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Early First Round Signings Below Slot

tony sanchez

The MLB Draft occurred just last week, but already, three first-round picks have signed with the teams who picked them.  The disadvantage of signing early is that you forfeit seeing what other players are signing for.  There is a possibility that you sign for less than you could make if you hold out until the deadline.  The positive is that you show goodwill to your signing team and get started within the organization as soon as possible.  Many teams will start you on a higher level, and you will be well on your way up the system while your colleagues are holding out for more money.

Normally, the signing deadline for drafted players is August 15th.  Because August 15th falls on a Saturday this year, the MLB has pushed the deadline  back to August 17th.  Expect a lot of first rounders to sign within minutes of the deadline.  But then there are those who have already signed, two months earlier than they had to.  Tony Sanchez is currently playing with the West Virginia Power of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization (where Dynasty has 2 clients: Kyle McPherson and Ryan Kelly), Drew Storen is with the Hagerstown Suns of the Washington Nationals organization, and Eric Arnett will be sent to Brewers Rookie Ball (Helena).

To be able to start playing in Class A or Rookie Ball now, is definitely a plus.  What about the signing bonuses?

  • Tony Sanchez (#4 overall) – $2.5 million. College Junior – Catcher.
  • Drew Storen (#10 overall) – $1.6 million. Draft-eligible College Sophomore – RHP.
  • Eric Arnett (#26 overall) – $1.2 million. College Junior – RHP.

Last year, the #4 overall pick (Brian Matusz, College Junior – LHP) signed for $3.2 million, higher than Tony Sanchez’s bonus.  Left-handed pitchers are very valuable, but so is the skilled position of Catcher.  Additionally, the #5 overall pick was a College Junior Catcher named Buster Posey.  Drafted one slot later than Sanchez, Posey received the largest bonus of the draft – $6.2 million.  The Pirates spent $6 million on their 1st round pick last year (Pedro Alvarez), so Sanchez really could have probably made more if he held out a little longer.  But again, the positives of signing early..

Last year’s #10 overall pick (Jason Castro) was a College Junior Catcher from the same university as this year’s #10 overall pick – Stanford University.  Castro also signed for more money than this year’s #10 pick.  He received a bonus of $2.07 million.  Again, a highly skilled Catcher is very valuable, but Storen was seen as someone who could help out the Nats immediately.  Storen was also probably drafted in this position because of his signability.  Presumably, the Nationals knew that he would be a quick sign, which is why he was taken at #10 overall.

The #26 overall pick last year was Daniel Schlereth, a College Junior LHP from the University of Arizona.  As previously stated, LHPs are often valued higher than RHPs.  Schlereth received only a little more of a bonus ($1.33 million) than Arnett.

All three first round players that signed, did so below slot value.  I believe that Storen and Sanchez have legitimate reasons for doing so.  But maybe Arnett should have taken a little bit more time before agreeing to the terms of his deal.  What are your thoughts?

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

5 replies on “Early First Round Signings Below Slot”

Sanchez was an above slot deal.
Storen was a slot deal
Not sure where you are getting your information

Former BC catcher Tony Sanchez, the Pittsburgh Pirates 4th overall selection signed yesterday for $2.5 million, slightly above the MLB bonus slot recommendation. This comes as a surprise consideration Sanchez was considered to be a value pick, someone who would sign for considerably less than another player in that slot. However, Sanchez has inked a very lucrative deal for himself. He is expected to report to Rookie-A immediately.

Won't the economy effect bonuses?. Attendance is down, money is tight – just look at the free agent signings last winter. I wouldn't be surprised to see most of the bonuses below last year and closer to recommendations. Of course there will be the exceptions (Strasburg et al).

The economy may affect the bonuses, but more than that, it may leave more teams with unsigned picks. Players may go to/return to school with the hope of getting higher bonuses in the future. Perhaps a strengthened economy will allow for that.

Sanchez came to the agreement with Pittsburgh before the draft. They knew he was going to be there at pick 4, and Sanchez and his advisor knew the $2.5 mill he would get from Pittsburgh would be better than the bonus he would get in the mid-late first round (where he probably would have been selected if Pitt hadn't pulled the trigger).

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