SBD/August 16, 2011/Franchises

Pirates Dole Out More Than $17M In Draft Bonuses, Setting New Record

Pirates gave No. 1 pick Gerrit Cole a record $8M signing bonus

The deadline for signing '11 MLB draft picks was midnight last night, and "when the dust settled, nearly every team got the players they wanted," according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. The day began with 23 of 33 first-round picks "unsigned and ended with all but one coming to terms with the team that drafted them back in June." The Pirates gave No. 1 overall pick P Gerrit Cole an $8M signing bonus to "set a record for a Minor League deal." The team also gave a $5M bonus to second-round pick Josh Bell. In total, the Pirates spent more than $17M in draft bonuses, a "new record." Each of the 22 first-round picks who signed on deadline day ended up getting a deal "above the recommended slot" from MLB. The Blue Jays "were not able to agree on a deal with Tyler Beede, who will honor his commitment" to Vanderbilt Univ. (MLB.com, 8/16). BASEBALL AMERICA's Conor Glassey notes for the "fifth year in a row, Major League Baseball tried to clamp down on draft bonuses ... and for the fifth year in a row, teams spent big money anyway." Teams "dished out signing bonuses worth a total of $69.6 million to lock up 21 of 22 unsigned first-round picks." Six draftees "received bonuses of $5 million of more." Cole's $8M bonus surpasses the $7.5M Nationals P Stephen Strasburg received two years ago as the "largest bonus in draft history." The "biggest surprise of the night came when the Pirates signed Bell," who was "dead-set on attending" the Univ. of Texas. His $5M bonus "set a record for a player drafted outside the first round, eclipsing the previous mark" by $2.25M (BASEBALLAMERICA.com, 8/16).

'11 MLB FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS
PICK
TEAM PLAYER
DATE SIGNED
CONTRACT
1
Pirates P Gerrit Cole
8/15
$8.00M
2
Mariners P Danny Hultzen
8/15
$8.50M
3
D'Backs P Trevor Bauer
7/25
$4.40M
4
Orioles P Dylan Bundy
8/15
$6.23M
5
Royals OF Bubba Starling
8/15
$7.50M
6
Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon
8/15
$7.20M
7
D'Backs P Archie Bradley
8/15
$5.00M
8
Indians SS Francisco Lindor
8/15
$2.90M
9
Cubs SS Javier Baez
8/15
$2.70M
10
Padres 2B Cory Spangenberg
6/10
$2.63M
11
Astros OF George Springer
8/15
$2.53M
12
Brewers P Taylor Jungmann
8/15
$2.53M
13
Mets OF Brandon Nimmo
8/15
$2.10M
14
Marlins P Jose Fernandez
8/15
$2.00M
15
Brewers P Jed Bradley
8/15
$2.00M
16
Dodgers P Chris Reed
8/12
$1.59M
17
Angels 1B C.J. Cron
6/28
$1.47M
18
A's P Sonny Gray
7/25
$1.54M
19
Red Sox P Matt Barnes
8/15
$1.50M
20
Rockies P Tyler Anderson
8/15
$1.50M
21
Blue Jays P Tyler Beede
Did not sign
22
Cardinals 2B Kolten Wong
6/25
$1.30M
23
Nationals P Alex Meyer
8/15
$2.00M
24
Rays P Taylor Guerrieri
8/15
$1.60M
25
Padres P Joseph Ross
8/15
$2.75M
26
Red Sox C Blake Swihart
8/15
$2.50M
27
Reds P Robert Stephenson
8/15
$2.00M
28
Braves P Sean Gilmartin
7/15
$1.13M
29
Giants SS Joseph Panik
6/11
$1.12M
30
Twins SS Levi Michael
8/15
$1.18M
31
Rays OF Mike Mahtook
8/15
$1.15M
32
Rays SS Jake Hager
6/23
$960,000
33
Rangers P Kevin Matthews
6/16
$940,000
   

PIRATES: In Pittsburgh, Michael Sanserino notes signing Cole and Bell "appeared somewhat of a long shot heading into Monday, and the feat is a bit of a coup" for Pirates GM Neal Huntington. The $17M the Pirates spent signing picks "will likely place them near the top of the league in terms of total investment for the fourth consecutive year." The team gave ninth-round selection Clay Holmes a $1.2M bonus, a "record deal for a player selected that late in the draft" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/16). MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch notes signing both Cole and Bell "was something most thought would be nearly impossible for the Pirates, even given Pittsburgh's commitment to paying above-slot dollars." Lauded for "committing close to $31 million in signing bonuses over the past three Drafts, the Pirates exceeded their previous franchise high ($11.9 million in 2010) by more than $5 million this year." With only three weeks remaining in the Minor League season, Cole and Bell "are not expected to make their professional debuts this year" (MLB.com, 8/16). Huntington said that as part of the "ebb and flow of negotiations, sometimes they felt like they had a good chance of signing both, and sometimes they felt like they had no chance." Signing Cole "wasn't so much a question of if, but for how much." Bell, however, had been so serious about honoring his commitment to UT that he "sent a letter to Major League Baseball's scouting bureau asking not to be drafted" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/16). MLB.com's Mayo said of Bell, "I’ve got to tell you, I told some people that I would fall off my chair, on the set, if he signed. I am very glad we are standing up right now” ("MLB Tonight Live," MLB Network, 8/15). 

BLUE JAYS: In Toronto, Mark Zwolinski reports the Blue Jays did not sign Beede after "coming up short in negotiations by a reported $1 million." Beede "was said to be asking for $3.5 million while the Jays were said to have offered $2.5 million." The Blue Jays will get the "22nd-overall pick next year as compensation for not signing Beede." The team did reach an agreement with second-round pick Dan Norris, reportedly for $2M, while signing supplemental first-round pick Kevin Comer and 13th-round pick Matt Dean. Zwolinksi writes Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos and his staff "certainly took an aggressive, even risky approach to this year's draft." They "went after Beede and Norris despite both players hinting at huge money values." The Blue Jays "paid well over slot for several players this year and have shown as an organization that they will set aggressive, competitive evaluations on players -- but not exceed them." The team "signed 33 of 55 players they drafted, and 11 of their top 13" (TORONTO STAR, 8/16). The Blue Jays' "first call to Beede last night came at 11:10 p.m." Beede said that they "called with their final offer at 11:55 p.m.," but he "stuck to his original request of $3.5 million." He said that the "negotiations ended there." Beede: "They were still far off. They ended up getting to $2.5 million, but that still wasn't what we valued the Vanderbilt education at. It was obviously the hardest decision I've ever had to make, but I'm tremendously excited" (WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE, 8/16). Anthopoulos said, "I've always felt when it comes to the draft, I don't know that there's a whole lot to negotiate" (MLB.com, 8/16).

ROYALS: In K.C., Rustin Dodd notes the Royals' signing of No. 5 overall pick Bubba Starling ended "perhaps the most watched negotiations in franchise history." Starling "set aside his flirtation" with the Univ. of Nebraska to play football and "accepted the Royals’ offer of a club-record signing bonus." The deal "will pay Starling $7.5 million spread over three years." Agent Scott Boras "advised Starling throughout the summer and at one point was believed to be seeking a deal approaching $10 million." Had he chosen to attend Nebraska, Starling would have been the "highest first-round pick to go unsigned" since J.D. Drew was selected No. 2 by the Phillies in '97. In Starling, the Royals acquire an "extremely marketable player" (K.C. STAR, 8/16). Royals GM Dayton Moore said of the Royals' owners, "I've got to thank the Glass family for all of the support they continue to give us as we add to our organization" (MLB.com, 8/16).

NATIONALS: In DC, Adam Kilgore reports the Nationals "signed their first five picks for roughly $16.5 million combined, smashing the signing bonuses recommended by Major League Baseball’s slot system with all five players." It "sent a message: The Nationals will try to build a winner through the draft, sparing little expense." Nationals GM Mike Rizzo: "We’re the talk of the industry right now. This just solidifies us, to me, as one of the great scouting and player development organizations in baseball." Kilgore notes if the Nationals had "adhered to the signing bonuses recommended by MLB, they would have spent about $5.2 million" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/16). Also in DC, Amanda Comak writes the Nationals "have not shied away from spending big-time money on the draft, dropping nearly $14 million last year on four players" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/16).

ORIOLES: In Baltimore, Jeff Zrebiec reports the Orioles inked No. 4 overall pick Dylan Bundy to a five-year MLB contract that "includes a $4 million signing bonus." Orioles Dir of Amateur Scouting Joe Jordan said a report that Bundy got a guaranteed $6.225M is "in the ballpark." The Orioles knew Bundy "would be tough to sign." Before the draft he "made it known that he was looking for a $30 million signing bonus." However, both sides "knew that figure wasn't realistic, and Jordan maintained that he didn't plan to set any records in signing Bundy" (Baltimore SUN, 8/16).

AROUND THE HORN: In Seattle, Larry Stone cites sources as saying that No. 2 overall pick Danny Hultzen "received a $6.35 million signing bonus" from the Mariners, and the "maximum value of the deal is $10.6 million." The guarantee is the "fifth-largest in draft history." Hultzen was said to be "seeking a four-year, $13 million contract" (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/16)....The Rays "spent nearly $10-million on bonuses" for their top 12 draft picks. The Rays gave first-round pick Taylor Guerrieri a $1.6M bonus, which is "about $400,000 over the recommended slot" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 8/16)....Scott Boras' son, 30th-round pick Trent Boras "failed to reach an agreement" with the Brewers. Scott Boras said, "We made the decision long ago that we wanted him to go to college. The Brewers gave us every courtesy of working with him" (ESPN.com, 8/16).

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