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Report: Spencer Torkelson to sign for record bonus

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Tigers also ink Daniel Cabrera, now have all draftees signed

NCAA BASEBALL: JUN 01 Div 1 Championship Baton Rouge Regional - Arizona State v Stony Brook Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers made Arizona State infielder Spencer Torkelson the first overall draft pick on June 5. Now, they are prepared to sign him to the highest signing bonus ever paid, according to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News.

Jason Beck of MLB.com wrote on Wednesday

Avila said Wednesday they expect to get a deal done. Most likely, Torkelson’s deal will be finalized in the coming days. He is expected to be considered for the Tigers’ 60-man Spring Training roster, which would allow him to take part in camp and work out the rest of the summer as part of the taxi squad. That 60 man roster must be submitted by Sunday night.

The Tigers also came to terms with outfielder Daniel Cabrera for a signing bonus of $1.2 million, which is almost $100,000 above the slot value. Cabrera was taken with the Tigers’ competitive balance selection in Round B, which follows the second round of the draft. The two signings complete the Tigers’ abbreviated draft haul of six players.

Torkelson is set to sign for a record bonus of $8,416,300, which is $1,000 above slot value for the first overall draft selection. The bonus tops the previous record of $8,100,000 that the Baltimore Orioles gave first overall pick Adley Rutschman in 2019.

The highest bonus ever paid by the Tigers, is the $7.5 million that the Tigers gave Casey Mize, the firs overall selection in 2018. Torkelson becomes the first player ever to be drafted first overall and receive a signing bonus that is above slot value. Rutschman and Mize both signed below slot value.

Baseball America ranks Torkelson as baseball’s No. 11 overall on its Top 100 prospects, and he is No. 38 on FanGraphs rankings. He hit .337/.463/.729 with 54 home runs in 628 plate appearances while playing first base at Arizona State, although the Tigers drafted him as a third baseman.

This chart shows the Tigers draft selections with their signing bonuses and slot values.

Detroit Tigers Draft Signings

Round Overall Player Position School Slot allotment 5% over slot Signing bonus Difference
Round Overall Player Position School Slot allotment 5% over slot Signing bonus Difference
1 1 Spencer Torkelson 3B Arizona St $8,415,300 8,836,065 8,416,300 1,000
2 38 Dillon Dingler C Ohio State 1,952,300 2,028,915 1,952,300 0
2 62 Danny Cabrera OF LSU 1,102,700 1,157,835 1,200,000 97,300
3 73 Trei Cruz SS Rice 857,400 900,270 900,000 42,600
4 102 Gage Workman 3B Arizona St 571,400 599,970 1,000,000 428,600
5 132 Colt Keith 3B Biloxi HS, Miss 426,600 447,930 500,000 73,400
Total 13,325,700 13,991,985 13,968,600 642,900

The Tigers paid signing bonuses of just under $14 million or $642,900 above the slot value. Five of the six players signed for bonuses above slot value. Had they spent another $23,285, they would have been more than 5 percent above their total bonus pool which would have cost them a tax of 100 percent of the overage plus the loss of a first round draft pick next season. No team has ever gone more than 5 percent over. As it stands, the Tigers will pay a tax of 75 percent of the overage, which is $482,175.

Thanks to the now infamous “March agreement” between major league owners and players, draft bonuses remained the same in 2020 as they were in 2019. They were set to increase by 3 percent otherwise. Also, players will receive just $100,000 of their signing bonuses within 30 days of signing, with 50% of the remaining bonuses paid on July 1, 2021, and the other 50% paid on July 1, 2022.

Players who were not drafted within the first five rounds can only receive a bonus of $20,000. Sixth round draftees received bonuses of over $600,000 before the March agreement. Even at that bargain rate, the Tigers have not signed any undrafted free agents.