No Matter The Slots, Teams Spent Freely In 2011




Follow me on Twitter


See also: Charting how the slots compared to the actual contracts (subscribers' only)


Like a chemically enhanced Barry Bonds, major league teams crushed record after record at the Aug. 15 deadline for signing 2011 draft picks.

With teams swinging for the fences in their quest to mine one of the most talented drafts in recent memory, they spent $132,098,500 in bonuses and a total of $139,098,500 (including additional guarantees in major league contracts for Danny Hultzen, Trevor Bauer, Dylan Bundy, Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke) on deadline day. Those figures obliterated the previous records of $91,155,600 and $97,205,600 from a year earlier.

The spending frenzy included $69.6 million in bonuses and $73.2 million in guarantees to lock up 22 of the 23 first-round picks who entered the day unsigned. The lone first-rounder to get away, No. 21 overall pick Tyler Beede, turned down $2.4 million from the Blue Jays in favor of attending Vanderbilt.

The Aug. 15 deals pushed the average first-round bonus to $2,653,375, surpassing the previous record of $2,458,714 in 2008. That figure actually had declined in the previous two drafts, to $2,434,800 in 2009 and $2,220,966 in 2010.

For the summer, teams combined to spend $228,009,050 on bonuses and $236,059,050 in guarantees. Those are 16 and 17 percent increased from the previous marks established in 2010: $195,782,830 and $201,832,830 in 2010.

The Pirates, who gave a record $8 million bonus to No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole and set another mark for non-first-rounders by paying $5 million to second-rounder Josh Bell, spent a total of $17,005,700. That obliterated the old bonus standard of $11,927,200 set by the 2010 Nationals.

The Nationals didn't relinquish that record without a fight, spending $15,002,100 in bonuses. Additional guarantees to Rendon and Purke bring Washington's overall total to $17,602,100. The record for the most guaranteed money spent in a single draft remains $19,118,604 by the 2009 Nationals, the bulk of which was a $15,107,104 big league contract for No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg.

The Royals ($14,066,000), Cubs ($11,994,550) and Diamondbacks ($11,930,000) also surpassed Washington's old bonus record. The Rays ($11,482,900), Mariners ($11,330,500), Padres ($11,020,600), Blue Jays ($10,996,500) and Red Sox ($10,978,700) brought the total of teams spending $10 million or more to 10. Only seven teams previously had topped $10 million in bonus spending, all in 2008-10.

At the other end of the spectrum, the White Sox ranked last at $2,786,300. The Tigers were the only other team below $3 million at $2,878,700, less than the $3.45 million they paid supplemental first-round pick Nick Castellanos in 2010. Both Chicago and Detroit did sign at least one player in excess of the bonus guidelines established by MLB, as did each of the 30 teams. That had happened only once before, in 2009.

The explosion in spending occurred despite the best efforts of the commissioner's office, which leaned on teams harder than ever to adhere to an informal slotting system. MLB recommends specific bonuses for every pick in the first round and a flat maximum for every pick after the fifth round, and exerts political pressure on clubs to toe the line. This year's gameplan included getting teams to wait until the final day to officially extend an above-slot offer to most first-round picks and several college juniors (who have less leverage than high schoolers or draft-eligible sophomores).

At the draft in June, Commissioner Bud Selig reiterated his desire for mandatory slotting in the next collective bargaining agreement after the current deal expires in December. Hard slotting also was one of the primary focuses of quarterly owners' meetings that began Aug. 17, but the MLB Players Association shot down such a plan in the last CBA negotiations and industry insiders say it's unlikely that the union would accept it this time around.

Ironically, the potential for bonus limits helped fuel this year's rise in spending. Teams feared that mandatory slotting would compromise their ability to sign players—high schoolers in particular—and several increased their 2011 draft budgets in case it would be their final chance to splurge as they saw fit.

And splurge they did. These were the highlights from deadline day:

Biggest Deals, First Round

GERRIT COLE, RHP, PIRATES (NO. 1 OVERALL): Coming out of high school, Cole had the best pure stuff of any pitcher in the 2008 draft. The Yankees selected him in the first round, but by the time they were ready to begin serious negotiations that August, Cole had decided his heart was with UCLA. After three years with Bruins, Cole again had the most electric arm in the draft and parlayed it into the highest bonus in draft history. His $8 million surpassed the $7.5 million the Nationals gave No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg two years ago, though Strasburg still hold the record for the most guaranteed money with a $15,107,104 major league control. Cole reportedly turned down a reported five-year, $8.5 million big league deal in lieu of a straight bonus, which the Pirates must pay in full by the end of 2012.

DANNY HULTZEN, LHP, MARINERS (NO. 2 OVERALL): While Cole declined a similar deal, Hultzen accepted a five-year, $8.5 million contract, giving him the top guarantee in this draft and the fifth-largest in draft history. His $6.35 million bonus also is the fifth-highest ever. Because his deal is spread over five years, MLB calculates the net present value of his guaranteed money at $7,724,400. However, if as expected Hultzen makes the major leagues to stay by Opening Day 2013, he'll collect at least $10.8 million between his bonus, salaries and easily reachable incentives. That figure could rise because he can opt out of his contract once he's eligible for arbitration.

BUBBA STARLING, OF, ROYALS (NO. 5 OVERALL): The draft's top athlete had the option of playing quarterback at Nebraska, and he parlayed that leverage into a $7.5 million bonus, tying Strasburg for the second-highest ever. Starling's bonus is the most ever for a high schooler (beating Donavan Tate's $6.25 million in 2009) or a position player (again eclipsing $6.25 million, by Tate and Bryce Harper in 2010), as well as the most guaranteed money ever given to a prepster (beating $7 million major league deals for Josh Beckett in 1999 and Rick Porcello in 2007). Under draft provisions for two-sport athletes, the Royals will spread Starling's bonus over three years, giving it a net present value of $7,311,443.

ANTHONY RENDON, 3B, NATIONALS (NO. 6 OVERALL): Rendon entered 2011 as the draft's top-rated prospect, but a shoulder injury sapped his power and made him available to the Nationals with the sixth overall pick. It's possible that Washington now has grabbed the best player in three successive drafts, adding Rendon after taking Strasburg and Harper with No. 1 overall choices. Rendon signed for a four-year major league deal that includes a $6 million bonus, a $7.2 million guarantee, a club option for 2016 and an arbitration opt-out. The net present value is $6,634,831, and he'll make at least $9.3 million if he's in the big leagues for good at the start of 2013.

DYLAN BUNDY, RHP, ORIOLES (NO. 4 OVERALL): The draft's best high school prospect—and arguably the best pitching prospect as well—became the eighth prepster in draft history to receive a major league contract. He didn't match Beckett and Porcello's high school-record deals but did land a five-year pact with a $4 million bonus, $6.25 million in total guarantees and a $5,630,617 net present value. If Bundy reaches Baltimore to stay by mid-2013, he'll earn $7.7 million.

ARCHIE BRADLEY, RHP, DIAMONDBACKS (NO. 7 OVERALL): Like Starling, Bradley was a top quarterback recruit (Oklahoma) and used his football prowess to get a $5 million bonus. The payments will be spread over five years, giving him a net present value of $4,834,658. The Diamondbacks were the first team ever to own two of the first seven picks in a single draft, and used the No. 3 overall choice on Trevor Bauer. He signed on July 25 and got a four-year big league contract with a $3.4 million bonus, $4.45 million in guarantees and a net present value of $4,352,554. Bauer, who made his Double-A debut the day before the deadline and could get a September callup, will make close to $7 million if he spends most of the next three years in the majors as expected.

Biggest Deals, Middle Rounds

JOSH BELL, OF, PIRATES (SECOND ROUND): When the Pirates signed Bell for $5 million, it meant that Pittsburgh spent more on its first two draft picks than any club ever had spent on an entire draft. If that boggles the mind, consider the fact that industry insiders expressed surprise that his bonus wasn't higher. Bell was considered both the best all-around high school hitter in the draft, as well as its most unsignable talent. His mother is a college professor who wanted him to attend the University of Texas, and he wrote a letter to the Major League Scouting Bureau in May to state that he didn't intend to turn pro. Teams weren't convinced he'd sign for even an eight-figure bonus, and if they had known he'd agree to $5 million, he probably wouldn't have made it out of the first round. The Pirates took a low-risk gamble with the first pick of the draft's second day—they would have received the No. 62 choice in the 2012 draft if he hadn't sign—and persuaded Bell to change his mind. His bonus is the largest ever outside of the first round, beating the $3.45 million the Tigers paid sandwich pick Nick Castellanos in 2010.

BRIAN GOODWIN, OF, NATIONALS (SUPPLEMENTAL FIRST ROUND): A quality athlete who projected as a first-round pick in the 2012 draft, Goodwin saw his timetable move up a year when North Carolina suspended him last fall for violating its academic policies. He transferred to Miami Dade JC and entered the 2011 draft as a sophomore because all junior college players are eligible. He benefited from the Nationals' one-stop shopping, as the club took Boras Corp. clients (Rendon, No. 23 overall pick Alex Meyer, Goodwin) with each of its three picks among the top 34. Meyer signed for $2 million, surpassing four fellow college pitchers drafted ahead of him, while Goodwin collected a $3 million bonus. That dwarfed the $1.863 million the draft's other top juco prospect, Cory Spangenberg, got as the 10th overall choice from the Padres. Goodwin is tied for the third-highest bonus ever outside of the first round with . . .

AUSTIN HEDGES, C, PADRES (SECOND ROUND): At the start of the year, teams considered Hedges the toughest sign among the draft's top prospects as well as one of the best defensive catchers available in a while. There's not as much consensus as to how much he'll hit, though the Padres believe in his bat and paid him $3 million. That broke the previous second-round record ($2.75 million to Jason Young in 2000), though it was eclipsed by Bell's bonus.

MATT PURKE, LHP, NATIONALS (THIRD ROUND): Purke opened 2011 as BA's third-rated draft prospect behind Rendon and Cole, but shoulder problems this spring and concerns about his delivery and signability knocked him down to the 96th overall pick. The Rangers had drafted him 14th overall out of high school in 2009 and agreed to a $6 million bonus, but MLB controlled the team's finances and nixed it. Purke worked out rather than pitch in a summer league, seemingly adding to the unlikelihood that he and the Nationals could agree on a deal that would satisfy both sides. That they did, with Purke getting a third-round record $2.75 million bonus as part of a four-year big league contract with $4.15 million in guarantees (net present value: $3,813,308), two club options and an arbitration opt-out. If he doesn't need more than a year in the minors, Purke will make at least $5 million.

Biggest Deals, Late Rounds

DILLON MAPLES, RHP, CUBS (14TH ROUND): Ranked 46 on BA's Top 200 Draft Prospects list, Maples and his plus fastball-curveball combination went 429th overall because he seemed intent on attending North Carolina. Those plans changed when the Cubs anted up $2.5 million, the largest bonus ever outside of the third round. Though Maples was also a walk-on kicker who participated in the Tar Heels' football camp before leaving to sign, his bonus will be paid by the end of 2012 rather than spread out as many as five years via the two-sport rule.

SHAWON DUNSTON JR., OF, CUBS (11TH ROUND): Maples wasn't the only seven-figure salvo fired by the Cubs outside of the first 10 rounds. They raised a lot of eyebrows by investing $1.275 million to lure the toolsy but raw Dunston away from a Vanderbilt commitment. Twenty-nine years earlier, Chicago spent the No. 1 overall pick in the draft on his father—and signed him for $135,000. With second-rounder Dan Vogelbach ($1.6 million), Maples and Dunston, the Cubs paid out three of the top 15 bonuses outside of the first round this year.

AMIR GARRETT, LHP, REDS (22ND ROUND): Better known as a top basketball recruit ticketed for St. John's, Garrett created a lot of buzz in May when he showed a 90-96 mph fastball in a workout for scouts. Considering his athleticism and inexperience, it's easy to dream about how much better the 6-foot-6 Garrett can become on the mound. The Reds got creative to sign him, giving him a $1 million bonus paid out over five years while still allowing him to play hoops for the Red Storm.

The Ones Who Got Away

TYLER BEEDE, RHP, BLUE JAYS (NO. 21 OVERALL): Multiple teams picking behind the Blue Jays coveted Beede with their top choice, including the Rangers at No. 33 and the Tigers at No. 76, but he didn't fall to them. There were rumors that Toronto agreed to a predraft deal with Beede worth $3 million or more, which Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos angrily denied. With MLB instructing teams to negotiate at a glacial pace, the two sides were $2 million apart ($1.5 million vs. $3.5 million) entering deadline day. When Toronto wouldn't budge past $2.4 million, New England's top draft prospect opted to attend Vanderbilt. The Blue Jays still spent $11 million on the draft and landed a pair of top high school arms on deadline day in supplemental first-rounder Kevin Comer ($1.65 million) and second-rounder Daniel Norris ($2 million).

BRETT AUSTIN, C, PADRES (SUPPLEMENTAL FIRST ROUND): As an offensive-minded high school catcher from North Carolina, Austin had a similar profile to Wil Myers and sought the same $2 million bonus the Royals gave Myers in third round two years ago. The Padres offered a seven-figure bonus and never got close to signing Austin, but landed four other players in the first and sandwich rounds plus a higher-priority catcher in Hedges.

SENQUEZ GOLSON, OF, RED SOX (EIGHTH ROUND): A high-ceiling athlete with exceptional speed and power potential, Golson also has a football scholarship to play cornerback at Mississippi and may start as a freshman this fall. After resisting overtures from the Red Sox, he spent several hours in talks on Aug. 14 and flew to Boston for a physical and further negotiations on deadline day. Boston offered him a seven-figure bonus and discussed scenarios that would have allowed him to continue playing football, but it wasn't enough. The Red Sox audibled and signed fifth-rounder Mookie Betts for $750,000 while also paying its four picks in the first and sandwich rounds a total of $6.65 million on Aug. 15.
HIGHEST BONUSES, DRAFT HISTORY
Player, Pos. Team, Year (Pick) Bonus
Gerrit Cole, rhp Pirates, 2011 (No. 1) $8,000,000
Stephen Strasburg, rhp Nationals, 2009 (No. 1) *$7,500,000
Bubba Starling, of Royals, 2011 (No. 5) $7,500,000
Jameson Taillon, rhp Pirates, 2010 (No. 2) $6,500,000
Danny Hultzen, lhp Mariners, 2011 (No. 2) *$6,350,000
Donavan Tate, of Padres, 2009 (No. 3) $6,250,000
Bryce Harper, of Nationals, 2010 (No. 1) *$6,250,000
Buster Posey, c Giants, 2008 (No. 5) $6,200,000
Tim Beckham, ss Rays, 2008 (No. 1) $6,150,000
Justin Upton, ss Diamondbacks, 2005 (No. 1) $6,100,000
Matt Wieters, c Orioles, 2007 (No. 5) $6,000,000
Pedro Alvarez, 3b Pirates, 2008 (No. 2) *$6,000,000
Eric Hosmer, 1b Royals, 2008 (No. 3) $6,000,000
Dustin Ackley, of Mariners, 2009 (No. 2) *$6,000,000
Anthony Rendon, 3b Nationals, 2011 (No. 6) *$6,000,000
*Part of major league contract.
+Bonus spread over multiple years under MLB provisions for two-sport athletes.


LARGEST BIG LEAGUE CONTRACTS, DRAFT HISTORY
Player, Pos. Team, Year (Pick) Bonus Guarantee
Stephen Strasburg, rhp Nationals, 2009 (No. 1) $7,500,000 $15,107,104
Mark Prior, rhp Cubs, 2001 (No. 2) $4,000,000 $10,500,000
Bryce Harper, of Nationals, 2010 (No. 1) $6,250,000 $9,900,000
Mark Teixeira, 3b Rangers, 2001 (No. 5) $4,500,000 $9,500,000
David Price, lhp Rays, 2007 (No. 1) $5,600,000 $8,500,000
Danny Hultzen, lhp Mariners, 2011 (No. 2) $6,350,000 $8,500,000
Pat Burrell, 1b/of Phillies, 1998 (No. 1) $3,150,000 $8,000,000
Dustin Ackley, of Mariners, 2009 (No. 2) $6,000,000 $7,500,000
Anthony Rendon, 3b Nationals, 2011 (No. 6) $6,000,000 $7,200,000
J.D. Drew, of Cardinals, 1998 (No. 5) $3,000,000 $7,000,000
Josh Beckett, rhp Marlins, 1999 (No. 2) $3,625,000 $7,000,000
Rick Porcello, rhp Tigers, 2007 (No. 27) $3,580,000 $7,000,000
Eric Munson, c Tigers, 1999 (No. 3) $3,500,000 $6,750,000
Pedro Alvarez, 3b Pirates, 2008 (No. 2) $6,000,000 $6,335,000
Dylan Bundy, rhp Orioles, 2011 (No. 4) $4,000,000 $6,250,000



TEAM BONUS EXPENDITURES, 2009-11
Team 2011 Bonuses Rk 2010 Bonuses 2009 Bonuses 2009-11 Totals Rk
Pirates $17,005,700 1 $11,900,400 $8,918,900 $37,825,000 2
Nationals $15,002,100 2 $11,927,200 $11,511,500 $38,440,800 1
Royals $14,066,000 3 $6,697,000 $6,657,000 $27,420,000 5
Cubs $11,994,550 4 $4,727,100 $4,044,200 $20,765,850 12
Diamondbacks $11,930,000 5 $4,399,300 $9,328,200 $25,657,500 8
Rays $11,482,900 6 $7,150,800 $4,004,500 $22,638,200 10
Mariners $11,330,500 7 $4,942,500 $10,945,600 $27,218,600 6
Padres $11,020,600 8 $4,262,000 $9,139,000 $24,421,600 9
Blue Jays $10,996,500 9 $11,594,400 $4,895,200 $27,486,100 4
Red Sox $10,978,700 10 $10,664,400 $7,095,400 $28,738,500 3
Orioles $8,432,100 11 $9,159,900 $8,730,200 $26,322,200 7
Indians $8,225,000 12 $9,381,500 $4,943,000 $22,549,500 11
Brewers $7,509,300 13 $2,432,200 $6,759,500 $16,701,000 19
Mets $6,782,500 14 $4,721,200 $3,134,300 $14,638,000 24
Reds $6,378,900 15 $5,739,300 $5,855,400 $17,973,600 16
Yankees $6,324,500 16 $6,652,500 $7,564,500 $20,541,500 13
Giants $6,266,000 17 $4,102,900 $6,289,000 $16,657,900 21
Twins $5,902,300 18 $3,511,300 $4,694,100 $14,107,700 26
Astros $5,545,800 19 $7,275,530 $4,212,800 $17,034,130 18
Phillies $4,689,800 20 $3,927,900 $3,229,500 $11,847,200 29
Cardinals $4,554,000 21 $6,692,200 $5,388,500 $16,634,700 22
Rangers $4,193,000 22 $8,487,800 $4,684,200 $17,365,000 17
Marlins $4,135,000 23 $4,380,500 $4,142,800 $12,658,300 27
Rockies $3,967,900 24 $4,785,700 $7,924,300 $16,677,900 20
Braves $3,735,700 25 $3,925,100 $4,400,500 $12,061,300 28
Dodgers $3,509,300 26 $7,992,900 $4,037,100 $15,539,300 23
Angels $3,318,100 27 $8,095,300 $6,792,900 $18,206,300 15
Athletics $3,067,300 28 $5,022,400 $6,439,400 $14,529,100 25
Tigers $2,878,700 29 $7,301,400 $9,395,100 $19,575,200 14
White Sox $2,786,300 30 $3,930,200 $4,178,600 $10,895,100 30
Average $7,600,302
$6,526,094 $6,311,173 $20,437,569
Total $228,009,050
$195,782,830 $189,335,200 $613,127,080