With the number one overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Paul Skenes from Louisiana State University. Skenes is a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher. He was projected number one overall pick even before the draft selection was made, so it is not surprising to see he lived up to the expectations set for him.
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On July 28, 2023, Skenes and the Pirates agreed to a record-breaking $9.2 million dollar signing bonus. Although Skenes's projected slot value was around $9.7 million, the Pirates had to be careful not to over sign their draftee. Skenes was ranked with Stephen Strasburg as one of the most outstanding pitching prospects in the history of the draft, so it is no surprise that he broke the previously set record of $780,000 more than the signing bonus between the Tigers and Spenser Torkelson.
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Coming in as the number two overall draft pick, Dylan Crews was drafted by the Washington Nationals. Crews was the teammate of Skenes, as mentioned earlier, at LSU, and for a while, he was the number one overall projected pick, but Skenes overtook him in the days leading up to the Draft.
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On Sunday, July 23, 2023, Crews signed his signing bonus with the Nationals. His signing bonus totaled around $9 million dollars, which was slightly higher than the projected slot value for the number two pick. Crews' total amount became the second-highest signing bonus in history following Skenes.
Now let's get into the history of signing bonuses prior to Skenes and Crews.
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As previously mentioned, Torkelson held the record of the highest signing bonus in the history of the draft. His draft bonus totaled a little over $8.4 million dollars. He was drafted first overall by the Detroit Tigers in the 2020 draft.
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Overall fourth highest signing bonus is Jackson Holliday. His signing bonus was worth more than $8.1 million dollars. He was the number one overall draft pick by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2022 draft.
Most of the holders for the highest draft signing bonuses were either number one overall or number two overall picks of their respective draft year. With the exception of two players being third overall, three being fourth overall, and three being fifth overall.
Now with that being said there are four players in the history of the draft that have received more money than what was agreed on by Skenes and the Pirates. This is due to the big league contracts that were prohibited for draftees when the bonus-pool system was instituted in 2012. The 2012 Draft was the first year that each organization had a monetary cap on their signing bonuses.
These four players are:
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Stephen Strasburg signed with the National in 2009 as the number one overall, and his contract was over $15.1 million dollars.
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When Mark Prior signed with the Chicago Cubs in 2001 as the number two overall pick he landed himself a contract that totaled around $10.5 million dollars.
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Bryce Harper signed with the Nationals in 2010. He was the number one overall pick of the 2010 draft class and landed a contract of $9.9 million dollars.
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Last, but certainly not least is Mark Teixeira. He signed with the Texas Rangers in 2001. He was the fifth overall pick and his contract was worth $9.5 million dollars.