Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Nats 2022 Draft class Signing Bonus Analysis


In my 2022 draft class review, I went through a rough guess as to how I thought the bonus calculations would go, and how many of our 20 picks would sign.

Lets see how my predictions went, now that we’ve gotten all the bonus figures publicized for our 19 draftees.

For a complete list of the 2022 draft classes, see the Draft Tracker and specifically the “2022 Draft Class” tab. For “proof” of bonus amounts see the MLBpipeline draft tracker or the BaseballAmerica draft tracker, which as of this publishing have all 19 of our signed players’ bonus amounts.

Overall Bonus Machinations

The Nationals had a total bonus pool of $11,013,900 (which was oddly raised by a few thousand dollars just days before the draft, so all my initial numbers were off in the draft tracker). Add 5% overage of $550,695 and their real working bonus pool was exactly $11,564,595.

  • Their top 10 picks totaled exactly 11,388,200 in bonus money
  • Which left them exactly $176,395 in “extra” dollars they could throw at picks in the 11-20 range, over and above the $125k standard bonus.
  • They gave $125k extra to Young, then $50k extra to Peoples.
  • So, at the end of the day, they left exactly $1,395 of bonus dollars on the table. At least per my xls. Its possible someone got an “extra” $1,395 but probably not.

That’s using your bonus pool to its max effect!

Overall Draft Class Signing success

Prediction: I predicted 17 or 18 of the top 20 signing, thinking we’d struggle to sign #11 Young and would not sign two of the prep players in the 11-20 range.

Actuals: we did sign Young, and prep player Cooper, and thus got 19 of our 20 picks to sign. Only our 20th pick, a great fielding Prep SS in Ortiz from IMG Academy who the scouting reports all said would benefit from going to college anyway. So, my prediction was a bit more pessimistic than what occurred.

Pick by Pick Slot analysis, top 10

Here’s my predictions for the first 10 spots:

  1. Green: Over slot ($200k)
  2. Bennett: Under slot (-$100k)
  3. Lipscomb: Under slot (-$200k)
  4. Cox: Over slot? (+$100k)
  5. McKenzie: Slot
  6. Ochoa: Over slot (+$200k)
  7. Cornelio: Under slot (-$50k)
  8. Huff: Under slot (-$75k)
  9. Romero: Slot
  10. Stehly: Under slot (-$75k)


  1. Green: Basically Slot ($2,300 over slot for an even $6.5M figure). This was a shock to most of us, who were convinced that the Nats (who have a history of overpaying top draft picks even in the face of conventional leverage wisdom) would over-pay here. Nope: they basically got Green at slot value, a big achievement for a prep player in the modern game.
  2. Bennett: Exactly Slot. I thought he’d get a take a bit of a haircut, but did not.
  3. Lipscomb: Exactly Slot. Again, a surprise here. This is a senior with no leverage, and I read somewhere (can’t find the source) that this represented the largest bonus ever given to a college senior. I’m not sure that’s right; Mark Appel was the #1 overall pick as a senior and signed for more than $6M. So, I’d need a fact check on the claim here.
  4. Cox: Definitely over slot; an even $1M to represent more than $450k over slot.
  5. McKenzie: Predicted slot, went for slot.
  6. Ochoa: went over slot, but not by as much as I thought it would take. He signs for just $66k over the slot value.
  7. Cornelio: Slot: for some reason I thought he’d go slightly under slot, perhaps due to performance.
  8. Huff: Slot; same reasoning as Cornelio.
  9. Romero: Predicted slot, went slot.
  10. Stehly: Predicted under-slot … and signed for the bare minimum of $10k, saving $144k in the bonus pool.

So, I went 5 and 5 for slot predictions in the top 10. And at the end of the 10 rounds, the team had right around $175K “extra” to throw at their round 11-20 guys.

Pick by Pick Slot analysis, rounds 11-20

Here’s what I thought would happen from a bonus perspective for the 11-20th rounders

  • 11. Young: tough sign, needs over slot money
  • 12. Peoples; signs, but needs over slot money
  • 13. Grissom: signs for slot
  • 14. Lawson: signs, may not even need full slot
  • 15. Luckham: signs, probably for a nominal amount below slot
  • 16. Cooper: would not sign, would need over slot
  • 17. Klassen: signs, might not need full $125k slot
  • 18. Lord: signs, might not need full $125k slot
  • 19. Thomas: signs, probably not full $125 slot
  • 20. Ortiz: no way he signs; we don’t have enough money


11. Young signs, for $250 or $125k over slot and in line with a 6th-7th rounder. I thought perhaps the team would net themselves around $500k extra from their top 10 machinations and be able to throw bigger money at Young. In the end, it didn’t take nearly as much money to buy him out of an Oklahoma State commitment.

12. Peoples: signs for $175k, or $50k over the slot. We thought he’d sign since he wasn’t really rated highly as a prep player and wasn’t committed to a big-time baseball school, and in the end it only took $50k to entice him to go pro. $175k pays him like an 8th-9th rounder.

13. Grissom signs for $125k, which slightly surprised me given that he had eligibility left.

14. Lawson signs and gets full $125k slot as a fourth year junior. Good for him; he did have a bit of leverage so he could demand more than a token dollar amount typically given to true seniors.

15. Luckham signs for $125k. Not bad for a senior.

16. Cooper signs for $125k, as a prep kid with a college commitment, and it doesn’t take any overages to get him. Which is odds, and makes me wonder if the videos we saw of him bely his true talent level. This is a tools-first pick, and he may be in the FCL for quite some time.

17. Klassen signs for $125k. College Junior bat, could have gone back to school, but takes the cash.

18. Lord signs for $125k. Nothing to note here; as with Luckham, Klassen, Thomas … all these guys got offered the max non-bonus pool affecting amount and took it.

19. Thomas signs for $125k, as with Luckham not bad for a senior from a small school.

20. Ortiz does not sign. No surprise here, he was heavily scouted due to his presence at IMG, has the defensive side down pat but needs time to develop a hit tool, and going to FIU gives him three years to develop and try to raise his draft stock.

So, that’s how the bonus figures worked. Its time to get these players to Florida and get them playing!

Written by Todd Boss

July 28th, 2022 at 1:38 pm

Posted in Draft

28 Responses to 'Nats 2022 Draft class Signing Bonus Analysis'

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  1. There’s no doubt that Bennett had an outstanding NCAA tournament. But so did Tyler Dyson as a freshman. The tournament isn’t everything. All in all, I would have much rather had Tidwell or Priellip with that pick. Priellip signed for $100K more than Bennett, and Tidwell for $120K more. The Nats could have found that money. They could have found it by not quite paying Lipscomb slot, which will always remain head-scratching to me. (But at least he’s a quality player, unlike when they gave slot to Nick Raquet in the 3d round.) Heck, they went $125K over slot to sign LUKE YOUNG, when that amount would have given them Preillip or Tidwell. Maybe Bennett turns out to be better. But that’s a questionable one in my opinion.

    They’re out on a limb on Cox, who wasn’t on many top-200 lists. Really, I don’t mind that as long as they’re not making questionable choices in other areas just to come up with the money. McKenzie struggled this season and didn’t deserve full slot. Ochoa had gone to the draft league instead of college so didn’t have a lot of bargaining power.

    And if you’re Murphy Stehly, and you find out that everyone else in your draft class signed for at least $125K while you only got $10K, wouldn’t you be pissed?

    I’m not too surprised that they were able to sign the ones in 11-20; they knew the asking prices. I don’t think they missed out on too much with Ortiz. If you played at IMG and could only get a scholarship to FIU, you’re not a stud.


    28 Jul 22 at 3:49 pm

  2. Great stuff, Todd. I love the machinations over who we can sign, etc. To paraphrase the great philosopher “19 out of 20 ain’t bad”.

    Mark L

    28 Jul 22 at 8:41 pm

  3. Coming back to a prior topic: The nats now have (by the big board count) 36 players in XST. 19 newly signed draftees, another 9 NDFAs. Leaving aside the guys who have been in XST for a bit … orgs can only have 180 players “active” at any one time. 26 in the majors, 28 in AAA, 28 in AA, 30 in the two a-ball leagues. that’s 142. That leaves 38 for the FCL roster to get to 180.

    by my count (and this is the big board accounting, which is not always entirely accurate since the team makes moves that sometimes don’t get to …
    – MLB = 26
    – AAA = 34 (no i have no idea how they have 34 active but if you don’t believe me go look at their roster here:
    – AA = 28 exactly
    – high-A: 29
    – low-A: 30, including the first 2022 draftee/signee to be assigned in Zion Pettigrew.
    – FCL: 37

    That totals to 184. We just added 28 new players … so to get to 180 we’re looking at releasing, trading, or DL-ing 32 players right now domestically. wow.

    Todd Boss

    29 Jul 22 at 8:45 am

  4. Plus at least six undrafted free agents, including Pettigrew.

    I don’t understand why it is taking draftees so long to show up with the minor-league clubs, though. They used to start playing almost immediately. It seems to be taking longer these last couple of years, even though the time frame left in the season for them to play is shorter.


    29 Jul 22 at 11:20 am

  5. My take on why the players take longer is simple: thanks to moving the draft back from early June to mid July (so as to make it be a part of the all star weekend and give the owners the opportunity to make it more marketable), the teams acknowledge that this draft year is basically a wash for players. HS players ended their seasons in mid May usually, so they’ve been sitting for 2 months. College players aren’t much better; the regular season ends in mid-May with confernece toureys going through the end of May. So many of them have now been sitting for 6 weeks before getting picked. Then another 2 weeks for negotiations and here we are, end of July .. the FCL ends on August 22nd. So … they’ve been sitting for so long, need weeks to get back up to speed … so they can, what, run to the FCL to play one or two games?

    Its a lost season. So who cares when they show up. They’re just going to play in complex games.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jul 22 at 11:15 am

  6. Well, not all . . . I happened to notice that one of my draft crushes, Sonny DiChiara, has not only signed but has been sent to start at AA. He signed for $172K in a $383K slot. Seven picks earlier, the Nat took a toolsy but struggling college OF, Jared McKenzie. The Nats gave him full slot, $410K. I seriously doubt he’ll even start at A+. (And yes, DiChiara was a senior and McKenzie was a junior. But the Nats gave their big-bopping senior, Trey Lipscomb, full slot.)

    All in all, this seemed like yet another he-looks-great-in-a-uniform, we’re-smarter-than-you draft from the same crew that has hardly hit on any picks in a decade. I’ll root for all of our guys, and I do have hopes for some (I like the Lipscomb pick, despite the overpay), but I don’t see much reformed thinking from the front office that has dug the system into such a deep hole.


    31 Jul 22 at 12:56 pm

  7. Meanwhile, the Soto ransom game continues. I gave up a while ago looking at prospects for eight-plus teams. Too depressing. I think he’ll be traded, and should be traded for optimal return, but it’s still going to be a lottery game hoping that all the prospects develop well enough to breathe life into the franchise.

    I’m not expecting much in return for Bell. If they get one particularly promising prospect for him, I’ll be pleased.


    31 Jul 22 at 1:08 pm

  8. Just quickly skimming the prospects of the Cards, Pads, and Dodgers at lunch. I can’t help it. Among the three teams, I only see one player who really star-level impresses me: Jordan Walker of the Cards. I can’t see the 60 FV in C. J. Abrams’s stats. He seems more hype than actual performance. I keep thinking that the Dodgers are going to swoop in and take the Soto derby, as they did last summer, but I don’t see much in their prospect mix that excites me. There’s some talk of the Dodgers including Lux and May, two more or less proven MLB players, but I don’t see too much among the rest.


    1 Aug 22 at 1:58 pm

  9. Well, we are coming right down to it.

    @KW, I need Walker in any deal with St. Louis, but I also really really like Masyn Winn, who has an absolute cannon and has turned into a significantly better hitter than some expected (BA was notably low on him heading into the season). I’m somewhat wary of Abrams as well, but I do think he settles in as an average to above-average shortstop with some upside, and Robert Hassell and James Wood are very good prospects in the San Diego system too. I’m not that excited about what the Dodgers have to offer, but they do seem to have a knack for turning prospects with fairly uninteresting profiles/pedigrees into stars somehow.


    1 Aug 22 at 11:27 pm

  10. We’re definitely coming right down to it, and not just with Soto. I think we all thought that a third of the roster would be traded. Well, we’re 11 hours from the deadline, and NO ONE has been traded. Sorta leads me to believe that Rizzo has been so obsessed with the Soto situation. In the situation that they’re in, it’s GM malpractice not to move the expiring contracts, even if all you get for each guy other than Bell is the #20 prospect from our team. (Some have T.J. White down around #20 for the Nats, so you never know what kind of lottery ticket you might get.) If Soto is traded, they really should be bringing 12-15 new players into the system today, which would be an amazing infusion.

    Sao, I’m pretty much with you in the trade return expectations. Walker + Winn as the starting point with the Cards, and the Pads and Dodgers both having to come up with some extra quantity to compensate for that quality. I know that Fangraphs has both Walker and Abrams rated with a 60 FV, but c’mon, the only way Abrams gets to that level is if he really is Kenny Lofton, which is unlikely. Walker may not become a 40-HR guy, but I’d take his 30 homers a year over Abrams’s 30 SBs a year any day.

    I’m uneasy about accepting quantity over high quality, too. As we know all too well, so many just don’t pan out.

    Anyway, it should be an interesting day. There really hasn’t been a player like Soto, plus with so much remaining control, traded in a long, long time. And he literally could swing a pennant race and potentially a WS. And don’t kid yourself, STL and SD are in razor-thin pursuit of a wild card. Soto could absolutely determine which one makes the playoffs. Except when he actually ends up with the Dodgers, of course . . .


    2 Aug 22 at 7:17 am

  11. I really don’t like prospect trades with the Dodgers where Cartaya is the highest-valued piece. He A) plays one of the few positions the Nats already have filled, and B) is only at the A+ level. Neither of those things helps the Nats at all for the next 2-3 seasons. So the highest-valued piece would be of limited actual value/help.

    I have mentioned before that maybe Cartaya could go to a third party in a trade, but three-team trades are pretty challenging to execute at the deadline.


    2 Aug 22 at 9:33 am

  12. If the breaking news is correct, the return seems light, all the more with Bell included. Also, several of the key prospects are at least two years from the majors. It’s still gonna be a long next three years or so, unless the get serious in the free agent market.

    Of course the Padres had a “done deal” for Scherzer last year and that news took a sideways turn at beyond the last minute!


    2 Aug 22 at 11:58 am

  13. KW, you make an important point about timing… You’ll recall last year, the emphasis in trades was about “major-league ready talent” because the plan was to “retool” around Juan Soto. By trading Soto now, not only have you lost the best player in baseball, you’ve retroactively screwed up last year’s trade deadline moves because guys like Gray and Ruiz will be at or near free agency when the Padres influx is major league ready. So rather than aiming towards a new “window” of contention, this just feels like a rudderless team with no plan and no direction.

    I’ve defended Rizzo for a long time, but this all has been seriously mishandled and the new owners should absolutely make a change.


    2 Aug 22 at 12:31 pm

  14. I’m still digesting. I’m sure Todd will do a trade post, and our friend Sao has spent a lot more time looking at these prospects than I have. The Nats did get a lot of (possibly) high-end talent in return.

    This is probably the best that Rizzo could get, particularly if the Cards wouldn’t include Walker. But several of the Cardinals were closer to the majors than these guys are.

    So yes, there’s a big timing gap. Abrams, Ruiz, Garcia, Gray, and Gore are ready now, and Cavalli and Henry are close. But then you’ve got two to three years before there’s really anyone else on the horizon, so matter how highly touted they are.

    There also seems to be an issue that neither Garcia nor Abrams really should play shortstop. Armando Cruz is looking more like a prospect, but he’s five levels from the majors.


    2 Aug 22 at 1:42 pm

  15. I can’t contribute any useful knowledge about the Padres’ prospects. It seems like a good haul, though I would have much preferred keeping Soto. The thought of having to watch Hosmer pound 105 MPH balls into the ground four-five times a night was too much for my soul to bear at the same time as losing Soto, so I’m glad he’s not part of the deal any more.

    Q: will there be a year in the next five years when the cumulative total of these prospects’ MLB WAR exceeds Soto’s? I think probably yes but am very uncertain.


    2 Aug 22 at 1:48 pm

  16. Derek, that’s a good question, and I’ll complicate it even more by noting that this trade will probably lead to others down the road before we really have some semblance of an answer. With Hassell and Wood coming to join Green, Vaquero, de la Rosa, Lile, White, and Quintana as higher-ceiling OF prospects, that’s now some deep prospect capital from which to deal.

    And I think that will have to be a part of the rebuild: continuing to deal.

    Meanwhile, let’s have a moment of silence for Antuna now being fully dropped from any top 10 list of Nat prospects.


    2 Aug 22 at 2:09 pm

  17. I’ll do a response post. But my initial take is that this is a really solid prospect deal for us.

    Todd Boss

    2 Aug 22 at 2:32 pm

  18. I’m seeing that Abrams should have six more years of team control, five more for Gore, Ruiz, Gray, and Garcia. It will be at least six years for Cavalli and Henry (I see NO reason for them to burn service time this year). So the overlap window is going to be in two or three years, provided the young talent develops.


    2 Aug 22 at 3:15 pm

  19. Wow, the more i look at this, the more i’m impressed with our prospect haul. Admittedly, i did not follow San diego’s specific names as closely as others … but to put this in perspective:
    – Gore: was #2 overall prospect in the sport before graduating. 1st rounder, #3 overall pick
    – Abrams was in the top 3-5 prospect before graduation. 1st rounder, #6 overall pick
    – Hassell is #21 in the minors right now per mlbpipeline, 1st rounder 8th overall pick
    – Wood is top 100 prospect, 2nd roudner a year ago
    – Susana was a 1.7M IFA earlier this year, rated as the top arm in teh class
    and we’re getting a 6th player.

    guys … that’s an incredible haul. That’s two as good as they get prospects (Gore, Abrams), two top 100 prospects in Hassel, Wood, and a top IFA.

    Todd Boss

    2 Aug 22 at 3:19 pm

  20. Not surprisingly , after looking at the prospect return, Keith Law called it an “exorbitant return.”

    His quote: “I’m not sure who could have topped this package, which, if you’re talking reasonable expectations, includes a potential No. 1 or No. 2 starter, three position players with legitimate All-Star upside, and an 18-year-old starter who also has No. 1 or No. 2 upside but is much farther from the majors.”

    Todd Boss

    2 Aug 22 at 3:20 pm

  21. Derek, Szymborski at Fangraphs is already projecting out your thought — will these guys equal Soto in WAR? He has Gore, Abrams, and Hassell doing it by themselves by 2025:

    That seems ambitious, but we’ll see. I agree that it’s a nice haul. My concern is that so many of these guys are so far from the majors, so there’s higher risk involved.


    2 Aug 22 at 3:29 pm

  22. On the downside, Gore is a TJ risk (keep him shut down the rest of the year), and Abrams is a Robles risk who also may not be able to stick at SS. Is he Kenny Lofton, or Dee Gordon? Gordon became a lot less valuable when he couldn’t stick at SS for the Dodgers.


    2 Aug 22 at 3:44 pm

  23. Wood is a physical monster, though, as is Susana, who I think was the highest-priced international pitching signee in his class. Remains to be seen whether Hassell can develop 20-HR power or it more a gap-power guy.


    2 Aug 22 at 3:47 pm

  24. Yes, these prospects have Risk.


    None of the comps to our own players were EVER anywhere close to the industry-wide top level prospects these guys were consdered. A top 5 prospect is a serious prospect.

    Todd Boss

    2 Aug 22 at 3:47 pm

  25. Robles was top-5, and his game was a lot like Abrams’s. Abrams also has head-scratchingy low SBs for a guy with 80 speed. Hoping for the best, but like Robles, all of his tools have to click for him to have value. He doesn’t have the power tool to override some other deficiencies.

    Gore more polished/developed at this point than Cavalli. They just have to let him get healthy. Four good potential starters in Gore, Cavalli, Henry, and Gray.


    2 Aug 22 at 3:55 pm

  26. Someone on NatsTalk shared a photo that IMG tweeted of Wood and Green when they were IMG teammates, and Wood dwarfs the 6’4″ Green, LOL.

    Speaking of Green, Druw Jones is having surgery for labrum tear, so that draft might have gone differently if that had been a thing a month ago.


    2 Aug 22 at 4:00 pm

  27. new posted, now that they’ve finalized the players coming back.

    Todd Boss

    2 Aug 22 at 4:07 pm

  28. I don’t think looking at collective WAR is a reasonable way to look at this — that’s no different than saying 5 guys who average 7 points a game are better than Michael Jordan. At least two of these guys have to reach AS potential (4-5 WAR) for this to be a good deal.

    That said, I do agree this is a big haul. SD has a good farm system, and we got their best infield prospect, their best outfield prospect, their second-best outfield prospect, their best LH starter prospect and their best RH starter prospect. The people saying this is less than we gave up for Adam Eaton are crazy.


    2 Aug 22 at 4:49 pm

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