Padres sign Wilcox; bonus sets record (source)

Georgia righty earns richest bonus for third-rounder

June 30th, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- The final piece of A.J. Preller’s 2020 MLB Draft puzzle fell squarely into place on Tuesday.

The Padres and right-hander Cole Wilcox have agreed to a record third-round signing bonus of $3.3 million, according to MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis. San Diego, which did not officially announce the value of the deal, has now signed all six of its 2020 Draft picks.

A hard-throwing right-hander from the University of Georgia, Wilcox is also expected to be added to the Padres’ 2020 player pool, according to a source. That means he’s among the group of players eligible to play for San Diego in 2020, though his presence in the pool is mostly for development purposes.

The Padres followed a familiar pattern in drafting Wilcox and pursuing his signature. He was widely believed to be a first-round talent, with a high-octane fastball and two excellent offspeed weapons -- a changeup and a slider. But with concerns about whether he'd sign, Wilcox fell to No. 80 overall.

Preller swooped. For the second year in a row, the Padres general manager had devised a plan to save money elsewhere and make a big splash in the third round. In 2019, the Padres signed outfielder Hudson Head, the No. 84 overall pick, to a then-record $3 million bonus for a third-rounder. That number has been topped only by Wilcox.

The Padres signed each of their five other picks from the 2020 Draft below the suggested slot value, clearing enough money for Wilcox's record bonus. They still had to exceed their bonus pool to sign him, but they did so by less than 5%, meaning they won't lose any Draft picks and must only pay a 75% tax on the overage.

Wilcox will join a loaded group of Padres prospects in the team's 2020 player pool. A handful of those prospects, including Wilcox, don't have a realistic chance at cracking the big league roster. That group will spend Summer Camp working out at the team's alternate training site at the University of San Diego alongside the team’s Minor League staff.