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The Mariners Don't Look at Price Tags

The only known photographic evidence of a Mike Zunino in the wild.
The only known photographic evidence of a Mike Zunino in the wild.

[20 June UPDATE]: Mariners reportedly signed Diaz for $300,000, against a slot figure of $486K. That would leave the Mariners with $4.1 million left in their bonus pool if the reports to date are accurate. Nick Halamandaris ($140K slot) is not expected to sign which means the Mariners must ink Zunino for no more than $4 million give or take a few extra thousand* thanks to Diaz.

*The Mariners can sign Zunino for up to ~$4.36 million without incurring a loss of draft pick penalty.


Selig: Thanks everyone for a wonderful draft this year.
Selig: I look forward to everyone exercising fiscal restraint under our new bonus pool system.
Mariners: //signs Joe DeCarlo for $500K over slot
Selig: Well, that was quite unexpected, haha! Those wacky Mariners!
Mariners: //signs Chris Taylor for $250K over slot
Selig: Heh, oh you guys.
Mariners: //signs Timmy Lopes for $350K over slot
Selig: Umm
Selig: I don't think you guys get the new system.
Mariners: Sure we do.
Selig: You only have $5.25 million left to sign $6.2 million worth of draft picks.
Selig: You're almost out of money!
Mariners: Nah, we got this.
Mariners: //imacheat
Mariners: //imacheat
Mariners: //imacheat
Mariners: //imacheat
Mariners: There. Problem solved.
Mariners: //signs Tyler Pike for $500K over slot
Mariners: What?
Selig: Argh! Why don't you guys ever spend like this for free agents?
Mariners: Pffft. Because they're free.
Mariners: Idiot.

So here's the state of being. The Mariners had an assigned bonus pool of $8,223,400 to sign their eleven picks in the first ten rounds. The team has now officially signed eight of them, spending $3,820,200 to do so. The three left to sign include third overall Mike Zunino (slot: $5.2 million), 98th overall Edwin Diaz (slot: $486K) and eighth-rounder Nick Halamandaris (slot: $140K). The Mariners have $5.7 million worth of expected slot to sign and just $4.4 million to do it in.

First off, the Mariners cannot just fail to sign, say Halamandaris, and then use his $140K to pad down the number. If a team fails to sign a pick, they lose the slot amount from their bonus pool.

Now, the ramifications. If the Mariners exceed the bonus pool up to 5% then they simply pay a fine to Major League Baseball. That's no biggee and it gives the team another $400K worth of breathing room. They're still crunched with that however and above 5% the penalties get rough. Between 5% and 10% over the pool and the Mariners lose their first round pick next year. I don't have to specifically mention that currently the Mariners are in line for another very high pick (6th) next year, but I just did. The Mariners are in line for another very high pick next year. I just did it again.

Above 10% and it becomes next year's first and second round picks. Above 15% and it's first round picks in the next two years (2013 and 2014).

If the Mariners ink Zunino, Diaz and Halamandaris all right at slot (or fail to sign them, the two are equivalent, budget-wise), they'll fall 16% over the cap. Halamandaris' number is so low that he's pretty meaningless in the budgeting process. Diaz too is dwarfed by Zunino, but he could create a couple hundred thou worth of wiggle room. Or about what I spend each week on imported beer.

There's already been a hunch by Jim Callis at Baseball America that nobody yet to sign will sign for over the $4.8 million that Carlos Correa got. If true, that's some savings for the M's with Zunino, who is expected to sign. Hopefully that is a truthful hunch. If Zunino comes in at $4 million, then they'll be fine. That would leave them about $800K to sign $600K-worth without exceeding the harmful 5% mark. So if you're looking for a easy round number on Zunino and whether this could be a very surprising move, use $4 million flat as your barometer.

Zunino and Florida are still playing in the College World Series, so I wouldn't expect a signing until that concludes. We might be awaiting the results of this for a little while.