JUNE 21: The Braves have also agreed to a $1.5MM signing bonus for No. 76 pick Brett Cumberland, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). Cumberland, a catcher and draft-eligible sophomore out of Cal, receives a bonus that lands $661K over his slot value of $839,100. He ranked in the Top 100 draft prospects from BA, ESPN and MLB.com, with each praising him as one of the more advanced college bats in the draft but questioning his ability to stick behind the plate. Additionally, Callis reported over the weekend that fourth-rounder Bryse Wilson, a high school right-hander our of North Carolina, agreed to a $1.2MM bonus that represented a deal that was $653K over slot (Twitter link).
That means that the Braves’ second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth selections in the draft have combined to receive bonuses that exceed their pool allotments by a total of about $3.9MM. Atlanta also went $300K over slot for 11th-round pick Matt Bowland, as Callis tweeted last week. That’s a total of $4.2MM in excesses, although the Braves did save approximately $2.5MM by agreeing to a reported bonus of “about” $4MM with No. 3 overall pick Ian Anderson. And, as Callis and Jonathan Mayo have been tracking at MLB.com, the Braves have saved $134,600 on fifth-rounder Jeremy Walker, $281,600 on sixth-rounder Matthew Gonzalez and $219,700 on seventh-rounder J.B. Moss. Atlanta also has a string of college seniors at picks 8-10, and college seniors will often sign for about $10K.
The Braves entered this year’s draft with a $13,319,600 pool and bolstered that figure when they acquired a Competitive Balance pick in the Brian Matusz trade, bringing their total allotment to $14,158,500. They’ll be able to exceed that sum by about $797K without going into the penalty bracket that would force them to lose a future first-round pick. With the over-slot deals to their second through sixth picks as well as their 11th-rounder, the Braves have currently agreed to $13,760,000 in total commitments, placing them about $1.1MM shy of the threshold at which they’d lose a future first-round pick.
JUNE 14: The Braves have agreed to terms with a trio of recently-drafted lefties, per Jim Callis of MLB.com (Twitter links). Competitive balance Round A selection Joey Wentz, second-round choice Kyle Muller, and third-rounder Drew Harrington will all land above-slot bonuses.
Wentz will receive a $3.05MM bonus after being taken with the 40th overall pick, which came with a $1,616,800 pool allocation. Muller’s $2.5MM payday lands over the slot value ($1,459,700) at number 44. And Harrington, who received a bonus of $900K, will also cost the club an additional $111,200 over the value of his own slot.
Wentz, a high school lefty out of Kansas, was seen as a top-thirty prospect entering the draft. Indeed, MLB.com prospect gurus Callis and Jonathan Mayo rated him the 16th-best prospect available, with ESPN’s Keith Law (22nd) and the Baseball America team (26th) having him a bit further down on their boards.
Atlanta was obviously intrigued enough to lure Wentz away from the University of Virginia with a big payday. The appeal lies in his well-rounded arsenal, which includes low-to-mid 90s heater with movement as well as a curve-change offspeed combo. Evaluators also liked Wentz’s large frame, mechanics, and athleticism — not to mention his makeup. It doesn’t hurt that he is also a legitimate hitting prospect.
Likewise, the club nabbed Muller just four picks later. He, too, is a high school draftee with a big body and two-way ability. BA had him rated just ahead of Wentz on its board, noting some of his astounding results on the high school mound. He has only just developed a low-90s fastball, and his secondary offerings aren’t regarded as being special, so there is some projection from those who like the one-time University of Texas commit. MLB.com is also bullish, placing him 24th, while Law saw Muller as the 58th-best name on the board.
Wentz and Muller were clearly major motivating factors in the Braves’ draft day approach. The club went with Ian Anderson with its opening pick, number three overall, with the apparent expectation of locking in savings against the $6.51MM allocation that came with his selection.
As things stand, Atlanta is $2,584,700 over the line with just these three signings. That means the team will need to save quite a bit on Anderson to get in under its overall $13,224,100 pool. The team can go up to 5% over that amount — an additional $661,205 — before hitting penalties that require the sacrifice of a future draft pick.