Toronto Blue Jay: How much can they offer Austin Martin?

Now that the Blue Jays have signed three of their five draft picks, what kind of money are they going to be able to offer Austin Martin?

When Austin Martin fell to the fifth overall pick in this year’s MLB draft, I’m pretty confident the Blue Jays knew they weren’t going to be able to sign him for slot value. That hardly matters when you get a chance to draft a player of his calibre though, and thankfully the Blue Jays pounced on the opportunity.

That said, they’re going to have to be a little bit creative when it comes to Martin’s signing bonus. So far they’ve managed to sign three of their five draft picks, giving 1.8 million to their second rounder CJ Van Eyk, $850,000 to their third round pick Trent Palmer, and $97,500 to their fifth round selection Zach Britton. If they manage to sign all five picks, that leaves Martin and Nick Frasso, the pitcher selected in the fourth round.

What makes it a bit of a financial juggle for the Blue Jays front office is that they’re limited to $9,716,500 for a total pool this year, actually giving them the 9th largest amount to work with across the league. So far they’ve spent $2,747,500 by agreeing to terms with Van Eyk, Palmer, and Britton, leaving them with a total of $6,969,000 remaining.

Where things get interesting is that many folks expect Martin and his agent Scott Boras to seek the money they would have received if he had been taken 2nd overall. The slot amount for 2nd is $7,789,900, meaning the Blue Jays are already short more than $800,000 before they’ve taken a run at signing their fourth rounder as well. If they were to give Frasso his slot amount of $549,000, that leaves just $6,420,000 to offer Martin and keep their bonus pool under the allotted amount.

If you’re thinking the Blue Jays may just pass on signing Frasso, that actually doesn’t help with their total pool amount. In that case, the slot amount of $549,000 would actually be subtracted from their total cash, so it leaving Frasso unsigned doesn’t help with Martin.

The Blue Jays do have the option of going over the allotted amount of $9,716,500, but they will face a penalty in that case. From MLB.com:

“If a club exceeds its assigned pool, it faces a penalty. Teams that outspend their allotment by 0-5 percent pay a 75 percent tax on the overage. At higher thresholds, clubs lose future picks: a first-rounder and a 75 percent tax for surpassing their pool by more than 5 and up to 10 percent; a first- and a second-rounder and a 100 percent tax for more than 10 and up to 15 percent; and two first-rounders and a 100 percent tax for more than 15 percent.

In eight years with these rules, teams have exceeded their allotments a total of 149 times but never by more than 5 percent. Twenty-one of the 30 teams outspent their pools last year.”

I’m not a big math guy, but I think I can handle this. If the Blue Jays go to a max of 5% over the $9,716,500 total, that would give them an extra $485,825 to play with before they risk losing draft picks. If we go back to that figure of $6,420,000 that we reached after theoretically signing Frasso for slot value and add the extra 5% of $485,825, we get $6,905,825, which is still pretty short of the slot amount for 2nd overall.

The only way the Blue Jays can offer more is to save pool money by signing Frasso, which could then be allocated to Martin’s offer, or they could go over the 5% threshold, something that’s never been done, and seems very unlikely. While they were in the ballpark (pun intended) with Van Eyk and Palmer, the Blue Jays did save more than $300,000 with Britton’s contract, inking him for $97,500 when his slot value was $410,100.

Does your brain hurt yet?

Next: Where does Martin rank among Blue Jays prospects?

We’ll see what happens in the coming days here, but it looks like the Blue Jays will be shy of the amount Martin could have received if he had gone 2nd overall. They should still be able to make him a pretty hefty offer though, and one that I anticipate he’ll accept.


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