According to Jon Heyman, the Pittsburgh Pirates offered 41st overall pick Nick Lodolo their entire remaining bonus pool to sign. Heyman reports that they offered $1.75M, which he turned down to attend TCU, as reported here a few days ago. The actual offer for Lodolo was likely slightly higher at $1,761,470, which is all they had left in their bonus pool before they would lose a draft pick.

The signing deadline for the 2016 draft is 5:00 PM tonight. As I broke down in this article, there are still 13 other unsigned picks, with at least five of them already saying they will return to school. The other eight are all covered at the bottom of that article.

The Pirates used their remaining $105,000 in bonus pool money to sign right-handed pitcher Austin Shields according to John Manuel. He was the highest rated remaining player after Lodolo who was unsigned. Shields was the 33rd round pick, which comes with a $100,000 slot, so only the $105,000 counts against the bonus pool. If they are to sign any other players today, they would cost $100,000 or less to sign. You can view the player page for Shields here. He is a high upside, huge right-handed pitcher, so this was as good as you can expect for a fallback plan after Lodolo.

As for Lodolo, it’s a bit surprising that the Pirates offered him the full amount because his upside isn’t really that different from the other three prep players they signed for a total of $2M. Some people had fourth round pick Braeden Ogle rated higher, while others had 11th round pick Max Kranick rated higher. As we found out with second round pick Travis MacGregor, there were some good reasons to rank him even higher than most draft experts did. The same held true for Ogle and Kranick.

Lodolo had said he wanted to go to school and set his bonus demands high before the draft. That doesn’t mean a team should just be willing to meet those demands because they have the money left, because you then set a standard for future picks when you overpay. Lodolo still would have been able to attend TCU if his baseball career didn’t work out, as pro contracts for high school players include extra money for college if the player chooses to attend. So he also turned down that part of the deal on top of the bonus.

The Pirates will get the 42nd overall pick next year as compensation for him not signing. That means the could have a much larger bonus pool than this year, depending on where their first round pick ends up and whether or not they get a competitive balance pick in the draft lottery. The odds are good that they will get a pick, although they didn’t get one back in 2015.

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83 COMMENTS

  1. The baseball draft has bizarre elements to it.
    1. Nick Lodolo, ranked 85th(late second early third round talent) announces pre-draft that he won’t sign and is going to TCU. Pirates never contact him pre-draft and take him 41st overall. Lodolo stays true to his announced intentions and turns down $1.75M from the Pirates.
    2.Max Kranick, ranked 84th overall( same level of talent as Lodolo), lasts until the 11th round, 345 overall and signs for $300K.
    3.Austin Shields, ranked 189(5th-6th round talent) lasts until the 33rd round, 1005 overall and signs for $205.
    There is no correlation between talent and draft position in many cases and the prep guys who say they will sign get penalized. A prep guy who says he won’t sign gets money thrown at him? I like the prep guys we signed……………I hate the draft structure.

  2. As an observer from a distance, it is really hard to see what Lodolo has gained here. Sure he could end up in a situation like Gerrit Cole, but probabilities are very low.

    • I agree with what you said about how it’s hard to see what he has gained. Cole was a legitimate first round pick though. Lodolo was over-drafted. Not sure what the Pirates’ thinking was. Either way, I doubt Lodolo is offered a $1.75 million signing bonus the next time he is drafted, if he even gets drafted again.

      • Mark Appel was greedy turning down Pittsburgh’s 1st Round millions to go back to Stanford for his senior year.
        Completing his senior year Houston drafted him in 1st Round signing him. He failed miserably in Huston’s farm system and they traded him to Philadelphia. He is still struggling in the Philies farm system. He did get his college degree and millions from Houston but his baseball career will be a wash. At age 25 he just had surgery and is out for the year 2016.

        http://www.rotoworld.com/player/mlb/6997/mark-appel

  3. If he took the Pirates money and invested it. He probably could have about 2.5 million(before taxes) by time he could be drafted again. We are probably talking that he has to be a top 20 pick to match his money that was offered to him.

    Does he have a girlfriend going to TCU?

    Maybe TCU pays really well

    • After paying his agent and taxes…$2.5M would be tripling his investment in just 2-3 years. Give me the name of that fund…I want to drop my money into it.

  4. Great response Leefoo. Wouldn’t it be crazy if Shields turns out to be the better prospect/player then Lodolo!

  5. Mets had very little in the way of prospects at the time of the Walker trade, Smith and Rosario would not have been available to them. So what would they have gotten.

  6. John, the Pirates drafted Jacobs Stallings in the eight round and signed him for $10k to free up pool money for Appel.

    Is there some kind of overdraft like that this year?

    • I don’t know if I’d consider Stallings an overdraft because he was a respected defensive catcher. Baseball America called him a top ten round pick before the draft He was just a college senior with no leverage. The Pirates paid Matt Anderson $10k in the tenth round, but he was probably a tenth round type talent, just being a senior his choice is not sign and wait a year to possibly play, or sign for $10,000 and play

  7. Wow anyone hear HN’s remarks. Said he should have taken prospects from Mets instead of Niese. I think his days are numbered.

    • I don’t live in Pittsburgh but my friend texted me this morning. I was surprised. I mean, I agree with him. But usually you make that kind of remark in the offseason, the following year, whatever. But not when he’s still on the team. Good for NH. Didn’t love the trade at the time but I understood it. Niese came out with a passive aggressive tone with what they were trying to do with him. I’m sure that rubbed NH the wrong way.

      • It was sometime around 9 from what I gather. I’d love to hear it. NH admitting they made a mistake trading for someone currently on the roster……..”Oh hey Jon, did you hear my interview this morning? You did? Ok. Have a good one. I have COMPLETE confidence in you.”

      • Bill’s right…it was brutal. NH said this hours before the bullpen demotion was announced. This club has a track record of moving guys who criticize the coaches or the GM ….Walker. Michael Morse, Niese to the pen before they send him away. he also criticized his own judgement in taking Niese.

  8. John, Shields was No. 189 on #BA500, but lasted until the 33rd round? How is that? Any insight?

    • Probably just bonus demands. Also he is from Canada, playing a limited schedule, so not many people probably saw him, or at least saw him often. The 33rd round really isn’t any different from the 11th for high school kids. Teams know the bonuses and then if they have money left and think the bonus isn’t too high, then they will eventually take him. With a lot of the negotiating going on ahead of time now, there are some teams who knew on day two he wouldn’t fit their budget

  9. I think baseball fans consistently undersell the value of going to college (free, for that matter). The social experience and development is incalculable. Being in classes and dorms with young men and women of all different types, with different interests and goals, is an experience you cannot get as a minor league ballplayer.

    Also, $1.75M can go pretty quickly. Plenty of guys top out in AA or so, never getting a decent salary. Retiring at 27 with $1M in the bank sounds okay, but with no college degree or non-baseball skills/experience, what do you do with your life?

    I’d probably take the money. It’s reasonable to take the money. But it’s not crazy to choose college.

    • College baseball may be different, but the college experience for D1 football and basketball players tends to be very different than our notion of the college experience. Generally they’re not interacting with a diverse student population–they often have their own dorms and eating halls, and the hours spent in practice and travel limit other opportunities to interact with “typical” college students.

      There are exceptions (and again, I realize college baseball at the D1 level may be different).

    • The social experience and development is incalculable.
      I agree…I went from being a blithering immature idiot to just an immature idiot.

      But, I’d take the money. It’d be different if he was a 12th round pick.

      I will be watching him the next 3 years. I hope a) he enjoys college and b) he doesn’t fall to the 33rd round by his junior year.

      It’d be interesting to do a study on HS players who are drafted high out of high school and if more dropped or rose.

      Paging Matt Harrington. Paging Matt Harrington.

      • Without doing any research and just pulling this out of my ass…

        I’m going to guess that a lot, if not most, of the high-selected college players were also, drafted coming out of high school. I could be wrong…as I said…I’m not doing any research.

        However, I’ll also just totally guess that guys drafted in the first round in high school are probably a crap shoot when they reenter the draft…with most of them falling lower.

        EDIT: Meh…decided to scratch the surface…of the 23 college players drafted in the first round of 2005, 16 had not been previously drafted, 7 had. Obviously, this is only one year just the first round of it…so it doesn’t really say much…except the Luke Hochevar was the big winner. He passed on being taken in the 39th round and ended up going at the back of the first.

    • He would have been able to go to school free anyway, it comes with all HS players who sign via the MLB scholarship fund. So he didn’t give up free schooling, at worst, he delayed it. The thing to figure here is if he has the means to just give up on $1.75M, then you figure he probably would have been okay even afterwards if his baseball career went nowhere. He really took a chance here. As a HS player getting that much, he will be given every chance to succeed. If he flames out in college at ends up as a low round draft pick, sometimes those players have almost no chance to succeed because they’re immediately backups or bullpen players with limited chance to show anything

      • The only thing lost by signing is the chance to play college baseball. College is always available

  10. Well, if true – you can’t fault the Pirates. My biggest criticisms of the Pirates draft were picking Craig (over Perez) and offering way too much to the SS from Tulane – seemed to me they should have been able to sign him for less….I think they gave him around $1m.

    • Yeah, little off on that one. Alemais got half that amount, and his $500,000 bonus was a good bit under slot. That said, I’d hoped they’d save more than that on him too but at this point it’s all water under the bridge.

      • My mistake then…I thought Alemais got $900k or something along those lines…must have confused him with someone else.

  11. The Pirates did their best. If they QO Melacon I assume they would get another pick. This should work out in the long run. Don’t fault the kid- he made a decision and it was between himself and the Pirates. Obviously he had considerably more facts than what we are privy.

    • Will be risky to QO Melancon – he just might accept…
      That ties up a lot of money in 4 players
      Cutch $14.2
      Liriano $13.6
      Cervelli $9.0
      Melancon $15+
      Over $50M for 4 players add in J-Hay at just under $8M and it gets a bit scary…

    • An education?

      Don’t get me wrong, I would have signed in a heartbeat. But maybe this kid just really wanted to go to school and experience it as an age appropriate student. Don’t be so quick to throw harsh judgement at the kid since you probably know nothing about him or his thought process.

      • Patrick- if the kid made the decision based off that, he’s an idiot instead of being greedy and I don’t want an idiot on my team any more than I want a greedy kid on my team. Neither is good. That is the type of person whom decides to smoke pot knowing he’ll get put on suspension, just because he wants to. I’ll pass…..

        • Mark Appel was greedy turning down Pittsburgh’s 1st Round millions to go back to Stanford for his senior year.
          Completing his senior year Houston drafted him in 1st Round signing him. He failed miserably in Huston’s farm system and they traded him to Philadelphia. He is still struggling in the Philies farm system. He did get his college degree and millions from Houston but his baseball career will be a wash. At age 25 he just had surgery and is out for the year 2016.

          http://www.rotoworld.com/player/mlb/6997/mark-appel

      • Nope, we trash him because as Tim said- we GIVE him the opportunity to go to school. he quite simply didn’t sign because he thinks he can go higher two years from now and get more money. No. Other. Reason. So yeah, I trash that with no regrets. Its a stupid stupid stupid financial move.

      • Terry- he rejected money to get more later……he had ridiculously high signing $$$ amount demands up front- he didn’t sign because of greed.

    • Oh the irony of this post calling the kid an idiot, riiiight before saying the kid who passed up2 million now is greedy.

      But trashing an 18 year old is a good look, quality post.

      • I have some serious concerns about your mental health if you really believe what you just said.

        If the Pirates will pay for your college anyways, the only possible motivation of going to college vs. going to pitch for a top major league team is in order to get MORE money later by betting on yourself going higher in the draft two years from now. There is no other reason. That- is called greed- or just a remarkable amount of stupidity (which I guess isn’t that rare at 18 years old as I didn’t think real clearly at that age either)- but neither one of those things would make him someone i’d want to waste the 1.7 million on as an organization, so i’m glad he didn’t sign…..just like i’m glad Appel didn’t sign.

    • Greedy? No, but he is an idiot. You don’t pass on millions, especially when there’s no risk to get it like in nfl.

  12. Glad to see they could sign Shields. When Lodolo wouldn’t sign, I hoped the Pirates would sign Shields. More money next year to spend as well. Always a good thing.

  13. This worked out as nice as possible for the Pirates. I don’t doubt that Lodolo has talent, but when someone is that far away and you have a chance to get a very similar player, plus the 42nd overall pick next year, I think you take that every time. I won’t give them too much credit because they obviously were willing to overspend to get Lodolo, but this ended up working out great. Shields is a huge kid with tons of upside and a steal at $205,000, while the 42nd overall pick next year could easily land a better player than Lodolo.

    • after reading the pirates were not going to offer lodolo his slot money
      but now this i’m aghast.

    • Plus I think Lodolo turning down a chance to get into a professional developmental system says something about his motivation for making it to the majors. (Of course Cole made a similar decision and I doubt there are many players more driven than Cole.)

      • Eh, or he really wants to go to college now and become a top 20 pick and have the motivation and drive to try to see that through.

        An 18 year old deciding to go to school says 0 about lack of motivation. You can call him naive but lack of motivation seems odd for a kid who has accomplished all he has.

        • All he has accomplished? Seems to me he was largely drafted on potential based on his physical attributes. If he is to accomplish anything significant, then that’s all in the future. We’ll see.

          • Fair enough, but I find it silly to question a kids drive based off nothing.

            And that is what this is, nothing. He decided to go to a top tier baseball college program rather than enter the pros at age 18. Nothing about that lacks motivation.

            • And fair enough to you too. I think it’s a poor decision if one’s primary goal is to make the majors. But it may work out, and I don’t know enough about how TCU develops pitchers to comment on the specifics (my general worry is that some programs let their pitchers rack up high pitch counts which compromises long-term health; hopefully TCU is not like that).

      • Tons of great players were drafted in high school and turned it down to go to college. This shows nothing about his motivation to make it to the majors.

        • I’m still surprised, to put it mildly. Mr. Lodolo is gambling 2 years (is that right) of his life on the possibility of making more than $1.76 million as the 41st (which aint “chopped liver”!) overall pick in the draft next time! Phew!!!

    • So if I’m figuring this right, instead of signing Lodolo, they signed Kranick (taking away 200K from Lodolo’s offer in the process which probably wasn’t going to sway him anyway), signed Shields and still get 42 next year?

      • You might be able to count Kranick in there too. I wouldn’t have before today because I doubted they would have offered Lodolo over-slot to sign. Now that I know they did, maybe they would have went higher if the money was there. They went a lot over for Ogle too, so you really can’t just figure Kranick in there and say it was all him.

        The basic summary was if they signed Lodolo, they wouldn’t have got Shields and the 42nd pick next year. They came out on top in my opinion, though only because Lodolo decided that for them. Shields is a huge powerful kid who gets it up to 94 already. He was a 5th round type of talent, while Lodolo was rated around early 3rd round on average. I’ll take the trade-off every time because the 42nd pick next year has a great chance of being a better player

    • kozikowski would have been a college sr this year. and all likelyhood
      playing at morgantown. six of one spells….billy roth.

  14. Can someone remind me of how the competitive balance picks work again? It has to do with being in the 10 smallest markets or revenue pools?

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