Big bonus-pool total gives Astros high hopes

Club looks to replicate success from 2012 Draft by utilizing money efficiently

Big bonus-pool total gives Astros high hopes

HOUSTON -- More money for the Astros to spend in this year's Draft means more options for general manger Jeff Luhnow and scouting director Mike Elias to manipulate the signing-bonus pool like they did so deftly in 2012.

There are, of course, no promises the Astros are going to be able take money from a player at one slot and give it to someone else, but it gives them options other teams don't have.

The Astros, because of the additional pick at No. 2 overall, have the highest signing-bonus pool at $17,289,200. The No. 2 pick, compensation for not signing Brady Aiken last year, has a signing-bonus value of $7,420,100. The No. 5 overall pick has a value of $4,188,700.

"It really depends on different factors, which won't sort themselves out until right before the Draft," Luhnow said. "What it does represent, most importantly, is an opportunity for the Astros to invest $17 million into amateur talent pool and get a multiple of that in terms of player value. We do believe the Draft is a very efficient way to acquire players, and we have the most resources of anybody, so we should have the best yield of any club."

The 2015 Draft will take place from Monday through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday at 5 p.m. CT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 6 p.m., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at noon on Wednesday.

In 2012, the Astros drafted 17-year-old Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa and signed him for below the bonus value of the No. 1 pick and used the extra money to sign pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. (No. 41 overall) and third baseman Rio Ruiz (fourth round) away from college commitments. The Astros saw it as getting three first-round-caliber players.

"Whether we're able to replicate the success we had with that in 2012 is hard to say, because it requires your board stacking up a different way relative to the industry and the players having certain signabilities and expectations that fit into where they think they're going in the Draft, and where they end up going in the Draft is different," Elias said. "We will be cognizant of those opportunities, and if we feel that's the way to go, we'll hope things fall that way and work out.

"It's a lot of money. It's a large pool. There's a lot that can be done with that, but the money within the pool is attached to specific picks, and there's only so much you can do outside of where your Draft picks lie. We're hoping to utilize that pool to the fullest, but the Draft kind of dictates that for us and is a little bit out of our control."

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.