The chaos of the draft is finally finished, and we once again bring you the yearly Atlanta Braves signing tracker. It’s been the weirdest draft we have covered for you, and it will be very interesting to see how the signing bonuses stack up this year. The big spend is of course going to be first round pick Ryan Cusick, a gargantuan fireballer from Wake Forest that will certainly inject some talent and power into the lower levels of the system.
Second rounder Spencer Schwellenbach will be the most interesting to watch from a bonus standpoint, because it is not yet clear if that bonus may come in a bit over-slot or not. The seventh and eighth rounds feature two high profile prep players with AJ Smith-Shawver and Tyler Collins with both likely to eat up a chunk of the Braves savings on mid-round senior signs. 11th rounder Adam Shoemaker will also likely command an overslot bonus and the underclassmen from the 12th to 17th round have some leverage to negotiate, though it is unlikely any will significantly go overslot.
Let’s run down the signing rules for this season so you understand where these numbers all come from. The Braves total bonus pool this season is $6,326,300, and any signing bonus 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 $6,642,615. 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 is given by the sum of the slot values from round 1 through 10, but all 20 picks are subject to that bonus pool.
Any pick from 11-20 can be signed for up to $125K without impacting the bonus pool, but anything over that value and the overage will be counted against that value. For example, should Shoemaker sign for $250K in the 11th 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 Spencer Schwellenbach not sign in the second round, the Braves would lose that $1,185,500 and have their pool reduced to $5,140,800. 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.
I will provide updates below with key information like sources for signing bonus and players stating they either will sign or will go to college.
We have our first confirmed bonus with Adam Shoemaker receiving a well-above-slot bonus
Sources: Adam Shoemaker (11th Round) and the Braves are in agreement on a signing bonus worth approximately $480K. Slot value was worth $125K.— (@mason_mcrae) July 15, 2021
Third round pick Dylan Dodd goes well under slot, freeing up over $480K for the Braves. Luke Waddell and Liam McGill have also signed underslot deals.
3rd-rder Dylan Dodd signs w/@Braves for $122,500 (pick 96 value = $604,800). One of best 5th-yr collegians in @MLBDraft. Southeast Missouri State LHP, plus changeup, deceptive low-90s fastball, strikes w/four pitches. Similar story to Joey Lucchesi.— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) July 16, 2021
9th-rder Liam McGill signs w/@Braves for $7.5K (pick 277 value = $151.3K). Grad student led nation in hitting for @_bryantbaseball, mostly played 1B, can catch (was drafted as a catcher). @MLBDraft #Braves #MLBDraft— Jonathan Mayo (@JonathanMayo) July 17, 2021
Note, I will not be posting sources on 11-20th round picks that are not over slot. This would fill up very quickly if I did.
10th-rder Dylan Spain signs w/@Braves for $17.5K (pick 307 = $143.2K). Had pitched 3 yrs for Div II Hawaii-Hilo, just worked out this year, reportedly added velo. 6-6 and touched mid-90s in workouts. @MLBDraft #Braves #MLBDraft— Jonathan Mayo (@JonathanMayo) July 17, 2021
Two big dominos fall.
4th-rder Cal Conley signs w/@Braves for $422,500 (pick 126 value = $451,800). Texas Tech SS, batted .329/.393/.587 w/15 HR in lone full season, switch-hitter w/feel to hit & sneaky pop, solid speed, high baseball IQ. @MLBDraft— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) July 19, 2021
2nd-rder Spencer Schwellenbach signs w/@Braves for $1 mil (pick 59 value = $1,185,500). Nebraska RHP, mid-90s fastball, low-80s slider, mid-80s changeup w/power sink. Also SS w/high exit velos, had some 1st-rd buzz as pos player. John Olerud Award, Big Ten player of yr. @MLBDraft— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) July 19, 2021
We have three bonuses courtesy of Baseball America, as AJ Smith Shawver and Tyler Collins both signed deals well over slot.
Input a bunch of new signings into our Draft DB. Biggest over slot deals we have right now:— Carlos Collazo (@CarlosACollazo) July 20, 2021
-Joshua Baez, OF, STL (+$911,500)
-AJ Smith-Shawver, RHP, ATL (+$795,900)
-Irv Carter, RHP, TOR (+$497,200)
-Mitch Bratt, RHP, TEX (+$431,800)https://t.co/nM7FnP2T3U #MLBDraft
The biggest signing of them all is in, and it’s Ryan Cusick nearly wiping out the remainder of the pool up to the 5% threshold with a $2.7 million dollar bonus. This will officially spell the end of the chance for the Braves to swing Ty Evans in the 20th round.