I got a question via Twitter this evening from @mrmgwilson that goes as follows:
“Are you surprised Michael Wacha signed for slot?”
The question is totally understandable. Wacha, a right-hander from Texas A&M, was seen as a potential pick in the 10-15 range. That said, I had problems finding a home for him in my final mock draft and slipped him to No. 18 overall, and he ultimately landed one pick later to the Cardinals. Now, as a player expecting to go much higher than 19, it would be logical to expect Wacha to ask for more money than was provided in the bonus pool for the pick, right? Not really, as Wacha signed quickly and, as per Jon Heyman, for exactly the budgeted amount for that pick at an even $1.9 million.
The pool amounts for each pick were designed to provide flexibility to teams—at least on a minor level—so these are not slots, as actually are quite above previous slots. Last year's number 19 overall pick, Matt Barnes of the Red Sox, signed for $1.5 million, which was actually over the slot for that pick, which was just under $1.4 million. In 2010, No. 19 overall pick Mike Foltynewicz signed for just under slot at $1.305 million. With a $1.9 million bonus, Wacha did not sign for slot as much as he received the full bonus pool amount for that pick, which is actually looking like a bit of a rarity.
Of the six players taken prior to Wacha in the first round who have signed, none received 100% of the pool amount, and one of them (Toronto's D.J. Davis at $1.75 million) got less. In this new system, these aren't slots as much as they are portions of a bigger pie that teams are forced to work with. Wacha got his full piece of the pie, with the second highest bonus at No. 19 in draft history, trailing only new system-mate Shelby Miller.
Wacha's $1.9 million bonus is in line with an average of the 2011 slots of the No. 9 and 10 overall picks, so in the new reality, Wacha not only settled, but he did quite well for himself, maximizing his value in a way that no pick ahead of him has yet.