Slot money = Bonus Money. The commissioner’s office tells MLB Teams how much they can spend on their draft picks round by round. If a player signs for "Slot Money" that means that the player is willing to or has signed for that dollar amount. Some high profile players may sign for "Over Slot" and the team will ignore the commissioner’s guidelines in order to get that particular player to sign. I believe that the MLB Commissioners Office needs to approve out of slot bonuses.
PUHD, I think that there is a misconception here, not sure. Floridafan on the right track.
When a player gets drafted, no one has to give them anything, it's just an incentive to sign on the dotted line. The more options, the more talented, the more needed, the more the team wants you, the more they will pay you a bonus, within what they consider reason (not counting the first pick or two of the draft).
MLB makes a suggestion that each year, teams sign players for what was received from that "slot" the year before (rounds 1-10 with a cost of living increase). But in reality any team can do what they want and yes, ALL contracts with addendums (where your bonus is mentioned) most likely has to be approved by MLB. Knowing "slot" helps a player to decide if that might be acceptable, an example being if a player is projected 5-6th round, he should know and understand what those 60 or so picks offer in the way of a bonus. Slot goes from high to low considering being a HS player or college, if the slot the year before was for a HS player, and you are a college junior or senior, it will be less and vice versa. BTW, scouts rarely will indicate to you where you might fall, they used to do that, but if they told you that they thought you would go in the 3rd, and you went in the 15th, you'd be pretty ****ed off. That is why, for early projection picks having an advisor is recommended, most likely that person has enough knowledge to see where you will fall in the draft. I doubt my sons advisor would have wanted to become his agent if he thought he didn't have the ability to get to the highest level. If it's just some guy telling you he can get you more money and is not familiar with how MLB and the draft works, stay far away. What makes players fall in the draft more than anything else is signability, if you are a 5-6th round projection, and you want 2-3 round money, you aren't going to get it. In retrospect, if you are a 1-2 round projection and you fall to 5th-6th, that would take some negotiating, but if they really want you and you really want to sign it'll happen.
So if you hear someone say they signed for slot, that means they were willing to take what the slot position was suggested without countering. My son signed for slot in 2007 and that suggest slot was his bonus, same thing. He just negotiated what they would pay for him to finish school. He agreed to that pick a few minutes before, and one reason was that he felt the earlier pick would in the long run prove more valuable, rather than waiting as he was slipping. It was a good choice for him (as he was given a choice to say yes or no) and he made it quite clear that he was ready to play at the next level and never made any huge bonus demands to any team, other than where he felt he would like to be drafted. Technically he was considered an easy sign, rather than a tough one out of HS. The object is, if you really want to sign, one should be willing to accept what is offered, if not, don't consider it and take your option. I am a strong beleiver in the more honest you are about seriously going pro, the more they listen. So when you tell a scout I really want to play pro ball and then you ask for a half a million and that is not your worth, well do YOU really want to play proball? What do you think the team thinks of that? They think you won't sign so why should we bother.
Also, after the 10th round, a team can sign a player for whatever they want, especially if some of this early rounds didn't sign. You will often hear about players getting a bonus larger in a later rounds than they would have gotten signing for slot, and that is allowed.
The draft has changed since my son was drafted, the new transfer rules and roster rules has made it more attractive for some players when a team flashes lots of money to get him to sign if he is a top projection. But overall is still is the same.
I have a friend whose son was drafted late 20th round, and he signed for exactly what he wanted (125K). He has had opportunities to play in winter ball, where they make a lot of money. He kept his price low because he really wanted to sign out of HS and he knew that if he worked hard he could make up more money in the game. I don't know if he will ever reach the 40 man roster, but he really made himself attractive out of HS, and he really wanted to play proball. That is sometimes how it works. And someone believed him.
I think that people get angry and disappointed at the draft, but reality is if you really do your homework and understand what you have to do to make yourself attractive for signability, it doesn't have to be all that of a mystery.
Good post TPM--really interesting. Its amazing how much the amount of leverage a player has, such as the difference between a college Junior and a college Senior, can lead to a vast difference in bonus for the same draft spot or very close spots. Harper had all kind of leverage since he could have been drafted at least three more times.
Thanks, that's just the way I see it and sometimes there is no right or wrong, it all depends on who wants you and what they are willing to pay.
Harper is in a good situation because he is so young and will only get better the more at bats he has. He can afford to pass up if his number isn't met. Someone else will be waiting for him next year. However, I really think that Nats will sign him, he will become a very valuable tool for trade to fill in their holes.
A very good example is Kyle Parker out of Clemson, drafted first round. They must have really wanted him because it's going to cost them a lot for him to give up football and the NL draft. I wouldn't be surprised if he got more $$ than some before him, and way above the slot he was taken.
I am a huge proponant of going to school first and getting in as much education as you can and growing up in college, but my opinion changes if the player gets what he wants to begin his pro career if that is really his priority, no matter where he falls in the draft.
Check BaseballAmerica.com if you have a subscription. It is updated frequently. Only the first 10 rounds have the $$$ info. There are other sites out on the web (PG may be one of those), but they might not post until the signing deadline has passed.
TPM, thank you for your very detailed response. Having a son go through the process gives you a greater perspective. We had a JC sophomore on our summer team who was drafted in late rounds sign. He wanted to play pro rather than go to school.
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