick, Jonathan Gray, didn’t even top $5 million.
In any event, hopefully this will be wrapped up soon, and Bryant can get his minor league career underway. Whatever Bryant gets, I believe the Cubs will have made certain not to exceed their bonus pool by more than 5% (as high as you can go without losing a future first rounder). I just hope that there was enough money leftover for later round over slot signings.
UPDATES: According to multiple reports (including Peter Gammons and Jim Callis), Bryant is getting slot from the Cubs, or just about $6.7 million. That is surprising for any number of reasons, and modestly disappointing (not for Bryant, who absolutely should have tried to get every dollar he can), if it proves to be accurate.
That said, it’s not that disappointing, especially if the Cubs already prepared for this with respect to their later round picks. The Cubs were about $200,000 over budget before Bryant signed because of over slots in rounds 2 through 10, and Bryant signing at slot will allow them to go over their total pool by about $500,000 without losing a draft pick. Take $200,000 of that away for the earlier round over slots, and you’ve got about $300,000 to spread around the later guys. Tyler Alamo was believed to be an over slot type, as well as Michael Wagner. Each has already signed. Trevor Clifton is believed to have agreed to a deal for “third round money,” which would be $500,000 to $600,000. It sure doesn’t seem like the Cubs can accommodate that if Bryant got slot, so, I guess we’ll see what happens – maybe he’ll end up taking less.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Bryant is a ridiculously awesome prospect, and, when he puts pen to paper, the Cubs’ system will get a further talent injection. This is all still pending a physical and the official officialness, but that’s expected soon.