When news broke immediately after last week’s draft that the Cincinnati Reds and 1st round pick Nick Lodolo were initially of the agreement that the talented lefty would receive his full $5.43 million slot bonus when signing, that made a few of us a tad nervous. Not because he’s not worth it, but because that would take a huge chunk out of the team’s overall draft bonus pool, something that would make inking their uber talented 2nd and 3rd round picks - both high schoolers committed to SEC powers - quite the tough task.
Fortunately, the Cincinnati Reds were able to find a way to pull it off, though, as yesterday both 2nd round pick Rece Hinds and 3rd rounder Tyler Callihan put pen to paper to become professionals, bypassing their scholarships to LSU and the University of South Carolina, respectively. The team did the ol’ news-breaking.
Callihan received the reported $1.5 million bonus that was kicked around publicly a few days ago, which was more than double his slot value of $710,700. Hinds, on the other hand, reportedly signed for some $1.797 million, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, which was more than the $1.507 million slot value.
Of course, finding that kind of additional coin meant that either a) they’re willing to pay a copious amount of overage tax as well as risking potential draft pick forfeiture in the future, or b) some of the other picks weren’t going to get anywhere close to their full slot values. Considering a) is completely out of the question, it’s no surprise to see 9th rounder T.J. Hopkins sign for just $17,500 and 10th rounder Jake Stevenson for merely $7,500. Both Hopkins and Stevenson were college seniors, meaning they don’t have any leverage in these negotiations - they can’t merely go back to school for another year and hope they improve their draft stock - so the Reds were able to recoup enough by signing them under-slot to merely be in the 5% overage tax range, something they appear to be willing to cough up money for given the byproduct.
In a bit of a cruel twist of fate, Hopkins just wrapped up his senior year at the University of South Carolina, and the Reds saving money on his signing helped the Reds give Callihan enough money to forego his commitment there. Funny world, this business of baseball.
For all updates on the signings - and bonuses - of the recently drafted Reds, check out our friend Doug Gray’s work at RedsMinorLeagues.com.
In other news, The Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale spoke with Reds front office job-title-haver Dick Williams about any early trade deadline rumblings, and there’s some interesting, albeit incredibly predictable deflecting from Williams on the topic. The nebulous comments should come as no surprise, really, as the direction the Reds will go as the July 31st trade deadline approaches is about as up in the air as it can be. Not only is the team as currently constructed capable of making a run to make this season interesting, but it’s also put together with so danged many pending free agents that picking one singular direction might be oversimplifying what the Reds do. They could buy and sell, and they could do both while either languishing in last place or surging towards a wild card berth. Maybe they flip Tanner Roark and Yasiel Puig while also picking up a from another seller who has team control behind 2019, for instance.
Finally, in case you’re interested in a more lengthy discussion of the Reds draft signings, their potential moves as the trade deadline approaches, and what to do when Scooter Gennett and Alex Wood get healthy - which should be soon - check out the latest episode of the Red Reporter Podcast, which we recorded just last night. Tony Wolfe and Mitchell Clark, the Arkansas Reds Fan himself, joined me to yap about these and many other topics, including a pretty damn big announcement from Tony that’s worth y’all finding out about. Have a listen!