According to Jim Callis, the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to a deal with UCLA shortstop Kevin Kramer, signing him to a $850,000 bonus. That’s a significant number, because it represents a savings of $144,500 compared to his slot value, which could then be put towards signing some over-slot picks in the later rounds. The Pirates had already saved up some money prior to this signing, so they seem to be in a good spot to add some better players after the tenth round.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. If they choose to spend as much as they can without being penalized a draft pick, they have around $540K — and that’s without the other top 10 round guys’ bonuses disclosed. They could offer 2 or 3 of their later picks 5th/6th round money pretty easily as is.

  2. Can anyone explain how these negotiations work? Why would any player – especially a second round pick – accept money below slot value? What leverage do the Pirates have other than the threat of not signing a player?

    • From the sounds of it, there are a lot of gentlemen’s agreements before picks. Lots of “if we take you with this upcoming pick, will you accept $XXXXX?” and then based on the player’s response you either take him or don’t.

      The reasons kids will take less:
      1. Expectations of where they’ll go if they say “no”
      2. Security

      If a kid goes in expecting to be a 3rd rounder but can lock in 2nd round money — even if it’s below slot — then for many guys that’s probably worth it. If he says no and passes up the money, who knows how far he could potentially fall? If Kramer had fallen to the Pirates 3rd round pick and signed for slot, then he’s out $250K over what he just received.

      For college seniors, it’s different. They have no leverage. If they ultimately turn down whatever money they’re offered, then their baseball career is effectively over as far as playing for affiliates.

    • The negotiations are usually done ahead of time with picks that high, at least now under the new system. They probably called Kramer, said will you sign for $800k, he said yes, so they took him in the second round. I’m willing to bet they had a great idea what each pick in the top ten rounds would cost and as a player, would you really want to give them a number, then change your mind and hold out after they picked you? Not exactly a good way to start your time in an organization

      • Thanks Pirateball11 and John Dreker- That does make sense, but when would the negotiations take place if you don’t know which players are going to be available? Does that mean the Pirates are having preliminary negotiations with every player on their big board in case they are available at the Pirates pick? Or does that mean the Pirates mostly have their draft decided before draft day?

        • From what it sounds like, part the area scouts’ job is to have a pretty good idea of what each kid he scouts is willing to sign for. So that probably helps narrow down their big board pretty significantly at each slot value — then from there they can call and confirm that he’s willing to take it, and if he’s not then they’ll move to the next guy on the list in that price range.

        • Scouts talk to them and they make phone calls during the process. Sometimes that player will get taken earlier, but they call a lot of them, not just the one they hope to get. For the most part, the player gives them a number and they take that player where the number works best. If they skipped on Kramer for someone else in the second, they may not have taken him in the third round, knowing what it would take to sign him, but they would probably call to check just in case.

        • It’s a business. Also, the leverage comes down to…you’ve already graduated, do you want to play pro ball or not? Because if you slip, as a player in that position, it’s just going to be even less money and still no leverage.

        • Well if he wanted too much money, then you don’t take him and he ends up falling. If he doesn’t get taken until the third round and a team sticks to the slot, he could have ended up with as little as $548k. It’s not taking advantage of a player, the slot is a suggestion, not “the correct price”. The Pirates third round pick is only worth $592K, so they would have passed on Kramer there because he wanted $850K and they aren’t going to go $200K over slot to sign him. Kramer had his price ahead of time and they took him where he fit best.

      • So, its really not necessarily taking the best player available…but more like taking the best player available who will accept a given amount for that round….its not a criticism necessarily, as I am sure other teams do the same thing. But, it does explain some of the rather curious picks that some teams make….

        • Well after the tenth pick, the best player available was out the window already as Daz Cameron fell to 37th due to bonus demands. You can’t always take the best player available anymore because the draft bonus cap won’t allow it. It’s not possible under the new system. There were probably 100 players taken after the tenth round who were better than guys taken in the top ten round, but their bonus demands hurt their draft status.

    • Also, it’s a lot of money. I’m sure most of these kids will take whatever they think they can get paid and max that out, but ultimately, they’re still getting a lot of money to embark on an opportunity to make a lot more money, all while playing a game for a living. It might simply not matter too much the actual bonus amount or the actual slot value for some kids.

      • Kids have parents, an agent and at times others making sure they dont do what you just said. I mean, yeah, to us whatever they get is stupid good money to play a game. But they have talent and that talent does (or can) demand a certain price. Taking a little less than max slot value is normal, but i guarantee they dont just take whatever and think before the process “it really doesnt matter what the amount is” because thats earnings and he could never make more than minor league money.

        • Yes that was like what Alvarez did! Yes I agree oh you didn’t fax the offer in now I want more. That process that he and Boras did was a shame. But look he has already made $20,000 000

          • Absolutely not what i said at all. I said that i player wont, and has no reason to, go into the draft with the idea that “anything i get fine because ill be getting to play baseball”. That’d be insane of any person to do, which is why no one leaves it totally up to the 18 year old to make the call. You give him advice (as in hey this is what you can likely demand) and go from there.

            I dont like Boras from the standpoint of being a fan and wanting all the players to come to PIT, but this level of hate is irrational. Boras is annoying because he does his job damn well and gets his players money. Good for him. I hate it, but good for him. The process that he and Boras did was A) likely not what you assume it was from whatever the media runs with and B) enough to get his player a really nice deal.

          • No, the process that Boras did was working for his client. I hate when fans act like players/agents shouldnt work for the most money possible. As if any of us wouldnt work for max money, and imo its pure speculation on the whole fax issue. Fans love to think they know the realities of negotiations, and we rarely know the legit details.

  3. I expected him to sign under slot, but I didn’t expect that big of a difference. That money will be useful.

    • I sort of thought it might have even been lower than that based on his scouting report in BA. They loved his makeup and attitude but rated him as #133, then said “already has his degree and is signable as a 4th year Junior, should send him out higher in the draft than his pure tools might suggest.” I interpret all of that to mean he had very little leverage for the number he was drafted. But, another very heady ballplayer.

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