The Chicago Cubs have until 5:00 PM Eastern on July 25th to sign their drafted players to a contract. At this point, they’ve signed 18 of their 20 draft picks, but one of the two players left unsigned brings about a certain level of concern.
There have been eleven drafts with bonus pool rules and in all eleven of those drafts, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com, the Chicago Cubs are one of four teams to outspend their bonus pool allotment every single season. This year, they had a bonus pool of $8,962,000 and with the signings they’ve already made they’ve spent $7,549,100 that we know of (including the $250,000 they went over to sign their 11th-round pick, Zyhir Hope).
We know that they’ve also agreed to terms that are currently undisclosed for Minnesota outfielder, Brett Bateman (8th round), Long Beach State first baseman, Jonathan Long (9th round) and Temple College right-handed pitcher, Luis Martinez-Gomez (10th round). The slot bonuses for those three picks are a combined $551,300.
Finally, they haven’t signed their second-round pick, Arkansas right-handed pitcher Jax Wiggins whose slot bonus is $1,101,000.
The reason all of this is at least a little concerning is that if a player doesn’t sign then the team does not get to utilize that slot-bonus money. Given that the Cubs have already spent $7,549,100 they have exceeded the pool money that they were allotted if all of the players they’ve signed did so for their full slot value.
Based on the fact that:
1. Bateman, Long and Martinez-Gomez aren’t especially highly-rated draft prospects
2. Wiggins was a potential first-round pick prior to his injury
3. The Cubs have always exceeded their bonus pool in the past
The most likely possible outcome is that the Cubs will likely try to save a couple hundred thousand dollars on their 8th-10th round picks and try to sign Wiggins for about $1.5 million to send their total spending to about $9,249,100 which would exceed their bonus pool of $8,962,000 by a little more than 3%. According to Jim Callis of MLB.com that should only come with a monetary slap on the wrist rather than draft-pick compensation:
"Teams that exceed their bonus pool face a penalty. Clubs that outspend their allotment by 0-5 percent pay a 75 percent tax on the overage. At higher thresholds, teams lose future picks: a first-rounder and a 75 percent tax for surpassing their pool by more than 5 and up to 10 percent; a first- and a second-rounder and a 100 percent tax for more than 10 and up to 15 percent; and two first-rounders and a 100 percent tax for more than 15 percent."- Jim Callis, MLB.com
If that’s the way this plays out then the only player left unsigned would be their 13th-round pick, right-handed pitcher Sam Armstrong from Old Dominion.