It took 17 first-rounders to sign before one received a bonus that exceeded MLB’s reduced slot recommendations. Arizona high school righthander Tim Alderson, the No. 22 overall pick, signed with the Giants on Monday for $1.29 millionâ€”just $7,500 over slot.
MLB has cut back its recommendations by 10 percent this year, and there still hasn’t been a first-rounder who has matched or surpassed the 2006 slot for his pick. The 17 who have signed have averaged $1,483,235 in bonuses, and their slots have averaged $1,523,382. A year ago, the first-rounders in the same slots averaged $1,794,117 in bonuses (21 percent higher than in 2007) and $1,692,647 in MLB recommendations (11 percent higher).
Several teams are believed to have agreed to terms with draftees for significantly above-slot bonuses, among them the Yankees with Texas third baseman Brad Suttle (fourth round) and Louisiana high school shortstop Carmen Angelini (10th round) and the Tigers with Illinois prep lefthander Casey Crosby (fifth round). But no club has been willing to step forward and announce the first such deal. Those revelations may not happen until just before the new Aug. 15 signing deadline.
“Every club is trying to wait right now,” an American League scouting director said, “but things are going to get blown out of the water. It’s just that no one wants to be the first team to do so. I think everyone is trying to appease the commissioner by waiting so the deals can’t be used as leverage by agents.”
To this point, only five players are known to have received more than slot money, none by a significant margin. Florida high school righthander Jiwan James signed with the Phillies in the 22nd round for $150,000, exceeding the maximum $123,300 recommended for picks after the fifth round by $26,700. James, an exceptional athlete whom some teams preferred as an outfielder, drew basketball and football interest from the University of Florida, where he had signed a baseball scholarship.
Besides Alderson and James, the others exceeding slot recommendations are California high school lefthander Danny Duffy (Royals, third round), Puerto Rico prep shortstop Fernando Cruz (Royals, sixth round) and Georgia Tech shortstop Michael Fisher (Braves, sixth round). Duffy signed for $365,000 ($500 over slot), while Cruz and Fisher each got $125,000 ($1,700 above MLB guidelines).
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