When the Cubs drafted standout C/LF/1B/DH Kyle Schwarber with the 4th overall pick on June 5, it was fair to assume that the Cubs stood to gain a pretty nifty underslot deal here. Most pundits thought it would be Michael Conforto (who fell to #10), but Schwarber was the recipient of some very late helium on draft boards (and GW put it very well why that was), and he was the Cubs pick.
Schwarber just signed, and for $3.125 million dollars. This represents a huge discount on slot. Consider the Top 10 slot values:
#1: $7.922 million
#2: $6.822 million
#3: $5.722 million
#4: $4.621 million
#5: $3.851 million
#6: $3.576 million
#7: $3.301 million
#8: $3.191 million
#9: $3.081 million
#10: $2.971 million
Schwarber more-or-less took #8 money to be drafted #4 (the Rockies, who drafted #8, took Kyle Freeland and underslotted him at $2.3 million, or the #16-17 average).
Where will this savings go? Well, the Cubs drafted a trio of really tough signs in the 6th, 7th, and 8th rounds. Dylan Cease was drafted in the 6th (slot value: $270k, and the reports that it’ll take $1.25 million to sign him). Justin Steele was a 5th round pick ($360k) that will require maybe $600k, and Carson Sands was a 4th round ($481k slot) pick that will require $1 million to sign. That’s roughly $1.75 million over slot that they have to come up with.
The Cubs saved $1.496, and since the bonus pool is 8.352 million, they get an extra .4176 million to play with before the penalties become onerous. That means that if those three sign for what they are expected to, the Cubs have 1.9136 – 1.7500 = 163.6k to throw overslot at someone in an attempt to break someone for his commitment…
Except the Cubs already signed Mark Zagunis to 100k under slot. The word on the street is that Jake Stinnett is a likely underslot guy as well (maybe 150k under slot). You can see that the Cubs might still have 400k to work with on some of the really long shots.
There are two or three real long-shots to get signed. The first is Joey Martarano, who plays linebacker for Boise State. He turned down $100k 3 years ago to play football, and it’s not likely to change now. I assume that he’s more of a draft-and-follow type, but you never know, I guess. The other is Isiah Gilliam, who they drafted in the 23rd round. He’s a 17-year old (might be the youngest player in the whole draft, but I’m not sure) OF with plus raw and plus bat speed and stone feet. If he doesn’t go pro, there’s a chance that he’s a 1st-round talent in 3 years, but he has a high bust chance. If the Cubs can scrape a million to throw his way, they just might get him to sign.
If Gilliam doesn’t sign, there are a few other overslot opportunites the Cubs picked up. Jordan Brink (who was roundly trashed by BP in their eyewitness account (account required)) was their 11th round pick who will require a little extra to sign. 30th and 31st round picks Michael Cantu and Brad Deppermann will probably require some extra love to sign (though Deppermann’s twitter indicates he has perhaps already come to terms), as well as D.J Peters and Riley Adams (though neither of those last two are at all likely to sign).
The main takeaway here is that the Schwarber signing has to be a huge win for the Cubs. I thought they’d get underslot for him, but something like $3.5 million was my optimistic guess. To get him for $3.125 means that they Cubs might get to sign all three of their tough signs AND get one or two of the really tough longshots. If they can ink Cease, Steele, Sands, and two of Deppermann/Cantu/Gilliam, I’ll have to consider the Cubs execution of their plan an A+. It’s open to interpretation whether or not the plan was a good one, but they will have executed it to perfection.