Deadline day for signing draft picks came last night.  Did the Mets hold true to form and not pay over slot?

One of the valid criticisms of the Omar Minaya-era Mets is the team’s refusal to pay “over slot” bonuses for their draft picks. Commissioner Selig “recommends” how much each club should pay for each round of the draft. This is not a binding edict and clubs can and do go over slot to get top quality players. However, those clubs that do adhere to the commissioner’s policy earn brownie points.

So, how did the Mets do in this regard for the 2009 Draft? Yesterday was the deadline to sign draft picks and Baseball America has the bonuses paid to each player in the first 10 rounds and various other players. So, below I will list the Mets’ picks and give their bonus information, along with the player picked before and after them for some perspective, since the slotting recommendations are not made public.

First Round – Mets had no pick due to the signing of free agent Francisco Rodriguez. They would have picked 24th and that player signed for $1,242,000, which was in line with what the 23rd and 25th picks received.

Second Round – Steven Matz, who signed for $895,000. The 71st pick in the draft went for $514,000 while the 73rd pick went for $499,000. Matz’ bonus was the third-highest amount of the round, even though the Mets picked near the bottom. Clearly the Mets went over slot on this pick.

Third Round – Robbie Shields, who signed for $315,000. The 102nd pick did not sign while the 104th pick got $1,000,000. This was one of the lowest bonuses paid to any third-round pick.

Fourth Round – Darrell Ceciliana, who signed for $204,300. The 133rd pick got $200,000 while the 135th pick got $195,000. This was a slot-level bonus.

Fifth Round – Damien Magnifico, who did not sign. Rumors near the deadline had the Mets signing either Matz or Magnifico to an above-slot bonus.

Sixth Round – David Buchanan, who did not sign.

Seventh Round – Darin Gorski, who got $118,000. The 223rd pick did not sign while the 225th pick signed for $150,000. This was a slot-level bonus.

Eighth Round – Taylor Freeman signed for $100,000. The 253rd pick signed for $105,000 while the 255th pick signed for $40,000. Most picks in this round signed for around $100,000.

Ninth Round – Jeff Glenn signed for $150,000. The 283rd pick signed for $29,500 while the 285th pick signed for $125,000. This was an over-slot bonus, though the Rays spent $625,000 on a player picked in this spot.

Tenth Round – Nick Santomauro, who signed for $82,000. The 313th pick signed for $90,000 while the 315th pick did not sign. This was a slot-level bonus.

In the 13th round, the Mets signed Zach Dotson for $500,000. The Mets offering this much money kept Dotson from going through with his commitment to play collegiately at the University of Georgia. Also, the Mets signed 16th-round pick Jeff Greene for $125,000. Obviously an over-slot bonus but I could find no mention of what school was interested in the Florida prepster.

*****

Overall, the Mets went over slot a few times in this draft. The most notable was with their second-round pick, which was made possible with having no first-round bonus to pay. Matz, Glenn, Dotson and Greene could all be considered over-slot signings. The Mets had some other picks that could have turned out that way, but they did not come to terms. This is to be expected and is not necessarily a reflection that the Mets refused to spend money on their amateur picks.

The main benefit to clubs going over slot is that it allows them to pick up talented players in later rounds of the draft. Frequently, players let it be known that they plan to go to college and will not sign when drafted out of high school. Sometimes these kids are telling the truth and sometimes it is a negotiation ploy.

By paying over-slot bonuses, teams can get early-round talent later in the draft, like the Mets did with Dotson on the 13th round, giving him a bonus suitable for a second-round pick.

The Mets really needed to sign Matz, given they did not have a first-round pick. The Dotson signing was a bit out of character for them and hopefully the beginning of a new trend in how the team approaches the draft

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