There is a maximum limit on the aggregate amount of money that each club can pay as signing bonuses to players selected in a First-Year Player Draft (MLB Rule 4 Draft) before penalties begin to accrue.
Prior to the Rule 4 Draft, each MLB club is assigned a “Signing Bonus Pool” (SBP) equal to the aggregate pre-assigned bonus value of all of the club’s draft slots in the first ten rounds (including supplemental & compensatory draft picks). The higher the slot, the higher the bonus value. (The collective MLB SBP is determined in advance by calculating industry revenues).
The Cubs 2015 Rule 4 Draft SBP is $7,236,100.
If a club fails to sign a player selected in the first ten rounds (including supplemental draft picks), the value of that slot is deducted from the club’s SBP. There is no bonus value assigned to draft slots after the 10th round, but if a club pays a signing bonus in excess of $100,000 to a player selected in the 11th round or later or to a player eligible for selection who was not drafted, the amount of that bonus in excess of $100,000 is deducted from the club’s SBP.
If a club exceeds its SBP in a given Rule 4 Draft, a tax will be assessed and future Rule 4 Draft picks could be forfeited, depending on how much the club exceeded its SBP. (The club’s 1st Round draft pick in the next Rule 4 Draft is forfeited if the club exceeds its SBP by 5-10%, its 1st & 2nd round draft picks in the next Rule 4 Draft are forfeited if the club exceeds its SBP by 10-15%, and the club’s 1st Round picks in the next two Rule 4 Drafts are forfeited if the club exceeds its SBP by more than 15%).
Money collected from the tax on clubs that exceed their SBP will be distributed to qualifying clubs as Revenue Sharing funds, and forfeited draft picks will be reassigned by lottery. (Any club that exceeds its SBP is excluded from the lottery).