The 2019 MLB Draft begins on June 3, less than a month away.
For the Cubs, despite a disappointing ending the 2018 season, they won a lot of games, and thus won’t pick until 27th in the first round – three picks later than last year when they snagged Nico Hoerner at 24 overall. Of course, once you get outside the top 10 or so, the range of where guys can be selected is sufficiently wide that there’s not a huge difference between having selection 24 or 27, and the Cubs can clearly still make some hay in that range.
But the picks are nevertheless not identical. Not only are you picking a few spots later, but the bonus slot value associated with the pick – value that adds into the bonus pool you can spend on the draft as a whole – can be several hundred thousand dollars lower.
Baseball America tabulated this year’s total bonus pools (and also published the slot values for all of the picks in the top 10 rounds, from which the bonus pools are created), and the Cubs’ pool will be $5,826,900, the fifth lowest total in baseball. To get a sense of the disparity there, the Pirates have the 11th largest pool, and it’s nearly $10 million. The draft is definitely designed to be an equalizer, and also favors small market/small revenue clubs who get competitive balance picks each year (and have better draft-related consequences/benefits tied to qualified free agents).
The good news is that teams can exceed their pool by up to 5% and suffer only modest monetary consequences, which the Cubs have done every year under this front office (and not every organization does). So their pool is really more like $6.12 million, and affords them a little more flexibility to spend over slot where they deem appropriate.
That’s still a relatively modest pool compared to the rest of the league, which means the Cubs’ scouting and player development departments will really have to knock it out of the park if they’re going to continue rebuilding the farm system while the big league team keeps them picking near the end of the first round.