P2Daily: This Year’s College Senior Class is Getting Paid

The Pittsburgh Pirates are expected to sign 2022 first round pick Termarr Johnson today. Johnson has been spotted in Pittsburgh, and is expected to take a physical today, according to Jon Heyman.

We will have more on Johnson later today, with a Prospect Roundtable entirely focused on him.

Yesterday, the Pirates signed 15th round first baseman Josiah Sightler out of South Carolina. Sightler is a college senior, and his choices as far as playing professional baseball were to either accept the offer from the Pirates, or to just not play professional baseball.

Despite the leverage working in their favor, the Pirates gave the college senior a $125,000 signing bonus, which is the maximum you can give a player after the tenth round without it counting against your pool.

Sightler isn’t the only college senior who has been paid. The Pirates also gave bigger bonuses to 16th rounder Nick Cimillo ($100,000), 17th rounder Jaycob Deese ($80,000), and 18th rounder Elijah Birdsong ($100,000). 20th rounder Joshua Loeschorn didn’t get as big of a bonus, but was at $25,000.

There were two college seniors taken in the top ten rounds. Seventh rounder J.P. Massey received a $150,000 bonus, which was a $93,000 savings on his slot price. Tenth rounder Tanner Tredaway signed for $47,500, which was a little over $107,000 in savings.

The picks in the top ten rounds are closer tied to the bonus pool. Last year, the Pirates paid Jackson Glenn and Mike Jarvis a combined $20,000 as fifth and sixth round picks, saving almost $720,000 in slot money — enough to sign Lonnie White Jr. and Braylon Bishop to over-slot deals. The Pirates drafted one college senior after the tenth round last year, giving 17th rounder Carlos Lomeli a $25,000 bonus.

The bigger bonuses for the later round seniors is a change in approach under the new front office. In 2019, the Pirates drafted nine college seniors. These picks all came after the 20th round, in rounds that don’t exist anymore. Every pick received a $2,000 bonus, which was the old standard for players with zero leverage.

That senior class in 2019 hasn’t been bad. Andres Alvarez, taken in the 22nd round, has been the best story. Bear Bellomy, taken in the 28th round, has moved to the upper levels. Josh Bissonette, a 31st round infielder, is one of the best clubhouse leaders in the upper levels.

The exception in 2019 was Aaron Shackelford, who signed for $10,000 in the 14th round. That amount is higher than the standard $2,000, but still lower than the lowest amount given to later round seniors under the new group.

Looking back at that 2019 draft, the later round guys who received bigger bonuses had leverage — JuCo players, college sophomores and juniors who could always go back to school — showing again that the Pirates were giving bonuses based on that leverage factor.

The Pirates have leverage this year with six college seniors taken after the tenth round. With the exception of 14th rounder Julian Bosnic — the lone unsigned senior, who also has an extra year of eligibility — the Pirates have signed these players to massive increases over the token $2,000.

If the Pirates would have given the five college seniors who signed a $2,000 bonus, they would have saved $420,000 to this point.

The thing about that money is it doesn’t count for anything. It doesn’t go against the bonus pool. The Pirates may very well sign every pick in this draft class, and it wouldn’t matter if they paid Sightler a $2,500 bonus or a $125,000 bonus.

I’m sure it would matter to Sightler.

That’s the biggest advantage I can find. The success rate of college seniors is low in the draft, but I wonder how much of that is due to those players being forced into poverty with no bonus and a career that pays $10,000 or less the first few years?

It will be interesting to see how this senior class fares, versus the previous groups. Will the extra money help these players to the majors?

In Sightler’s case, that would be good. The Pirates need a power hitting first baseman.

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John Dreker

I never understood why all teams gave players such small amounts to sign. It makes sense with the bonus pool system to help get better players over-slot and no one is forced to sign for those amounts, top ten round savings guys ALWAYS agree to deals ahead of time, but I’m sure those players signing late for $2,000 could have put in better off-season training if they didn’t need to get a regular job and eat/train on a budget. Those players were also working with worse pay too during the season. Not only did pay go up, housing is paid for now and clubhouse dues were eliminated, and most teams have improved the eating situation at home for players, so things are a lot different than just three years ago. I would still recommend some type of off-season job for someone like Sightler (or anyone mentioned up top), but he can get something that he likes to do part-time and the money won’t matter as much as if he got $5,000 to sign.

joesolo6181

Could this have something to do with the minor league players winning a court case against MLB that will pay them probably less then their attorneys made. So the Pirates give more bonus money and might not have to pay in a future suit? It is good that the seniors get enough money so that they can eat and find living quarters during the year.

Last edited 12 days ago by joesolo6181
Danatural08

Glad to see they’re paying players. That’s pathetic how little they gave Jarvis & Glenn last year. Agree with John’s point below

kend

It needs to be pointed out that all of these seniors had the option to return to college for a fifth year, due to the NCAA Covid exception. Thus they had far more leverage than did any college seniors in past years.

KirkV12

I remain non-plussed on the quantity of college seniors the Pirates took in this draft. But I absolutely agree that, having taken them, it’s both classy and advantageous to pay them some actual money. Cheers to Cherington and co. for treating these players like actual people and giving them a chance to take good care of themselves while focusing on becoming better baseball players, rather than wringing them dry for pennies just because they’re allowed to.

TNBucs

I’d like to think it’s all about classiness but until they hand out a six-figure deal to a player who has no college eligibility left, I’m a little skeptical.

roberto

Not many teams took more high schoolers than the Bucs. And plenty (but not all) of college seniors got paid well. As kend noted, most seniors had leverage.

SouthernBuc

Is this a league wide trend – paying Seniors much more – or a Pirate thing? Given the low wages of the minor leaguers, paying them more of a bonus seems fair, but given the ‘economic decisions’ made by this ownership group spending extra would seem out of character.

kend

It’s a league wide trend because this year’s college seniors still have another year of available eligibility due to the NCAA’s Covid exception. Thus they have a lot of leverage that previous seniors did not have.

TNBucs

Sightler, along with many (all?) of the other seniors, could go back to college for their COVID year. He had more leverage than a guy like Shackleford had.

James_Robert5

Maybe this year the Pirates will get lucky and find their Joe Ryan or Tony Gonsolin (both senior signs)

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