Nationals not willing to exceed draft bonus pool limit

I messed up the other day. After the Nationals signed Stanford left-hander Brett Mooneyham, their third-round draft pick, I wrote about the Nationals’ strategy for signing first-round pick Lucas Giolito. My understanding was that the Nationals were willing to exceed their bonus pool up to the point of not forfeiting a draft pick: they would pay a fine but not lose a pick.

I learned today that was inaccurate: the Nationals, a person familiar with the team’s plans said, are not willing to pay any fine at all.

That changes the calculus for what they could offer Giolito, the 16th overall pick and one of the top talents in the draft.

If the Nationals exceed their roughly $4.4 million bonus pool by up to five percent – which would require a hefty 75-percent tax, but not cost them a draft pick – then they could offer Giolito $3,029,774, according to calculations by Baseball America. But without exceeding their cap, again according to Baseball America, the Nationals could offer $2,812,400.

The Nationals could free up additional money for Giolito by signing Florida State reliever Robert Benincasa, their seventh round pick, for less than his slot bonus of $145,000.

My error was a product of a misunderstanding, and totally my fault. I hope this sets the record straight.

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.

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