A flurry of draft signings by the Kansas City Royals was announced on Wednesday. In all, they drafted 21 players in this year’s draft and 19 have signed. The draft started, of course, with prep catcher Blake Mitchell in the first round. He signed for around $1 million under slot value. Those savings allowed the Royals to fit in a lot of extra talent later in the draft that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to spend up for. You can find all of the Royals' draft signings here.
It became clear that the Royals were going to sign quite a few players for more than slot value later in the draft, headlined by players like Jared Dickey in the 11th round. He signed for $572,500 — $422,500 which counts against the Royals’ $12,313,500 total bonus pool. They also spent up on second-round prep pitcher, Blake Wolters. He signed for a whopping $848,400 over his slot value. In all, it was an impressive job by the Kansas City scouting team and front office to implement such a strategy and make it all pay off so masterfully.
That strategy became even more clear on Wednesday night when news of Hiro Wyatt broke from Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline. There were reports earlier this week that Wyatt had agreed to terms with the Royals for “full slot value” but the exact total was never released — until Wednesday night.
3rd-rder Hiro Wyatt signs w/@Royals for $1,497,500 (pick 75 value = $960k). Connecticut HS RHP, fastball to 97 mph, slider might be an even better pitch, some Josiah Gray comps. Southern California recruit. @MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/mZlp4m5WdW— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) July 20, 2023
The Royals didn’t just sign Wyatt for full slot value. Instead, they exceeded it by $537,500. That means the Royals spent a total of $12,859,700 in draft signings that count against their $12,313,500 bonus pool. Teams can spend up to 5% over their assigned draft pool but will have to pay a 75% tax on any amount over their allotment. If a team overspends by more than 5% then they are subject to lost draft picks in addition to the 75% tax.
In all, the Royals could have spent up to $12,929,175 and still fit under that 5% threshold. They came short of that mark by just $69,475. Of course, it’s possible they still spend a bit more on the two remaining unsigned picks. Prep outfielder Donovan LaSalle and prep shortstop Blake Wilson still remain unsigned. The Royals can sign those two players for up to $150,000 without counting against their draft pool, but it’s unlikely they do. Instead, they’ll likely honor their college commitments in an effort to be drafted much earlier next time around.
For the Royals, this is the second great example of finding value in under-slotting early picks in just three years. 2021 saw them go under slot with Frank Mozzicato in the first round and that allowed them to sign Ben Kudrna, Carter Jensen, Shane Panzini, and Luca Tresh later on. To a lesser extent last year, the Royals were able to find savings throughout the draft and use them to spend up on David Sandlin and Austin Charles in the later rounds.
It’s an impressive strategy that looks to have paid off once again for the Royals. It’s also a nice sign from ownership that they’re willing to spend up somewhere, even if it hasn’t meant a big free agent quite yet.