MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Teams spend record $248 million on Draft bonuses

Teams spend record $248 million on Draft bonuses

For the first time in four years of the Draft's bonus-pool era, team spending has surpassed the level to which it had risen without restrictions.

This summer, clubs shelled out a combined $248,831,830 in bonuses. That amount not only eclipsed the bonus record of $228,009,050 set in 2011, the final year of the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement before spending limits were introduced, but also the $236,059,050 standard for total guarantees established the same year. Clubs used to be able to give draftees additional money beyond bonuses via Major League contracts, but they are prohibited from doing so in the current CBA.

The industry spent a total of $222,809,919 on Draft bonuses last year.

Team Draft spending
Below is a complete list of Draft spending for each team in 2015. Note that the bonuses are the totals for all 40 rounds, while the original bonus pools apply to only the first 10 rounds (and any bonus amounts in excess of $100,000 for players in rounds 11-40).
Team Draft bonuses Original pool
Astros $19,103,000 $17,289,200
Rockies $14,415,900 $13,989,800
Braves $12,659,400 $10,684,100
D-backs $12,270,900 $12,816,100
Rangers $10,728,300 $9,099,900
Yankees $9,442,800 $7,885,000
Reds $9,018,050 $7,777,900
Giants $8,865,300 $7,515,500
Pirates $8,485,000 $7,392,200
Indians $8,461,880 $7,234,200
Brewers $8,352,600 $7,743,800
Cubs $8,335,700 $7,236,100
Cardinals $8,247,400 $7,387,600
Royals $7,994,300 $7,206,700
Rays $7,946,400 $6,591,300
Phillies $7,653,200 $7,058,500
Tigers $7,606,700 $7,114,300
Red Sox $7,589,000 $6,223,800
Marlins $7,551,400 $6,766,400
Dodgers $7,363,600 $7,781,700
Twins $7,154,400 $7,388,700
Orioles $7,031,200 $6,850,400
Athletics $6,381,000 $5,444,100
White Sox $5,977,600 $5,347,500
Angels $5,835,800 $5,050,100
Mariners $5,368,600 $4,186,900
Nationals $4,982,800 $4,102,700
Padres $4,892,100 $3,671,200
Blue Jays $4,848,800 $5,411,000
Mets $4,268,700 $3,587,800

The Astros led the way in 2015 by spending a record $19,103,000 on bonuses. The first team with two of the first five picks in the Draft, they paid Alex Bregman $5.9 million at No. 2 and Kyle Tucker $4 million at No. 5. Houston also gave 37th overall choice Daz Cameron $4 million, surpassing the previous supplemental first-round mark of $3.55 million that Sean Manaea received from the Royals in 2013.

The Astros' bonus total eclipsed the $17,005,700 dished out by the 2011 Pirates, whose two biggest expenditures were $8 million for No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole and $5 million for second-rounder Josh Bell. Cole's bonus remains the highest in Draft history, while Bell's is still the most outside the first round. The 2009 Nationals retain the record for most guaranteed money paid in one Draft at $19,118,604 -- $11,511,500 in bonuses, including $7.5 million for No. 1 overall choice Stephen Strasburg, and an additional $7,607,104 in a big league contract for Strasburg.

The 35 first-rounders who signed averaged $2,774,945 in bonuses, erasing another record established in 2011 ($2,653,375). First-round bonuses were up 6.2 percent from 2014, when they averaged $2,612,045.

In addition to the Astros, four other teams surpassed $10 million in bonus spending this summer. The Rockies ranked second at $14,415,900, followed by the Braves ($12,659,400), Diamondbacks ($12,270,900) and Rangers ($10,728,300). Not coincidentally, those five teams also had the five highest assigned bonus pools for the first 10 rounds, ranging from $17,289,200 for Houston to $9,099,900 for Texas.

Arizona paid No. 1 overall selection Dansby Swanson $6.5 million, the highest bonus in the 2015 Draft and tied for the sixth-most ever. Nevertheless, the Diamondbacks underspent their $12,816,100 allotment for the first 10 rounds by $1,687,200. In the previous three years of the current system, only one club managed to fall short of its pool allocation by even half as much: the 2013 Astros, at $877,300.

Any team that overspends its pool by more than 5 percent loses a future first-round selection (with escalating penalties docking a first- and a second-rounder for an overage or more than 10 percent and two first-rounders for an overage of more than 15 percent), and no club has crossed that threshold. Teams that exceed their allocation by less than 5 percent must pay a 75 percent tax on their overage, a penalty that 14 clubs were willing to accept in 2015.

They'll pay a combined $3,066,960 in tax, which will be distributed among teams that are eligible for revenue sharing and didn't exceed their pools. The highest tax bills belong to the Astros ($431,850), Braves ($350,475) and Rangers ($325,000). The Giants (4.99 percent), Dodgers (4.95 percent) and Rangers (4.76 percent) came the closest to the 5 percent threshold.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.