Pirates Offered Nick Lodolo $1.75M to Sign, Sign Austin Shields with Remaining Pool Money

According to Jon Heyman, the Pittsburgh Pirates offered 41st overall pick Nick Lodolo their entire remaining bonus pool to sign. Heyman reports that they offered $1.75M, which he turned down to attend TCU, as reported here a few days ago. The actual offer for Lodolo was likely slightly higher at $1,761,470, which is all they had left in their bonus pool before they would lose a draft pick.

The signing deadline for the 2016 draft is 5:00 PM tonight. As I broke down in this article, there are still 13 other unsigned picks, with at least five of them already saying they will return to school. The other eight are all covered at the bottom of that article.

The Pirates used their remaining $105,000 in bonus pool money to sign right-handed pitcher Austin Shields according to John Manuel. He was the highest rated remaining player after Lodolo who was unsigned. Shields was the 33rd round pick, which comes with a $100,000 slot, so only the $105,000 counts against the bonus pool. If they are to sign any other players today, they would cost $100,000 or less to sign. You can view the player page for Shields here. He is a high upside, huge right-handed pitcher, so this was as good as you can expect for a fallback plan after Lodolo.

As for Lodolo, it’s a bit surprising that the Pirates offered him the full amount because his upside isn’t really that different from the other three prep players they signed for a total of $2M. Some people had fourth round pick Braeden Ogle rated higher, while others had 11th round pick Max Kranick rated higher. As we found out with second round pick Travis MacGregor, there were some good reasons to rank him even higher than most draft experts did. The same held true for Ogle and Kranick.

Lodolo had said he wanted to go to school and set his bonus demands high before the draft. That doesn’t mean a team should just be willing to meet those demands because they have the money left, because you then set a standard for future picks when you overpay. Lodolo still would have been able to attend TCU if his baseball career didn’t work out, as pro contracts for high school players include extra money for college if the player chooses to attend. So he also turned down that part of the deal on top of the bonus.

The Pirates will get the 42nd overall pick next year as compensation for him not signing. That means the could have a much larger bonus pool than this year, depending on where their first round pick ends up and whether or not they get a competitive balance pick in the draft lottery. The odds are good that they will get a pick, although they didn’t get one back in 2015.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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