The 2018 MLB Draft starts on Monday, the first of three days of picks. The Dodgers pick dead last in every round, by virtue of finishing with the best record in baseball in 2017. As such, they have the smallest draft bonus pool available among major league teams.
The allotted slot values for the Dodgers’ draft picks through the first 10 rounds total just shy of $5.3 million, the smallest among baseball’s 30 teams. That’s down 8.7% from last year, when the Dodgers picked 23rd in the first round instead of 30th.
Dodgers 2018 draft bonus pool
Slot values are in place to create cost certainty for MLB owners, and how they work is that each pick through the 10th round has an allotted bonus value, ranging from $8,096,300 for the first overall pick by the Tigers down to $136,800 for pick No. 314, the Dodgers’ final pick in the 10th round.
The total of those picks for each team represents their entire allotted bonus pool, and counts for all 40 rounds of the draft. For picks from the 11th through 40th round, any individual bonus amount above $125,000 counts toward the pool. In 2017 for instance the Dodgers paid a $247,500 bonus to Jacob Amaya, a high school shortstop they drafted in the 11th round. Of that, $122,500 counted toward the Dodgers’ bonus pool.
In the lower portion of the first 10 rounds, teams will often use those picks to draft players who otherwise might not have been drafted that high, signing them for a lower bonus to allow for more room in the pool to either sign earlier picks or higher-priced selections later. Last year the Dodgers paid $1,500 bonuses to both Connor Strain and Zach Reks, drafted in the ninth and 10th rounds, a combined $267,400 below their allotted slot values.
Penalties exist to prevent teams from exceeding the bonus pool, but the big one is the five-percent mark. If a team spends five percent over their allotted bonus pool they not only pay a 75% tax on the overage but also lose a first-round draft pick the next year.
The Dodgers have spent over their bonus pool every year of this current slot incarnation — many teams do — but have never reached the 5% mark. To date, no MLB team has spent enough on draft bonuses to forfeit a future pick.
In other words, while the Dodgers’ total bonus pool might be $5,288,200, but their effective limit is $5,552,609, one dollar less than the 5% overage mark.
The first round of the MLB Draft (actually the first 43 picks) will be televised by MLB Network beginning at 4 p.m. PT on Monday. After that there will be television for the remainder of the draft, which ends on Wednesday. Instead, online streaming is available through MLB.com.