1:38pm: The team has officially announced Schwarer’s signing.
11:20am: The Cubs have agreed to a below-slot bonus with first-round selection Kyle Schwarber, reports MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat (via Twitter). He will sign for $3.125MM, which is nearly $1.5MM shy of the $4.621MM allotment that came with the fourth overall choice.
Arguably the best college bat available, Schwarber was nevertheless something of a surprise choice at fourth overall. While he is said to have good hit and power tools at the plate, the real question is whether or not the Indiana University product can stay behind it defensively. As MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo wrote in rating Schwarber as the 16th-best available prospect, he could ultimately move to the outfield (or, presumably, first base) since his throwing and receiving skills are considered below average.
Baseball America, ranking him 17th overall, noted that Schwarber had improved his work at catcher over time and likely has the athleticism needed to shift to left field if he can’t continue that trajectory. ESPN.com’s Keith Law, meanwhile, placed the 6’0, 240lb left-handed swinger at 26th on his final board.
As Callis notes (Twitter links), the deal with Schwarber works to the advantage of both parties. Schwarber will take down a bigger bonus than he would have if taken in the middle of the draft, while the Cubs can put the slot savings towards other choices. In particular, the club selected a series of high school arms with its fourth through sixth-round choices — Carson Sands, Justin Steele, and Dylan Cease — who could require above-slot bonuses to forego college. Callis opines that the Cubs are likely to land each member of that trio. Chicago entered the draft with $8.35MM and change in available slot space.