Amateur Signing Bonuses: Yankees

Next up in our amateur signing bonus series, the soon-to-be no longer defending champs…

  1. Andrew Brackman, $3.55MM (2007)
  2. Gary Sanchez, $3MM (2009)
  3. Wily Mo Pena, $2.44MM (1999)
  4. Ian Kennedy, $2.25MM (2006)
  5. Slade Heathcott, $2.2MM (2009)

The Yankees are no strangers to spending money, and that goes for the amateur players as well. Brackman was considered one of the best talents available in the 2007 draft but fell to the 30th overall pick due to bonus demands and injury concerns. The Scott Boras client signed his big league deal right at the deadline and had Tommy John surgery almost immediately after the ink dried, which New York knew he needed. Brackman returned from the procedure at the start of the 2009 season, and has thrown 247.1 innings with a 4.77 ERA, 8.3 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 as he climbs the ladder.

Sanchez received one of the largest bonuses among international free agents last year, and hit .329/.393/.543 in 196 plate appeared in the low minors this season, his professional debut. Heathcott was the team's first round pick in 2009 (29th overall), the pick they received as compensation for failing to sign Gerrit Cole in 2008. Like Sanchez, he made his pro debut this season, hitting .253/.354/.344 in 362 plate appearances at the Single-A level.

Despite being just 17-years-old at the time, the Yankees signed Pena to a major league contract worth a total of $3.7MM. His bonus stood as the record for international prospects for nearly a decade. Pena had originally signed with the Mets the previous summer, but MLB questioned the validity of the deal and it was eventually voided. He was with the Yankees for just over two full seasons (.234/.299/.391 in 541 Single-A plate appearances) before being traded to the Reds for Michael Coleman and former Yankee farmhand Drew Henson before the 2001 season.

Kennedy zoomed up the minor league ladder after being the 21st overall pick in 2006, making his big league debut just a year after signing. He spend most of his Yankee career in the minors (1.95 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 in 248.2 innings) and also missed most of 2009 due to an aneurysm near his pitching arm, though he did throw 59.2 innings with a 6.03 ERA with the big league team. The Yanks shipped him to Arizona last offseason in the Edwin JacksonCurtis GrandersonMax Scherzer blockbuster.

We're not counting veterans of the Japanese or Cuban leagues in this series even though they have zero MLB experience, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Hideki Matsui and Jose Contreras received $8.5MM and $6MM signing bonuses, respectively.


56 Responses to Amateur Signing Bonuses: Yankees Leave a Reply

  1. Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

    Gary Sanchez…Pretty soon will be one of Baseball’s top 50 prospects.

    • Maybe he makes Romine expendable.. no offense to Romine but i hope so, i like his bat better

      • Zack23 5 years ago

        Romine will be in AA/AAA next year, Sanchez will be in low-A ball. One does not make the other expendable, it’ll be atleast 3 years until Sanchez has a legit shot to make the club, thinking Romine is expendable in 2010 is pretty dumb IMO.

        And read some scouting reports, Sanchez’s defense is far behind his bat.

  2. Why would you not count the signing bonuses of Cubans in this feature if that’s exactly what you did with the Reds piece? You have Chapman listed.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      Did they even do the Reds piece yet?

      • Yes, you can find it in the Reds archives under Rumors by Team. It was posted on 11 days ago. Chapman is listed at #1. It’s not like the duties of this feature have been spread out; Axisa has written all the columns of the teams whose players I included. Why would he suddenly stop counting them?

    • Other Cubans you’ve listed: Jose Iglesias, Livian Hernandez, Danys Baez, Dayan Viciedo. Why the sudden inconsistency?

      • Those guys all signed young, around 20, 21-years-old, young enough to still be considered prospects. Contreras was 31 when he signed with the Yanks.

        • I get what you’re saying but playing without pay under a Communist regime, Contreras was still an amateur.

          • I understand that, but he was basically a big league free agent. There was no development left, he was a finished product. This series was intended to look at players that had development left ahead of them.

          • I understand that, too. Perhaps you should have a separate column comparing all defected Cuban amateurs and signing bonuses, developed or not. Since as you say, they’re basically all big league free agents, their signing bonuses are skewed, and probably shouldn’t be compared to drafted players who have far less leverage.

          • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

            There’s a difference between a 30 year old vet like Contreras who had tons of pitching experience and CHapman who was still raw.

          • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

            Exactly…I don’t look at a 31 year old as an “amateur” either, hence the name of this post.

          • raullll 5 years ago

            I agree, and i would do the same.
            Though Chapman has some experience, he is still very raw.
            Jose as Mike mentioned was a finished product who was 31 years old.
            When he didn’t mention Jose and Matsui up there i understood rite away what he was doing

      • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

        Maybe he forgot. People aren’t perfect.

  3. YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

    You know what’s most ironic about this list? EVERYBODY wants to use the Yanks as an example of mlb big market teams that obscenely spend tons of money to “steal” amatuer players in the draft or via international free agency and in fact the Yanks rarely have ranked in the top 8 in terms of money spent in the draft or in signing bonuses.

    Compare the Yanks top 5 (roughly $13.5 mil) to Twins ($15.5), Brewers ($13.2), Dodgers ($14), Angels ($13.5), Royals ($20), Marlins ($13.3), Tigers ($18.6), Rockies ($14.5), Indians ($15), Reds ($10 mil plus Chapman’s weird contract), etc

    • moonraker45 5 years ago

      thats because they often don’t have first round draft picks because they lose them when they sign type A’s.

      And international free agents don’t look at the yankees as an ideal place to sign because they are often blocked by accomplished veterans who still have years ahead of them. Like Adieny Hech, apparently his dream was to play with the yankees, the yanks offered him a sizable bonus, but opted to go to the jays knowing he’d make it the majors faster.

      • AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs 5 years ago

        While the Adeiny thing is true, that is completely off base for many other IFAs. The Yankees scout the International FA market better than anyone, and they have the prospects to show for it. Montero and Sanchez were both regarded as the best bats in the IFA eligibility years. Montero is a top 10 prospect while Sanchez will be one in a couple of years, and then there are guys like Manny Banuelos who is a legit top 50 prospect, Arodys Vizcaino who is probably top 25.

        Hechevarria signed because he was an ‘overager’ in relative terms. IFAs are eligible to sign when they are 16, he was 21 and closer to the bigs.
        Edit

        • moonraker45 5 years ago

          I didnt say they get zero prospects, I didnt say they didn’t aggressively scout the international market. The Hechevarria incident does not stand alone, many top end Free agencts, usually the ones who are a bit more developed or highly touted, end up signing else where.

          All of the prospects you listed we’re signed when they were younger, the fact that they all look like great prospects now are a testament to the yankees scouting. . but they also didn’t command that much in signing bonus because they were young, and raw.

          • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

            Good point. I do remember Hechevarria commenting that he wanted the quickest path to the majors and knew that Jeter would probably be around for another 4-5 years. You know who I sort of feel bad for? Juan Miranda. He’s hit as well as anyone else in AAA and had decent numbers in his call ups but when Tex was signed that ended any thought of him getting a shot. He probably wouldn’t be an everyday 1B but could be a good lefty platoon hitter for most other teams.

          • andrewyf 5 years ago

            Yeah, but he got $2M over four years.

            Hard to feel bad for the guy.

      • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

        Not true at all. The Yanks have had a 1st rnd pick in every single draft since 2000 w/ the exception of 2002. In 2008 they had a 1st rnd that they didn’t sign in Gerrit Cole. In all, over the last 11 drafts (2000-2010) the Yanks have had 15 1st rnd picks. Unfortunately most of them sucked w/ the exception of Hughes, Joba, IPK and guys from the last 3 drafts.

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      Well if you notice most of the teams on there are teams that in the past years were bad and got expensive top picks. But the Yankees wealth comes in handy in later rounds when they take high upside High Schoolers and pry them away from college with 1mil-2mil guaranteed. It isn’t enough to break the top 5 on this list but it is significant. And for the record I don’t see anything wrong with it, in fact it is the best draft strategy imo.

      • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

        Yeah I was just making the point that the Yanks, for whatever reason, usually are NOT in to the top 10 annualy when it comes to money spent in the draft. I was shocked myself. In the last couple of drafts though it seems Cashman has made a point of going overslot to get the guys he wants. The only think that keeps us from being top 5 now is the lack of a top 10 draft slot. Surprisingly it’s the Royals, Pirates and other who spend wildly AND THEY SHOULD. If mlb teams aren’t going to spend on mlb players then they should do so on the draft and internaitonal amatuers.

  4. No offense to Austin Romine(would be happy to see him become our catcher)but, I’d rather have Gary Sanchez become our catcher. I like his bat alot more, and i hear all he needs work with at the plate is recieving and blocking, which is gonna be alot easier on him at his size… hopefully he also has a good arm. Wonder if Slade Heathcott will turn out the way he was planned to be. Great tools, but not great proffesional debut… he might take longer than most prospects to pan out… maybe they sign Swish for a couple more years so he and Romero can compete for the spot in a couple of years

    • AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs 5 years ago

      Honestly, I want Romine traded. Montero can stay behind the dish, and Sanchez will hopefully take over C when Tex’s contract is up and Montero can move to first. Romine kind of gets stuck for being the middle man.

      • jwredsox 5 years ago

        Montero likely can’t stay behind the dish. I don’t think people know how bad he is. He is A LOT worse then Posada behind the plate and isn’t likely to get much better. HE doesn’t even have the right body type, he is too big and slow.

        • Montero has a good arm and honestly, anyone with a good arm is instantly better defensively than Posada.

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            See this is what I mean by people not know how bad he is. From what I read, he is horrible at recieving and has a lot of trouble blocking balls in the dirt plus he has pretty bad footwork. He is on a level even below Posada’s. And like I said, he doesn’t even have the body to improve that much to make him close to league average behind the dish. Regardless of arm.

        • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

          He’s the same size as Mauer (6’5, 230). Montero is listed at 6’4, 230. They say he is good enough to stick at C right now but we’ll see. Piazza wasn’t a great defensive C but managed to stick there too.

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            I’ve just never read anything to suggest he would stick at catcher. Fangraphs even called his so-called improvement behind the plate this year as overrated. I did not know he was so close size wise to mauer though. He is also close to Wieters too in size too. That was my bad I guess.

          • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

            He’s still young and might still grow though. We have to see.

          • Zack23 5 years ago

            Written by who? Dave Cameron? Because he’s never mis-judged anything in his life………………#6org

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            Ranking the top organizations in baseball is a lot different then scouting players based on what you see.

          • Zack23 5 years ago

            How many of those guys are actually ‘seeing’ them? Cameron lives in NC, he’s not following Montero around. They just look over scouting reports, and if they have an insider then they just take their word more seriously than others.

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            Well the guy who really praised Jesus Montero’s strides in defense was Jim Callis who lives in NC. Guess we have no way to know who is right.

          • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

            Callis may have had a chance to see him some when he was playing in low A Charleston, SC.

          • Zack23 5 years ago

            Except Mauer is an athletic 6’5 230, so is a guy like Weiters.

      • Montero isn’t going to stay as a catcher. He’s going to be a dh pretty much after sanchez or romine are ready.

    • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

      What’s the rush? Austin Romine is a lot closer to the majors than Sanchez and is cosidered to be the best defensive C in the Yanks minor lge system. His bat is also looked at to be at least lge average as well. He’s already @ AA whereas Sanchez will probably start @ either GCL A or low A (Sally). If he follows the path of Montero he’s at least 3 years before he makes it to AAA.

      As for Heathcott you have to remember how young he was last year. Same goes for another C who doesn’t get much ink in JR Murphy who was the ’09 2nd rnd pick out of HS.

      Heathcott @ 19 @ full season low A ball (Sally lge)

      76 gms, .258/.359 15 SB in 298 AB’s

      Muyphy @ 18/19 @ full season low A ball (Sally lge)

      87 gms, .255/.327 7 hrs 36 walks, 64 ko in 330 AB’s

      In both cases both kids showed decent plate discipline with Heathcott walking 14% of the time and Murphy @ 11%. Not bad for kids who were in HS last year.

  5. jwredsox 5 years ago

    I’m interested to see Sanchez next. He had a good year but he only played in rookie ball and low A so you can’t take all of those numbers for face value. Plus I’m unsure on whether those are hitting leagues or not. But it’s too early imo to have any expectations for him until he starts facing better pitchers with better fastballs and better breaking balls.

    • Zack23 5 years ago

      Remember that he was 17, so it’s not like he was 21-22 out of college putting up numbers against competitor that are 4 years younger than you.

      • jwredsox 5 years ago

        I do know that. But even for a 17 yr old don’t know much about him from his numbers. For all we know his power could be related his ballpark. Or maybe he has a high average because while he has a hitch in his swing pitchers in rookie ball aren’t good enough to exploit it but it could be easily exploited in higher levels. We have no clue about this and to say Romine may be expendable for Sanchez is premature.

        • Zack23 5 years ago

          It’s not just the numbers, scouts love him too.
          If he changed his name to Casey Kelly would you be a believer? 😉

          • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

            Wow can a Yanks or Sox fan make a comment w/o it being discredited? I think Sanchez will be a real prospect but even I can’t get too excited about him until he at least makes AA. That’s how I felt about Montero too. I was soooo happy to see him mash at AA and then eventually turn things around this year in AAA.

          • Zack23 5 years ago

            You must have missed that wink-face that was hiding at the end of the comment.

          • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

            yeah I did. my bad.

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            I wasn’t sure whether it alluding to sarcasm or like making fun of me tbh. my bad too

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            Sorry I forgot since I’m a Sox fan I hate every Yankees player. And scouts love everybody because they look at ceiling. They see a guy and write about how they see a mix of Darryl Strawberry and Pete Rose in the kid though he is likely never going to reach those levels. Point is, the kid is in low A. I said I wanted to see him in atleast AA before he should be named heir-apparent to the catcher’s position. Because, like I said, numbers lie. Like Brandon Laird who put up big numbers in AAA. From what I read he has a funky swing that can exploited by MLB pitchers.

          • Zack23 5 years ago

            You must have missed the wink-face too.

            How can you say scouts love everyone, then say scouts say Laird has a swing that can be exploited? Everyone knows you just don’t look at numbers, when a 25 year old dominates AA it means absolutely nothing without scouting reports.

            And the heir-apparent wasn’t your argument. It was trying to find something to blame his good performance on. The kid is 17 and put up a great season of numbers, and the scouting reports backed that up. But becaues either you (a) didn’t read them or (b) want to not believe scouts, you looked for a reason to discredit his numbers. That was my issue.

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            I don’t read scouting reports for everyone. There is no possible for me to. And my problem with it is this: I googled Gary Sanchez Scouting report and of the first 10, only 1 was a real scouting report that was then copied directly by some of the other sites. And this one scouting report was written by a Yankees blogger. And even if we assume no bias all it really got into was his potential like good raw power and the fact that he should put up good contact numbers. Like I said before, these low level guys are judged based on ceiling like this blogger is doing. And some of the other sites say not much is known about him.

        • Just for context, hitters in the Gulf Coast League averaged .247/.321/.349 this year and Sanchez averaged .353/.419/.597 in 131 plate appearances. That easily earns a promotion to the NY-Penn League, where he averaged .278/.333/.426 (in just 60 PAs) whereas the league averaged .249/.326/.362. SSS and all that, but Sanchez slaughtered the competition in the GCL and held his own in the NYPL. As a 17 year old, that’s mighty impressive.

          Maybe pitchers will figure him out as he climbs up the ladder but I don’t blame Yankee fans for being excited about him.

          • YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

            Hey where do you go to find minor lge info like that (lge avg #’s)?

          • Baseballreference dot com slash minors has that information.

  6. YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

    I need to get out and jog..Haha. I’ve been on this site wayyyy too much of late.

  7. YanksFanSince78 5 years ago

    Sometimes I think we look at projection and tools so much that guys like Brandon Laird get overlooked. Not saying he is a star but I think he has the ability to be a .260/.340 15-20 hr guy in the majors and that may not scream superstar but it does translate into a 10 year career and that’s the job of a minor lge system, to produce major league players that can stick even if they aren’t all all-stars. I think we hear prospect and somehow expect all-stars.

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