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Cards have strategy for signing Draft picks

Cards have strategy for signing Draft picks

Cards have strategy for signing Draft picks
ST. LOUIS -- Friday's signing of Carson Kelly, a second-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, provided additional insight into the Cardinals' financial strategy for adhering to new Draft bonus restrictions put in place in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement.

A source confirmed that Kelly passed on a scholarship to the University of Oregon for a $1.6 million signing bonus, the second-largest bonus the club has handed out to a 2012 Draftee. First-rounder Michael Wacha signed for $1.9 million.

Kelly's bonus was nearly three times the recommended slot value of the 86th overall pick ($574,300). Not only is that figure a recommended starting point for negotiation, but it also goes into a sum that gives the club an overall allotment.

Based on the recommended values of each of their first 14 picks, the Cardinals have $9.1307 million to divide among the players they took in the first 10 rounds. How much goes to each selection is up to the organization's discretion, though the Cardinals prepared themselves before Draft day to know what various player expectations were.

"Signability was a key part of our due diligence this year," scouting director Dan Kantrovitz said. "You don't know entirely what to expect until you engage in negotiations, but our scouts did a really good job of knowing what these guys were looking for. And that's key. We didn't want to be in a situation where we were surprised."

There are penalties for going over that limit, including the loss of future Draft picks. However, there is also some wiggle room. Teams can exceed their bonus pool by up to 5 percent without being penalized a pick. Any club who goes over their pool by 0-5 percent is simply taxed 75 percent of that overage.

For the Cardinals, that gives them an additional $456,535 to work with, if they decide the financial penalty is worth an investment in a player.

As it stands now, though, the Cardinals seem to have positioned themselves well with their strategy. Kelly is the first signee to exceed his recommended slot figure. Another eight players taken in the first round have also already signed with the Cardinals, and five agreed to a signing bonus below their respective recommended slot number.

Those savings totaled $728,610. When combined with the $1.0257 million the Cardinals spent above-slot on Kelly, the organization currently has a total overage of just $297,090.

While the Cardinals will likely save this money through later signings, that overage also still falls within that 0-5 percent cushion that would not cost the club a future Draft selection.

Of the Cardinals' first 14 picks, five remain unsigned. That number is expected to reduce this weekend, as third baseman Stephen Piscotty is set to travel to St. Louis to sign his contract. Piscotty was taken in the compensation round as the 36th overall pick. He is not expected to command an over-slot bonus.

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