Large bonus pool gives Reds flexibility in Draft

Large bonus pool gives Reds flexibility in Draft

DENVER -- One of the cornerstones of the Reds' rebuilding process is an aggressive investment in the amateur player market via the Draft. That could be a little easier to do this year, because Cincinnati has Major League Baseball's largest bonus pool for the first 10 rounds.

In part because the Reds have the No. 2 overall pick, and the top lottery round pick at No. 35 overall, they will have $13,923,700 to work with when trying to sign players. Of course, there are no guarantees on how that money will be spent, or if signings will work out, but it's a nice advantage to have over other clubs.

Complete 2016 Draft coverage

"It gives you an opportunity to be creative and do a lot of different things to try and have a strong Draft and improve the depth and inventory of your organization," Reds president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty said. "It's very beneficial."

The 2016 Draft will take place from Thursday, June 9 through Saturday, Jun 11, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 77 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 12:30 p.m. on Friday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,500 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

"The way the Draft is today, with caps and everything, the bigger your cap, the bigger your advantage," Reds director of scouting Chris Buckley said.

It enables Cincinnati to potentially take some of the money slotted for a player in one round and give it to another in a later round. It provides a chance to take a shot at selecting top-level players who aren't considered as signable and offer bigger bonuses with the hope the club can get them.

That doesn't mean it will always work, however.

"Sometimes, no matter how much money you have, you can't get together [on a deal], or we don't see the value there," Buckley said. "And many players want to postpone signing and go to college."

The Astros had biggest draft bonus pool the past few years, and they have shown ingenuity when given the advantage. In 2012, Houston picked shortstop Carlos Correa higher than expected at No. 1 overall but paid him well below his slot value. That allowed the Astros to take pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. at No. 41. Since Houston felt he had first-round talent, it paid McCullers well above the slot value assigned to the 41st pick to get him to sign.

For the No. 2 pick in this year's Draft, the slot value is $7,762,900. The No. 35 pick is valued at $1,837,200.

"This year, it's very exciting," Buckley said. "It will enable us to get more creative throughout the entire Draft -- not just early in the Draft, but later in the Draft. We've worked hard and are finishing up all the medical and psychological reports."

Each pick in the top 10 rounds comes with an assigned value, and the total for each of a team's choices covers what it can spend without penalty in those rounds. Any bonus money in excess of $100,000 given to an individual player selected in rounds 11-40 also counts against a club's bonus pool. The amounts rise each year in accordance with Major League Baseball's revenue growth, and the total increased by 4.62 percent compared to 2015.

Any team going up to five 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.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.