Major League Baseball has made good on its promise to try to drive signing bonuses down. According to information acquired by Baseball America, bonuses are down in the first round and throughout the first five rounds of the draft. The 13 first-round picks that have signed so far all have signed for deals at or below 90 percent of last year’s slot, and no club has bucked the recommendations set by MLB’s commissioner’s office yet.
An even more telling sign of the discipline MLB has imposed on clubs in the draft shows up in rounds 5-10. The final bonus slot of the fifth round went to Yankees pick Adam Olbrychowski, who got $123,000. As MLB’s Frank Coonelly told BA in early June, just prior to the draft, MLB tracks the first five rounds of the draft, but clubs have to run their above-slot bonuses past Coonelly and the commissioner’s office even after the first five rounds.
So far, clubs don’t seem willing to do that, but they are willing to give players something close to what Olbrychowski got. Apparently there’s been miscommunication among the clubs, because some players are getting $123,300 and others are getting $123,000. But the number of players with those bonus figures jumps out–in the sixth round, for example, 14 players got bonuses between $120-$125,000. In the seventh round, nine players signed for between $110-$123,000, and no one has received a bonus over $123,300 after the sixth round.
As usual, it stinks to be a college senior. Clemson righthander Stephen Clyne might have sparked a bidding war had the Tigers not made it to the postseason, but once Clemson reached a super-regional, Clyne went into the draft pool and got a $100,000 bonus as third-round pick (123rd overall). Clemson third baseman Marquez Smith, a redshirt junior, signed for just $30,000 in the eighth round, and it was worse for 10th-round seniors Greg Sexton of William & Mary and Arkansas’ Danny Hamblin. Sexton, a third-team All-American, signed for just $8,000, while Hamblin–an unsigned ninth-round pick a year ago–signed for $7,500 as a 10th-rounder this year, despite tying for the Southeastern Conference lead with 22 home runs this spring.
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