The Marlins followed their convictions in selecting right-hander Max Meyer with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, passing over Austin Martin and Asa Lacy, both of whom were regarded as “better” prospects by most industry experts. Finances were undeniably a factor in the decision, though not quite as much as I initially suspected. CEO Derek Jeter, director of amateur scouting DJ Svihlik and other organizational leaders have been effusive in their praise for the University of Minnesota star. Meyer’s talent and intangibles made him the perfect fit, they insisted. There wasn’t any doubt throughout the process that both sides would agree to terms, and on Wednesday, he officially became a Marlin.
Before making his first professional appearance—and with a decent chance that he doesn’t pitch in any official pro games in 2020—Meyer has already secured $6.7 million. That’s the largest draft signing bonus in Marlins history. That will prove to be a bargain if he becomes even a league-average starting pitcher, but it’s a substantial investment from the club, nonetheless.
With assistance from Baseball America’s database, let’s review which prior draftees have come close to getting those earnings directly out of school.
- OF JJ Bleday ($6.67 million, 2019)—Any financial advisor would argue that Bleday actually got a better deal than Meyer. All but $100,000 of the latter’s signing bonus has been deferred, a condition that was negotiated by MLB owners and the players’ union in March in response to COVID-19’s impact on the league. Bleday’s payday was slightly above his slot value as the No. 4 overall pick, whereas Meyer took a half-million dollars below slot.
- RHP Tyler Kolek ($6 million, 2014)—No need to pile on Kolek, who remains part of the Marlins organization for at least one more summer. His career Minor League Baseball stats speak for themselves:
- LHP Braxton Garrett ($4.15 million, 2016)—A delayed pro debut, Tommy John surgery and now a pandemic have limited Garrett to only 25 MiLB games in four-plus years. However, he still shows the potential to be a big league starter in the near future, which would validate the old regime’s investment in him.
- OF Connor Scott ($4.04 million, 2018)—Scott was omitted from the Marlins initial 60-man player pool. There is ample time for the 20-year-old to translate his intriguing tools into production, but it’ll be challenging for him to distinguish himself from the many other talented outfielders within this farm system.
- RHP Josh Beckett ($3.63 million, 1999)—Fifteen years before Kolek, the Fish rolled the dice on another prep right-hander from Texas with the No. 2 overall pick. Adjusting for inflation, their bonuses were comparable, too. That’s where the similarities end. Beckett pitched parts of 14 MLB seasons and had a leading role in two spectacular World Series runs.