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Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

August 19, 2011 at 6:56 AM

Mariners spent big in the draft

hultzenmiller.jpg

(The Mariners’ top two draft picks, LHP Danny Hultzen (left) and SS Brad Miller, at their press conference on Wednesday. Photo by Associated Press).

Jim Callis of Baseball America has some interesting financial numbers from the draft, which concluded Monday with a feeding frenzy of signings to beat the Aug. 15 deadline.

According to Callis, the 30 MLB teams spent a record $227,969,050 in bonuses, up 16 percent from the previous high. On deadline day, they meted out $132,098,500 in bonuses, another record.

The Mariners were right in the middle of that spending spree. Led by the huge contract they gave out to No. 1 draft pick Danny Hultzen (five-year, $8.5 million guarantee, with a $6.35 million bonus, the fifth-highest guarantee and bonus in draft history), they awarded $11,330,500 in bonuses, according to Baseball America. That ranked seventh among all MLB teams. Here are the teams that spent over $10 million:

1, Pirates $17,005,700

2, Nationals $15,002,100

3, Royals $14,066,000

4, Cubs $11,954,550

5, Diamondbacks $11,930,000

6, Rays $11,482,900

7, Mariners $11,330,500

8, Padres $11,020,600

9, Blue Jays $10,996,500

10, Red Sox $10,978,700

The Pirates’ bonus expenditure is a new record. In fact, the top five teams all smashed the old record of $11,927,200 by the 2010 Nationals. It is speculated by Callis and others that teams felt free to open their wallets this year in anticipation of draft slotting in next year’s collective bargaining agreement that will curtail bonuses. However, that’s no guarantee, because the union is philosophically opposed to anything that limits the free market. It has fought slotting in the past and will again.,

In lieu of formal slotting, MLB has a policy of suggested bonuses for each draft position, but increasingly, teams are ignoring those to ensure that they get their draft picks signed. For instance, the Mariners, according to Baseball America, spent $9,840,000 in bonuses in the top 10 rounds (in which they had 11 picks, including a supplemental third-rounder). That’s 175 percent over MLB’s suggested slotting for those picks of $5,608,300.

But that’s the price of doing business, and Mariners fans should be happy that they were willing to buck the slotting, something that wasn’t always the case until recent years. For instance, the slot for fifth-rounder Tyler Marlette, a high-school catcher, was $165,000, but the Mariners paid him a $650,000 bonus. They also went way over slot to sign ninth-rounder Cavan Cohoes, a high school shortstop playing at a military high school in Germany, to a $650,000 bonus. Supplemental third-rounder Carter Capps received a $500,000 bonus, more than double the suggested slot of $243,000.

The Mariners lost one top draft pick — third-rounder Kevin Cron, a power-hitting first baseman from Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix who reportedly turned down a hefty Mariners bonus offer to attend Texas Christian University.

But overall, the Mariners signed 23 of their first 24 picks, and were willing to spend what it took to do so.

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