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Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Cubs Continue Spending Spree: Record Bonus Given to 11th Rounder

Baseball America's John Manuel reports this week that the Chicago Cubs just gave their 11th Round draft pick Chris Huseby a $1.3 million bonus (first round money), which is the highest bonus ever paid to an eleventh rounder by $750,000 ("Cubs Give 11th-Rounder Huseby Record Bonus"). Huseby is a 6'7" right-handed pitcher out of Martin County High in Stuart, Florida. The Cubs also reportedly gave their 14th rounder, a prep outfielder from Oregon, a signing bonus in the amount of $500,000 (third round money). Recently, I discussed the contract the Cubs just gave to their fifth rounder, two-sport Notre Dame star Jeff Samardzija, who is guaranteed $7.25 million if he makes baseball his primary sport sometime over the next five years.

I have been following the MLB draft each year since I signed my first minor league contract back in 1989, and I can't remember this type of free spending on amateur players since 1996 when Scott Boras had a couple of his draft picks designated as free agents by exploiting a loophole in the Major League Rules regarding the tendering of contracts. I'm not one that questions teams' decisions when it comes to scouting and draft picks because that's their business and that's what they know best, but Huseby's signing is even more intriguing than the Samardzija signing because Huseby had Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2005 and only pitched a total of 5 innings in 4 appearances all spring in 2006! How could the Cubs possibly be that confident about Huseby's projectability having seen him throw only a few innings this past spring and coming off Tommy John surgery last year? Furthermore, in those few one inning appearances, it is reported that he threw in the 90-93 mph range, which is not considered to be "lighting up the radar gun" by any means. I'm just a law professor, but doesn't the fact that he has only thrown 5 innings all spring tend to suggest that maybe he's still not healthy and that maybe he has trouble consistently maintaining that velocity?

According to Manuel: "Huseby's family said it would take first-round money for the righty to bypass college, and the Cubs had enough of a track record on Huseby (including crosschecking him this spring) to feel comfortable rolling the dice." I guess I could understand rolling the dice for maybe $100,000, but for $1.3 million? And it's only the first week of July! Even if the Cubs really want to sign him, they still have plenty of time left before he starts college in the fall in which to negotiate a lower signing bonus figure. Just because the family said it would take first-round money to sign him, doesn't mean they would not have ultimately settled for much less. It's interesting to note that Huseby and Samardzija have the same agent (oops, sorry, I mean "advisor"), who apparently is a long-time friend of Cubs GM Jim Hendry.


It's interesting how a personal relationship between a GM and an agent can have what appears to be a dramatic influence on the earning capacity of the agent's clients. I imagine that phenomenon makes it even harder for new, unknown sports agents to break into the industry, unless perhaps they used to work in a front office or were players themselves.

Blogger Michael McCann -- 7/05/2006 11:54 AM  

These personal relationships are worrisome, indeed. I was thinking the other day about the All-Star Managers that get to pick the players to fill the last few roster spots. Would a manager be more apt to choose a player that he shares an agent with (All-Star game appearance=bargaining chip).

And the example you've cited in this post is definitely worth looking into.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/05/2006 12:41 PM  

I could see such a relationship as serving a possible advantage as it relates only to a club feeling more "comfortable" with a particular agent in terms of a trust factor or in terms of believing that the negotiations will be conducted properly and reasonable. But the relationship between an agent and front office personnel should not have any influence whatsoever on the amount the club is willing to spend (i.e. the earning capacity of the agent's clients). If that's the case, now you're talking about a conflict of interest in which the front office personnel is not serving the best interest of the club. I wonder what Jim Hendry's boss thinks about these two signings?

Blogger Rick Karcher -- 7/05/2006 4:47 PM  

Jeff Samardzija broke two bats in an eight-pitch inning against the A's on Saturday.
With his fastball reportedly averaging 97 mph, Samardzija retired all three batters he faced and broke the bats of Mark Ellis and Travis Buck. The right-hander is expected to begin this season at low Single-A Peoria.
Source: Arlington Heights Daily Herald

Anonymous Anonymous -- 3/05/2007 12:18 AM  

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