Under the current CBA, good teams at the big league level get fewer allotted dollars to spend in the draft and in international free agency. It’s a theoretical assist to competitive balance, even if, in practice, it’s done very little to balance much of anything.
C’est la vie, though, and the Chicago Cubs were very, very good in 2015. That means not only that they’ll be picking lower in the draft in 2016 (which reduces their spending pool organically – lower picks come with lower associated slot values), but their bonus pool for the 2016-17 IFA period will also be small.
As expected, the Cubs come in with the third small IFA bonus pool (ahead of the Cardinals and Pirates), at just $2,063,100. The vast majority of teams are in the $2 to $3 million range, but there is exponential increase at the top, with the Phillies getting more than $5.6 million.
Of course, the size of the Cubs’ bonus pool is going to be much less of a concern in 2016-17, because, as you may recall, the Cubs have gone into the max penalty range in this IFA period thanks to a slew of signings, which means they won’t be able to sign any individual prospect for more than $300,000 in the next two periods anyway. Thus, a $2-ish million bonus pool might be about all the Cubs can realistically and effectively use anyway.
As for the draft, the Cubs’ current pool is by far the lowest in baseball at just $2,245,100. Thanks to picking low in the draft AND losing their top two draft picks for signing two qualified free agents (Jason Heyward and John Lackey), the Cubs’ pool is currently a million bucks lower than the next lowest team. It’s a very small pool.
The big caveat on the Cubs’ draft bonus pool is that, if and when Dexter Fowler signs with another team, the Cubs will get a draft pick back (ultimately, their second rounder), which should add nearly $1 million back to their pool. It’ll still be extremely small, but the Cubs can make a little hay with it, especially if they continue to hit fairly well in the later rounds.