Next up in our amateur signing bonus series, the soon-to-be no longer defending champs…
- Andrew Brackman, $3.55MM (2007)
- Gary Sanchez, $3MM (2009)
- Wily Mo Pena, $2.44MM (1999)
- Ian Kennedy, $2.25MM (2006)
- 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 Jackson–Curtis Granderson–Max 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.