Baseball America got their hands on the official bonus pool allotments for MLB teams for the 2016 Draft and International signing period, and the Cincinnati Reds lay claim to the single largest amount.
As Hudson Belinsky notes, the $19,087,100 amount the Reds can spend on signing players they either draft or sign as international free agents is the most in MLB, thanks in large part to the Reds winning the 2016 Competitive Balance Lottery (that will net them a pick in the 30-40 range come June). Yes, the Philadelphia Phillies finished with the worst overall record in 2015 and will own the top overall selection in the upcoming First Year Player Draft, but their lack of a competitive balance pick shrank their overall pool enough for the Reds to be granted the most. (If you check the international amounts, you'll find the Phillies do actually have the largest amount.)
Having both the largest draft pool allotment and ownership of the top pick in Competitive Balance Round A is a huge strategic advantage for the Reds, one that the Houston Astros similarly used to great initial acclaim just last year. Their $17,289,200 amount was the largest in the draft as they, too, held the 2nd overall selection and the first Competitive Balance pick. Their shrewd decision to take Alex Bregman 2nd overall - a college bat who, while very talented, could be signed for well under slot - allowed them to save enough of their pool to pick high school bat Daz Cameron 37th and sign the Florida State commit to a well over-bonus $4 million deal.
The Reds now stand to have that type of flexibility, which could go a very long way to helping them dig out of the cellar of the NL Central.
As for the $5,163,400 amount they have to spend on International signings, that marks a major increase from the $2,783,000 they had to spend in the 2015 window, and that could be very, very important as well. As was noted when news first broke that the Reds had apparently agreed to sign Cuban SS Alfredo Rodriguez, any dollar amount spend over the pool allotment comes with a 100% dollar for dollar overage tax. Since the Reds had already spent most of their 2015 pool money, agreeing to a deal with Rodriguez for the reported $6 million would've actually cost them $12 million, which seemed outlandish. However, with reports now suggesting that no deal has been signed and a deal made after July 2nd (when the new bonus pool period begins) is more likely, the Reds could save some $5 million in penalties for the same original contract.
Or, perhaps, they'll flush that deal altogether and have a less financially devastating way to chase the recently defected Lourdes Gurriel, Jr.
Money doesn't mean everything in this instance, as the team's front office will still have to correctly identify the talent they plan on hurling money towards, but it certainly helps - especially with the small market Reds. Considering they had just over $7,700,000 during last year's draft and signing period, they've been armed with significantly more resources entering 2016.
When you hear people complaining about 'tanking,' this is why. Fortunately for the Reds in the current baseball climate, it paid to be really, really bad.