On July 11th, the next batch of home run hitters, strikeout artists, and Gold Glove fielders will start their professional journeys. The Pittsburgh Pirates will get the festivities started, as they hold the first overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. At that point, the MLB draft slot values for this year’s proceedings will come into play.
MLB draft slot values
Due to the pandemic, the MLB draft slot values are not changing, and will remain identical to the figures establishes for the prior two drafts. The MLB draft system is a little bit more involved than in some of the other professional sports, here is a quick primer that delves into an explanation of MLB draft slot values.
What is an MLB draft slot value?
At each selection of the ten round draft, there is an assigned bonus value that can be paid to the player drafted at that selection.
Although these designations are supposed to be the exact figure the player receives as a bonus, teams do have the option of paying more or less than each slot value.
Teams have different strategic approaches to this based on how they see the draft unfolding. Some teams will reward their higher draft picks with bonuses in excess of the slot value. Other franchises will choose to fork over less than the slot value for a given round, with other ideas as to how they should spend the money.
How much do MLB draft picks get paid?
Using each slot’s assigned value as a guide, draft picks get paid around the amount that their selection is worth.
For example, the first overall selection in the 2021 draft has an assigned value of $8,415,300.
Whomever the Pirates decide to select at that pick will receive around, or exactly, that amount in guaranteed bonuses.
Each subsequent pick has a decreased bonus value. The Los Angeles Dodgers have the final pick in the first round, and that pick has an MLB draft slot value of $2,424,600. For context, the final pick of the entire draft (also held by the Dodgers) has an MLB draft slot value of $142,200 this year.
How much can teams spend on draft picks?
The amount that teams can spend on guaranteed bonuses differs from club to club. This can seem somewhat unfair on the surface, but it is designed to bolster the fortunes of the worst teams in the MLB from last season.
The amount that teams can spend on their bonuses across all ten rounds of the draft is determined by the cumulative total of the MLB draft slot values.
For example, the Detroit Tigers can spend $14,253,800 on bonus for all of their picks this year. Teams do have the option of spending more than that amount, but there are taxes associated with doing so. In the most extreme examples, franchises can actually lose future draft picks for going over their total significantly.
Comparing MLB draft slot values to other sports
The NBA’s slot values are a lot more comparable to the figures we see in MLB.
Anthony Edwards, who was selected first overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, made just under $10 million this season.
He’ll make just over $10 million in each of the next two seasons. In 2024, that salary will increase to $13.5 million. The NFL’s slotting system is a bit more lucrative. Trevor Lawrence, selected first overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, is expected to earn around $37 million in his first contract. This includes a signing bonus worth around $24 million.