SEATTLE — The first question that surfaced Tuesday after word broke that the Mariners blew up the slot-bonus system by signing outfielder Gareth Morgan for $2 million was how it would affect their ability to sign other picks within the parameters of their assigned bonus pool.
Morgan's slotted bonus, as the 74th overall pick, was $760,300. Shelling out $2 million represented a healthy chunk of the Mariners' $6,767,900 total pool allotment for the first 10 rounds before moving onto their No. 1 pick, catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson.
That concern is heightened by the fact Jackson, a high school senior from San Diego, is represented by Scott Boras, has college as an option (i.e., leverage), and is expected to want more than his slotted bonus of $3,575,900 as the sixth overall pick.
Those concerns were eased somewhat when Jim Callis of MLB.com reported the Mariners had also reached agreements with their picks from rounds four through 10 at an aggregate of $1,253,500 below slot. If so, that would more than wipe out the Morgan overage of $1,239,700.
If you're wondering...yes, clubs can exceed their total slotted bonus pools, but the penalties for doing so are severe in terms of future drafts. So it rarely happens by any significant amount. The pool amount covers picks through the 10th round. Clubs can spend up to $100,000 on any pick after the 10th round. Any amount over $100,000 is applied to the bonus pool.
We were able to confirm Tuesday that the Mariners had agreements in place with those seven picks in rounds four through 10, and now the numbers are starting to surface. And like Callis reported, it appears the Mariners will be back roughly to even in negotiating with Jackson and third-round pick Austin Cousino, an outfielder from Kentucky.
A note: Many deals are virtually in place before the club drafts a player. For example, if a player wasn't willing to sign for, say, $50,000 under the slotted price, the club would take someone else. That's why there's always a flood of signings within a few days of the draft (or as soon as physicals take place).
An aside and a hat tip: When it comes to reporting on the draft and bonuses, there's nobody better than Callis. And those who want to track all clubs closely should follow him and some of his peers at Baseball America and SB Nation. These folks live and breathe this stuff, and they're good.
For the Mariners' stuff, of course, keep it here. Sometimes, we'll get it first. Other times, we'll get it from one of the above sources — and pass it along with attribution. Either way, we'll get it to you as fast as we can.
As for those numbers, here's a chart to help you keep track.
Note: 2b is a competitive balance B pick (end of second round)