Hunter Greene gets record signing bonus in last-minute deal with Reds

Hunter Greene, the 17-year-old with the 102 mph fastball who has already been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, waited until the last minute to sign his first professional contract, but that certainly didn’t hurt his bottom line.

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Greene, the No. 2 overall pick in last month’s MLB amateur draft, agreed to a record $7.23 million signing bonus to join the Cincinnati Reds. The deal was reported by Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer minutes after the 5 p.m. ET deadline for draft picks to sign their contracts.

If a deal hadn’t been reached — hey, it happens — Green would have turned to college ball and the Reds would have gotten another draft pick next year. Some Reds fans were sweating as the deadline hit, but the word soon trickled out that Greene had signed and relief hit. He’s hardly the first draft pick to wait until the last minute to sign.

Once the contract was confirmed, the new headline became just how much green Hunter would be getting. From The Cincinnati Enquirer:

That bonus beats the previous record of $7,005,000, given this year by the Tampa Bay Rays to No. 4 overall pick Brendan McKay, who fell to that spot because the Rays could guarantee such a payday. The bonus came in $36,000 above slot, which this year was $7,193,200. Greene is the only draftee taken in the top two picks in the history of the current draft system to sign for an above-slot bonus.

The Reds began the day with $42,400 of wiggle room to play with over the slot suggestion for the No. 2 pick. Any dollar spent beyond that – except for a $2,500 retention bonus that does not count toward the Reds’ bonus pool – would incur a 75 percent tax.

If the Reds had gone over their allotment by more than five percent – or by more than $682,920, which would have brought Greene’s bonus to almost $8 million – they would have had to pay more than $512,190 in taxes while also losing their first-round pick in 2018.

Hunter Greene is only the second high-school baseball player to make the cover of SI. (Sports Illustrated)

Greene now enters his pro career with sky-high expectations. A recent graduate of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, Greene has already been pegged as a “game-changing” face of MLB. He can play both ways, though the Reds figure to prefer him as a pitcher. He’s been called baseball’s LeBron James. And he seems keen on carrying the torch for young African-American baseball players.

It’s a lot to shoulder for a 17-year-old. But at least he won’t have to worry about his bank account.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!