It’s been three weeks since the 2018 MLB draft, and players who were picked are still making agreements with the teams that drafted them. Casey Mize, the No. 1 overall pick, came to terms with the Detroit Tigers on Monday, and his deal is hefty.
Mize's $7.5 million signing bonus sets a record under the current bonus pool rules. He signed for $596,300 under slot value.
— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) June 25, 2018
That’s a lot of money, and as Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press tweeted, it is a record … sort of. According to Jim Callis of MLB.com, Mize’s $7.5 million bonus actually ties the record for second-highest all-time.
No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize gets $7.5 million from @Tigers, tying Bubba Starling & Stephen Strasburg for second-highest bonus in @MLBDraft history behind Gerrit Cole's $8 million. Auburn RHP, premium stuff & control to match. Will move fast.
— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) June 25, 2018
Mize is in some rarefied air. His bonus equals that of Stephen Strasburg, who spent mere months in the minors before making his major league debut, and is just $500,000 less than Gerrit Cole’s bonus, the highest ever. Mize’s bonus also surpasses Hunter Greene’s, who was offered $7.23 million when he was drafted No. 2 overall by the Cincinnati Reds in 2017.
So how can Mize’s bonus be a record, but also be tied for the second-highest? Because after the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, changes were made to the amateur player draft. Before then, there were no limits on what teams could spend to sign a drafted player. But after, every team had a fixed amount of money they could spend on draft bonuses, which meant they had to be careful or risk penalties by going over.
How does Mize’s $7.5 million compare to what the first pick in the NBA and NFL draft will make in their first year? They both beat Mize and MLB handily. Baker Mayfield, the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick, will make around $33 million over his four-year rookie contract. That’s over $8 million a year, and that doesn’t even include his $21 million signing bonus. While NFL contracts aren’t guaranteed (he might not see all of that money), it still dwarfs Mize’s one-year bonus. In the NBA, Forbes projects No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton will make over $18 million during his two-year guaranteed rookie contract, or $9 million a year. Still more than Mize.
MLB’s system is a lot different than what the NFL and NBA have set up, and Mize’s bonus shouldn’t be confused with a salary. Mize got a one-time $7.5 million bonus to sign with the Tigers, and it will be a long time until he makes that much in a year again, if ever. He’ll make a shockingly small amount of money in the minors — barely over minimum wage, and then only for the months he’s playing. If and when he’s promoted to the majors, he’ll get the MLB minimum salary, which will be $555,000 in 2019. And then he’ll have to spend six years on a major league roster to be granted free agency, which is when he’ll have a chance of making more. Or more accurately, when he’ll have a chance of getting a contract that even comes close to what Mayfield and Ayton will have already made.
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