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Orioles sign #1 overall pick Adley Rutschman to record bonus

Adley Rutschman’s signing bonus of $8.1 million is a new record for an MLB draft pick.

College World Series - Arkansas v Oregon State - Game Three Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

The Orioles made an exciting choice when they grabbed Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, the consensus #1 player available, with the #1 pick in the draft earlier this month. On Monday evening, the team announced the signing officially. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman was the first to report on the two sides being close to arriving at a deal.

On Sunday evening, Rutschman posted to his Instagram account about being in Baltimore, a post that caught the attention of at least one Orioles fan who posted a screenshot on Twitter. The Instagram post itself was deleted before long, but it didn’t take much imagination to speculate that Rutschman was probably in town to get the last bit of work done on his contract. Heyman was probably going off of more than just the deleted Instagram picture.

With the Orioles holding a “Halfway to Christmas” theme night on Tuesday, introducing a just-signed Rutschman to the fans will be a nice present.

Heyman had also reported earlier on Monday on the possibility of Rutschman receiving a record bonus. His $8.1 million does set a new record for an MLB amateur.

The highest bonus that a team and player have agreed to before now is the $8 million bonus that the Pirates gave to pitcher Gerrit Cole after selecting him with the #1 pick in the 2011 draft. After that draft was when MLB implemented its current bonus pool system, where each pick is assigned a certain value and teams cannot exceed the amount of value for their picks in the first ten rounds without paying strict penalties.

The slot value for the #1 pick in the 2012 draft was $7.2 million, which the Astros, with Mike Elias as scouting director, famously used on a surprise choice, Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa, who agreed to a bonus well under the slot value.

In the years since, the pattern of #1 picks not getting the full slot value has continued to varying degrees, including last year, when Casey Mize signed for a $7.5 million with the Tigers, about $600,000 under the slot value. Mize’s bonus holds the record for being the highest since the draft pick slot values were introduced in 2012.

The slot value for the #1 pick this year is $8,415,300. In using most of that slot money, Rutschman’s bonus breaks both the Mize post-2012 record and the Cole overall record.

Worth noting that using so much of the slot does not seem to be impeding their ability to sign their other high picks. MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis reported on Monday that the Orioles are nearing a deal with their second round pick, Gunnar Henderson:

This is more than $500,000 above the slot value for the pick, but that’s not a problem for the Orioles since they have saved about that much money against their slot values with their other signings from rounds 3-10. They just saved another $300,000 or so in signing Rutschman.

Henderson was the #27 prospect in the draft in the Pipeline rankings, so for the O’s to be able to go overslot to get him with pick #42, that looks like solid drafting.

Now that the Rutschman signing is official, then we can get an idea of where the Orioles are going to assign him for the rest of the season and start getting irrationally excited about how quickly he might race to the big leagues, since it’s not like the 2019 MLB club is offering much in the way of excitement.

With the Rutschman signing, the Orioles have agreed to terms with 30 of their 41 draft picks so far. Henderson signing soon after Rutschman would make 31.