Three days of draft picks are in the books and the Atlanta Braves will now set out to sign as many of their 22 draftees as possible. The Braves surprised everyone with their picks in the 2022 MLB Draft and went heavy on high school right handed pitchers, while spreading out their bonus pool across a number of picks. 20th overall selection Owen Murphy is the jewel of the draft and Atlanta is hoping to get the talented pitcher under slot to have more money to spend. Comp round pick JR Ritchie and second round pick Cole Phillips will take up a chunk of that extra money and should go over their slot allotments. From day two, we expect high school right handed pitcher Seth Keller and Oregon starter Adam Maier to demand high bonuses to keep them out of school.
Below is our now annual draft tracker, where we will keep up with which players have signed, for how much they signed, and what the Braves have left to spend on the unsigned picks. A couple of new features this year is that for our players with write ups, you can click on their names to take you to our profiles of them after they were drafted. For other players, you can find our day two recap here and our day three recap here.
If you need a quick primer on the draft rules, we’ll go over bonus information here. The way bonus pools work is that each pick for the first two rounds has a slotted bonus allotment attached to it. Teams are not required to give each draftee exactly their bonus allotment, but these slot values add up to a total bonus pool they are allowed to spend across all draft picks. The Braves have a total bonus pool to spend this season of $10,224,300, and any signing bonus total over that will see a 75% penalty on the overage up to 5% overage. The Braves will likely exceed this first allotted number and pay the tax, but are highly unlikely to exceed their 5% threshold of $10,735,515. If they were to go over that number they would forfeit a first round pick next season, which greatly outweighs the benefit of the extra players they could sign. The bonus pool can be found on the sheet next to “total pool” with the 5% overage below that. The remaining money to each threshold will be to the right of those pools.
***UPDATE*** Prior to the draft the bonus pools were updated slightly. Every pick within the first ten rounds increased in slot value. This has been reflected in the spreadsheet. The Braves added $5300 to their pool bringing their total pool to $10,229,600 and their 5% overage to $10,741,080
Any pick from 11-20 can be signed for up to $125K without impacting the bonus pool, but anything over $125k and the overage will be counted against that value. For example, should Christian Jackson sign for $250K in the 19th round, the Braves would lose $125K of their bonus pool (250K - 125K). All bonuses from the first ten rounds count against the bonus pool regardless of the amount, and any player from the first ten rounds that does not sign a contract with the Braves will have the money from their slot value removed from the Braves overall bonus pool. As an example, should Cole Phillips not sign in the second round, the Braves would lose that $1,306,700 and have their pool reduced to $8,917,600. Because of this, teams typically have deals in place with everyone in the top 10 prior to the draft, and will not take a player in the top 10 if they cannot sign them. There are exceptions, like the Braves not signing on Carter Stewart because of his medicals, but typically the top 10 rounds will sign every season.
There are a couple of weird rules that are important to discuss, the primary one being contingency bonuses. Every draftee gets this $2,500 contingency bonus added on to their contract automatically which does not apply to the bonus pool, although each team applies it differently. Some teams simply allow the players the extra money, whereas the Braves typically consider that as part of their overall bonus. So, should their third round pick get, say $400k, the Braves would consider the $2500 as part of that and only $397,500 would count against their bonus pool. It’s an accounting trick they use to get an extra few thousand to spend every season, although in some cases they do not allow that.
Another important rule is the case of an unsigned pick in the first three rounds. Should a player in one of these rounds not sign the drafting team loses the rights to said player and the bonus pool allotment, but as compensation receives a draft pick in the subsequent draft. For picks in the top two rounds they receive a pick that is one slot lower. The Braves did not sign Carter Stewart with the 8th overall pick in 2018, and thus they were given the 9th overall pick in 2019. Should a third round pick not sign, the team receives a compensation pick after the end of the third round. This rarely occurs, and is only given if the drafting team offers at least 40% of the slot value to the draftee, unless the player is a top 50 pitcher who declined to submit a pre-draft MRI.