Now that a few days have passed since the signing deadline for 2010 draft picks, bonus totals are starting to come in for teams across the league. According to Baseball America’s Jim Callis, the Brewers spent less money on 2010 draft signings than any other team in baseball. In fact, the $2.432 million they spent on signing bonuses was over $1 million less than the total spent by the next-lowest team, the Twins (Minnesota spent $3.511M).
While it’s reasonable to think that the Brewers only finished last in draft spending because Dylan Covey didn’t take his $2 million, Callis later notes that on average, teams spent $6.5 million on bonuses — even if they did get Covey to sign, they’d still be way below that average.
These numbers are disappointing to see, but it’s not all that surprising. When the Brewers opened the season with a payroll hovering around $90 million, owner Mark Attanasio made it clear that they were spending as much as they could without having to operate in the red (and even that was assuming they’d hit 3 million fans again, which they won’t sniff this year). There’s only so much money to go around, and if you’re going to spend that much on the big league club, draft bonuses are going to suffer.
Ultimately, this can be blamed on the payroll being bloated by the contracts of Jeff Suppan and Bill Hall, who are now playing for other teams while the Brewers foot the bill. The good news is that those contracts (among others) are off the books after next season, and the team’s payroll should be much lower next season. That means more money that could be spent on draft bonuses, which is good considering the team will likely have two Top 15 picks.
In the end, this was generally considered a bad draft year to begin with, so it’s not like the Brewers lost out on a lot by going cheap. Could they have rolled the dice on someone like Stetson Allie or A.J. Cole, who fell to the second round due to bonus demands? Sure. But all indications are that the money will be better spent next year.