The MLB Draft ended a week and a half ago, but the craziness isn’t over yet. Possibly even more nerve-wracking than the actual draft is the period after the draft in which teams and players negotiate signing bonuses. Especially given rules that limit a team’s draft spending, it is hard to lock up every player drafted, and there are always talented players who teams cannot end up signing. With that in mind, here’s a look at the Tampa Bay Rays 2014 MLB draft signings so far.
Of the Rays picks within the top 10 rounds, only 3rd rounder Brock Burke remains unsigned. The Rays have signed 1st rounder Casey Gillaspie for exactly slot value, 2nd rounder Cameron Varga, competitive balance round B pick Brent Honeywell, and 4th rounder Blake Bivens for over-slot value, and their 5th-10th round picks all for under-slot value. Also, many picks past the 10th round have signed, but as of now it hasn’t been reported that any of these players’ bonuses have gone above the 100k limit that would further count against the Rays bonus pool. So far the Rays have given out $4,948,000 in bonuses, meaning they have $900,400 of remaining pool space. However, they can spend up to $1,192,800 on top of what they’ve already spent without forfeiting a future draft pick (though they would pay a 75% fine on the pool overage).
For now, the Rays’ priority is going to be locking up Burke. My guess is that he is going to command around a $650,000 bonus, though with high schoolers you truly never know the kind of money they will be looking for. If he did sign for $650k, then that would give the Rays $542,900 to work with. Their next priority is likely going to be locking up 11th rounder Spencer Moran. He is a 3rd-5th round talent, but fell so far because of signability issues, so the Rays are going to do their best to get him signed. He is a bit of a wild card, so there is a decent chance he won’t sign at all. If they do indeed sign Moran, that will likely use up a majority of their remaining bonus pool.
If Moran doesn’t sign, or if he gets a lower bonus than expected, the Rays will use their remaining bonus pool to sign some of their other late-round high upside picks. This includes Jaime Ayende-Morales, Zac Law, and Conor Harber. Someone that appears related to 21st rounder Jaime Ayende-Morales tweeted this out (the Instagram link is broken), so Ayende-Morales might have signed without it being reported yet. He was expected to command a bonus over 100k as a high schooler, though if he has indeed signed the bonus is nowhere to be found. The Ayende-Morales mystery makes things interesting, so we will just have to wait and see how everything plays out. Regardless, the Rays are likely to sign at least one of Moran, Ayende-Morales, Law, and Haber, and they could very well end up signing 2-3 depending on how everything pans out.
The Rays have moved quickly to sign all but one of their picks in the first 10 rounds, and that is a good sign. However, plenty of drama remains with trying to sign Burke, Moran, and the other tougher signs. The drama is likely to continue all the way up until the July 18th deadline to sign these picks.
Hat tip to RayProspects.com for compiling info on the bonus numbers