The current MLB bonus pool rules for the draft impose harsh penalties if teams go over their bonus pool limit. The Pirates have a limit of $7,392,200 in the first ten rounds this year, and to sign anyone beyond the tenth round to over-slot deals, they would need to create some room by signing guys in the top ten rounds to under-slot deals.

So far, they’ve already done that to the point where they can afford an over-slot prep pitcher in the middle rounds. And they have already signed that prep pitcher. Here is the math, from the Draft Pick Signing Tracker:

Round

Player

Bonus

Pool

Difference

1

Kevin Newman

$2,175,000

$2,273,800

-$98,800

1

Ke’Bryan Hayes

$1,855,000

$1,855,000

$0

6

J.T. Brubaker

$200,000

$246,500

-$46,500

8

Seth McGarry

$150,000

$168,800

-$18,800

9

Bret Helton

$150,000

$157,600

-$7,600

22

Nathan Trevillian

$250,000

$100,000

$150,000

TOTAL

-$21,700

The Pirates saved money with first round pick Kevin Newman, sixth round pick J.T. Brubaker, eighth round pick Seth McGarry, and ninth round pick Bret Helton. None of these deals provided a ton of savings, but combined, they were enough to save the team $171,700 from their bonus pool. Any player signed after the tenth round can be given up to $100,000 without that amount counting towards the pool. That means the Pirates had up to $271,700 to give to a single pick after the tenth round.

I say “had”, because as you can see above, they have already gone over-slot on 22nd round pick, Nathan Trevillian. The right-handed pitcher signed for $250,000, which takes $150,000 away from the bonus pool. He’s a projectable pitcher who has already hit 90 MPH and has some good downward movement on his fastball. And his signing means that the Pirates currently have $21,700 remaining in their bonus pool for over-slot deals, assuming everyone else signs for slot.

That won’t happen though, as we’ve already seen. Five of the players drafted in the top ten rounds have signed, and four were under-slot deals. The amounts weren’t huge, but together they allowed the Pirates to sign a guy beyond the tenth round, paying him a sixth round bonus.

I’d expect a lot more of this to come. The Pirates drafted a lot of guys in the top ten rounds who should sign for close to slot, but slightly below that amount, giving them extra money to spend in the later rounds. And we’ve already heard of a few players beyond the tenth round who are open to signing, and who won’t take much money to sign. It looks like they’re taking the 2013 Billy Roth/Nick Buckner approach, rather than the 2014 Gage Hinsz approach, where they are spreading money around to several different players, rather than just one guy.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. With a slot value around a million bucks, Kevin Kramer seems like a pick that could save considerable money.

    I also wonder if Jacob Taylor will need a boost over slot; recent pitching convert with raw skills but a big arm and was already a top 100 prospect. A big season at LSU could easily put him in 2nd round range, which would more than double his slot value now.

    • He did, but he’s just a command and finesse lefty, not entirely uncommon so I think they could still get him pretty cheap. Also, did you notice how he bends his knees considerably before beginning his windup? Maybe it’s just me, but that seemed kind of unusual.

  2. The Bucs also have up to 5% of their bonus pool to use on post round 10 picks as well, correct? That’s roughly $370K.

    • They do, although they’d pay a 50% tax on the overage, and wouldn’t be eligible for money from other teams who paid a similar tax. They’ve done this the last two years, although it definitely inflates the deals beyond what the players receive. Because you’re paying for the player, you’re paying the tax, and then missing out on extra revenue. Someone like Gage Hinsz, who only cost $480,000 over the bonus pool, might have actually cost them $1 M or more, all things considered.

      • Which I’m hoping is something they’d gladly do every year, considering pre-2012 they were spending millions more on the draft than they can now. I imagine the few hundred thousand in taxes and lost revenue does them more good to get an extra player signed than it does going into the team’s bank account, and the total expenses are still much less than the pre-2012 budget.

  3. I thought I saw one player signing that included the Pirates paying for four years of college. Does that college tuition count against the cap?

      • thanks for the info, didn’t know this. If I were the Pirates, I would start offering scholarships to Harvard to get around the current system.

        • I was thinking about that, wondering if there are any regulations here. I’m guessing it would be the player’s choice of college, and that they’d only be paying if he actually attended.

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