Dodgers’ Top 3 MLB Draft picks have yet to sign as deadline approaches

The Dodgers have signed 27 of their 40 selections from the 2017 MLB Draft. With the deadline on Friday at 2 p.m., there isn’t a lot of time left to get players signed.

The concern is that the first three selections haven’t signed, and though 2nd-rounder Morgan Cooper was said to be close to signing just a few days after the draft, there has been no movement on that front just yet. Everyone is waiting for word of 1st-rounder Jeren Kendall‘s signing. He’s the big prize of this draft class for the Dodgers. If they don’t get him signed, it’s going to hurt. A lot. There haven’t been rumors of signability trouble, it’s just assumed he’s contributing to the hold up of the Cooper and Connor Wong signings (and any post-10th-rounders who will require more than $125,000 to turn pro).

The deadline has been moved up this year, so if it feels like this is a little more immediate than other years, you’d be right. I’m not worried about Cooper or Wong ultimately signing, but there’s at least a little concern whether Kendall is going to get the bonus amount he wants or chooses to return to Vanderbilt University for his senior year to try to improve his draft stock.

Kendall was viewed as a potential 1-1 guy before the season began, but a less-than-stellar campaign, combined with legitimate questions about his hit tool caused him to fall to No. 23 overall. Still, being the 23rd pick in a draft that saw 1,215 players selected is no small feat, and I’m not sure he could improve his stock much more. He’s probably going to get Top 10 money when it’s all said and done, so I’d be a little surprised if he goes back to school.

It’s a lot rarer when 1st-rounders don’t sign than do.

Round Player Slot Bonus Savings
1 Jeren Kendall $2,705,200 unsigned ?
2 Morgan Cooper $1,020,700 unsigned ?
3 Connor Wong $539,600 unsigned ?
4 James Marinan $403,500 $825,000 ($421,500)
5 Riley Ottesen $301,800 $197,500 $104,300
6 Wills Montgomerie $234,400 $197,500 $36,900
7 Zachery Pop $184,700 signed ?
8 Rylan Bannon $153,900 $122,500 $31,400
9 Connor Strain $141,300 $1,500 $139,800
10 Zach Reks $134,100 $1,500 $132,600

The Dodgers saved more than $30,000 on the Rylan Bannon signing, most (all) of which will be used to try to get Kendall signed before the Friday 2 p.m. deadline. The Dodgers are $23,500 under their bonus pool with the known signing bonuses. It appears they’re going to need every last extra penny to get Mr. Kendall to sign.

——

Andre Jackson, a hard-throwing right-hander from the University of Utah and the Dodgers’ 12th-round pick, also signed.

There’s no word on his bonus, so assume it’s $125,000 or less.

Since the last update, others who have signed are 16th-rounder Evy Ruibal and 18th-rounder Max Gamboa. Like Jackson, bonus amounts weren’t announced for this pair, so they won’t count against the pool.

One draftee who won’t be signing is 39th-rounder Logan White, Jr., the son of Dodgers’ former vice president of amateur scouting Logan White (and current Padres’ director of pro scouting).

It wasn’t much of a decision for him, honestly. He had a strong commitment to Coastal Carolina University and as a 39th-rounder, there wasn’t going to be a big bonus waiting for him. He’ll be draft-eligible again in 2019.

——

Again, here’s a brief review of how the draft signing process works under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Picks within the first 10 rounds get a slot amount allotted to them, and they must be signed in order for their slot amount to go towards the overall bonus pool. Additionally, any picks from rounds 11-40 or undrafted free agents signed for more than $125,000 (up from $100,000 from the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement) will count against the bonus pool.

Overage (percentage) Penalty (taxed amount)
0-4.99 75 percent tax on overage
5-9.99 75 percent tax on overage
Loss of 2018 1st-round pick
10-14.99 100 percent tax on overage
Loss of 2018 1st- & 2nd-round picks
15-plus 100 percent tax
Loss of 1st-round picks in 2018 & 2019

The Dodgers can go up to $289,709 (5 percent, less $1) over their allotted slot amount of $5,794,200 without losing a draft pick. No team has ever exceeded this bonus pool since this system was implemented in 2012, and it isn’t going to happen now. There’s also an accounting trick that allows the Dodgers to save $2,500 on each pick, and it basically gives the Dodgers an extra $25,000 to sign draft picks.

——

I’d be very surprised if the Dodgers don’t get their top three picks signed and within the bonus restrictions. Friday should be a fun day, though.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He does contracts and depth charts for FanGraphs and is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a one-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, California, and has yet to be shot.