Amateur Signing Bonuses: Cubs

Time for another post in our series looking at the five largest signing bonuses each team has given to amateur players. The Cubs are up…

  1. Mark Prior, $4MM (2001)
  2. Corey Patterson, $3.7MM (1998)
  3. Josh Vitters, $3.2MM (2007)
  4. Luis Montanez, $2.75MM (2000)
  5. Bobby Brownlie, $2.5MM (2002)

You'd be hard pressed to find a team that pumped more money into high draft picks and received so little in return. Prior was undeniably special, going from USC to a third-place finish in the NL Cy Young voting within two years. His first 56 big league starts (377 innings) featured a 2.60 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 (removing intentional walks), but arm injuries wrecked the rest of his career. Prior last pitched for the Cubs (and in the big leagues) on August 10th of 2006. If his latest comeback attempt is unsuccessful, his career is likely to end with a 3.51 ERA, 10.4 K/9, and 3.1 BB/9 in 106 starts (657 innings).

Patterson and Montanez were the third overall picks in their respective drafts. Neither delivered on their promise, though Patterson at least managed to reach the big leagues for Chicago. He hit just .252/.293/.414 with 70 homers and 86 steals in 589 games for the Cubbies before being traded to the Orioles for a pair of minor leaguers before the 2006 season. Montanez spent six years in the Cubs' farm system before signing with Baltimore as a minor league free agent in 2007. He didn't make it out of A-ball until five years after he was drafted. Vitters, yet another third overall pick, reached Double-A at age 20 this season, but he's just a .275/.317/.435 hitter in the minors, walking only 46 times unintentionally in 1,178 plate appearances. 

Brownlie, a Scott Boras client and the 21st overall pick in 2002, pitched very well in Cubs farm system for two years before his elbow started to act up in 2005. He was shifted to the bullpen and pitched terribly in 2006 (6.33 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 4.2 BB/9), leading to his release. Brownlie bounced around a bit after that, including a stint in an independent league, but he now coaches at his alma mater Rutgers. He never reached the big leagues, but did throw 199 innings at the Triple-A level.  

Kosuke Fukudome matched Prior's signing bonus at $4MM, but he's not considered an amateur given all of his time in Japan despite having zero MLB experience when he signed.


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17 Comments on "Amateur Signing Bonuses: Cubs"


Tko11
4 years 10 months ago

Most of those guys haven’t turned into even average players. Hopefully Vitters works out at least, I feel bad for the Cubs.

myname_989
4 years 10 months ago

Ouch.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Everyone who is saying that the Cubs picks didn’t work out, keep in mind that their picks from the later rounds, and cheap 1st round signings are really starting to pan out, from Brett Jackson to Keith McNutt (1st rounder to late rounder).

myname_989
4 years 10 months ago

It’s easy to look at that list and understand what’s wrong with the Cubs: Overpaying the wrong guys, on every level, and it’s going to look quite dim until some of these guys, who are relatively well drafted and signed, pan out for the Major League Club. I don’t follow the Cubs much, but it seems like every time you here about one of their highly touted prospects, (Josh Vitters, Andrew Cashner), you quickly hear a follow up of how much of a mistake they were.

BlueCatuli
4 years 10 months ago

When has Cashner’s name ever come up?

studio179
4 years 10 months ago

Cashner a mistake? I don’t think so. He was a rookie and has to polish his game. It is also noteworthy that Cashner improved immediately after Lou left. No suprise there. Cashner looks to be an above average pitcher. He has the stuff. He needs to locate his fastball better at times and work more on his change up. He has been a power pitcher and only started working on a change for about a year. So he needs more experience. You did say you don’t know the Cubs much, so I’ll cut you slack. :) I will say some of those other names on that list were hyped before they did anything.

4 years 10 months ago

2015 back to the future II

Nathew
4 years 10 months ago

only if the marlins change their name to the miami gators and either them or the cubs switch leagues.

Nathew
4 years 10 months ago

only if the marlins change their name to the miami gators and either them or the cubs switch leagues.

4 years 10 months ago

If the Cubs hope to achive, they will have to home grow their players, which they did state they were gonna do. However they can’t be trading these guys if they really wanna go that route, so more polished veteran stars will probably be out of reach for them.

4 years 10 months ago

The Cubs are in a very undesirable position right now as a baseball team: a big-market team that needs serious rebuilding. This situation would have been avoidable if they could have scouted better in the draft, and luckily they’ve finally started to do so. However, it may be until at least 2013 before they contend for a title unless Jim Hendry or his inevitable replacement makes some spectacular moves.

moonraker45
4 years 10 months ago

besides vitters, the last big bonus was 2002. pretty sad. Especially when amateur signing bonuses have sky rocketed in the last 5 years, they have said no thank you, we’ll pass on prime talent.

petrie000
4 years 10 months ago

this may give everyone a better understanding of why the Cubs had to spend so much in free-agency. with the exception of Vitters, all those deals were handed out by Andy MacPhail, who couldn’t build a farm system to save his life. Spending all that on one pick leaves little to nothing to sign later round picks who can always go back to college.

petrie000
4 years 10 months ago

this may give everyone a better understanding of why the Cubs had to spend so much in free-agency. with the exception of Vitters, all those deals were handed out by Andy MacPhail, who couldn’t build a farm system to save his life. Spending all that on one pick leaves little to nothing to sign later round picks who can always go back to college.

untdrum99
4 years 10 months ago

Luckily for the Cubs the farm system shows some hope in the future because they have one of the worst track records in the last several years. That leads to them spending like a major-market team, but produce minor league results. They need to learn how to do more with less like some others in their division. Their desperation in throwing huge money at current mid-level stars isn’t going to cut it.

$16.75 million/year with Ramirez gets them 15 HRs last year and 25 this year with a .241 BA. He peaked 3-4 years ago.

$14 million for Fukudome gets .263/13HR/44RBI and those numbers are actually BETTER than last season’s.

And $19 million for Soriano gets .258/24HR/79RBI. And like Fukudome, those numbers are actually an improvement over the previous year. Sorry, but Soriano is not going to reach his early 2000s numbers no matter how much you pay him.

This past season, the player with the highest average was an undrafted rookie in Satrlin Castro. The highest slugging percentage went to the Cubs 2006 #1 pick Tyler Colvin who made just over $400k. This was his second year in the major leagues. Proof that throwing money at guys doesn’t equal results, but smart spending will.

4 years 9 months ago

Colvin was a rookie this year too. Not a second year guy.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Absolutley, but I was focusing more on homegrown talent.