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2017 MLB Draft Primer: Bonus Pool, Slot Values, Penalties, Etc.

Cubs Minor Leagues and Prospects
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[If you’re looking for information on the logistics of this year’s Draft – the timing, the coverage, the order, etc. – you can find it here in the first installation of the Draft Primer.]

The 2017 MLB Draft starts today – the Cubs will pick three times (#27, #30, #67)! – and there are some mechanical aspects of the signing process that impact the way the draft selection process will play out.

But despite a new CBA, which was agreed upon last December, many of the new “rules” don’t actually apply to this draft just yet. In fact, in more ways than not, most things are the same this time around. In either case, I’ll lay out the basics below, so you have a good idea of what to expect and why going in.


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The Bonus Pool

Teams are still assigned a “pool” of dollars that they can use to sign players selected within the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The pool is based on the “slot” value of each of the team’s picks (each pick in the Draft is given a certain value, and each of a team’s picks’ values are added up to determine the pool amount).

One of the notable changes from last year’s draft, is that MLB has decided to compress the differences between slots at the top of the draft. As an example, the Twins’ allotment for the first pick in the draft this year is about $1.25 million less than what the Phillies got for the top pick last June. With that said, every pick from #3 to #60 has actually been allotted more money than last year, in an effort to close the gap.


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The Slot Values

The individual slot values for the first round picks are as follows:

  1. Twins – $7,770,700
  2. Reds – $7,193,200
  3. Padres – $6,668,100
  4. Rays – $6,153,600
  5. Braves – $5,707,300
  6. Athletics – $5,303,000
  7. Diamondbacks – $5,016,300
  8. Phillies – $4,780,400
  9. Brewers – $4,570,00
  10. Angels – $4,376,800
  11. White Sox – $4,199,200
  12. Pirates – $4,032,000
  13. Marlins – $3,875,800
  14. Royals – $3,727,600
  15. Astros – $3,588,200
  16. Yankees – $3,458,600
  17. Mariners – $3,333,200
  18. Tigers – $3,214,600
  19. Giants – $3,101,700
  20. Mets – $2,994,500
  21. Orioles – $2,892,400
  22. Blue Jays – $2,795,200
  23. Dodgers – $2,702,700
  24. Red Sox – $2,614,500
  25. Nationals – $2,530,400
  26. Rangers – $2,450,100
  27. Cubs – $2,373,300
  28. Blue Jays – $2,302,900
  29. Rangers – $2,238,900
  30. Cubs – $2,184,300

Immediately, you should probably notice that the difference between the slots at the top are far smaller than they have been in year’s past. As I mentioned, that’s by design. If you’d like to see the rest of the individual bonus slots for every team, head over to Baseball America.

The rest of the Cubs picks have the following bonus pool slots:

  • 2nd Round (Pick 67): $ 901,900
  • 3rd Round (Pick 105): $ 511,900
  • 4th Round (Pick 135): $ 382,300
  • 5th Round (Pick 165): $ 285,800
  • 6th Round (Pick 195): $ 222,600
  • 7th Round (Pick 225): $ 175,500
  • 8th Round (Pick 255): $ 148,500
  • 9th Round (Pick 285): $ 137,500
  • 10th Round (Pick 315): $ 131,300

Grand Total First Ten Rounds: $7,454,900 (18th highest in baseball)

Despite holding the last pick in the first round (for having the best record last season), the Chicago Cubs actually have the 18th highest bonus pool in the draft, thanks to their extra pick.

The St. Louis Cardinals, by contrast, have the lowest bonus pool in the draft ($2,176,000), after forfeiting their first-round pick for Dexter Fowler and sending their second-round and supplemental second round pick to the Astros as penalty for the hacking scandal.

The Penalties

Those bonus pools and slot values matter because if a team exceeds its bonus pool, it is subject to penalties. And note, if a team fails to sign a player, the slot value from that pick is removed from the bonus pool. This is why you’ll see teams heavily taking college seniors in the 6 to 10 round range: the team can sign those players for $10,000, and “save” money to be applied elsewhere in the Draft.


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Also note that picks after the 10th round have no slot value (and you don’t lose any bonus pool money for failing to sign them), but any amount given to them in excess of $125,000 (up from $100,000 last year) counts against the bonus pool.

Any team that exceeds its pool by 0 to 5% must pay a 75% tax on the amount of the overage. Any team that exceeds its pool by more than 5% but less than 10% must pay a 75% tax on the amount of the overage AND loses a first round draft pick next year. Any team that exceeds its pool by more than 10% but less than 15% must pay a 100% tax on the amount of the overage AND loses a first round draft pick next year AND loses a second round draft pick next year. Any team that exceeds its pool by more than 15% must pay a 100% tax on the amount of the overage AND lose a first round draft pick in each of the next TWO drafts.

Given that penalty structure, it was unsurprising to see the Cubs gladly exceed their pool the last few years, but by an amount less than 5% over the pool. Assuming they’re willing to pay the tax again this year (they will be), you can think of the Cubs’ bonus pool as closer to $7,827,645. That’s more than $5 million more than their collective bonus pool last time around.

For more on each individual slot value and total bonus pools for every team, visit this article at Baseball America or this one from MLB.com


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And for more on the Cubs’ draft, check out the latest draft notes.


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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.

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