The Pittsburgh Pirates and right-hander Paul Skenes, the No. 1 pick in Major League Baseball's recent amateur draft, have reached an agreement on a record-setting contract, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis. Skenes will receive a $9.2 million signing bonus, per Callis. That's about half a million under the recommended slot value for the No. 1 selection, but it's still a large enough sum to shatter the previous record of $8.4 million set by Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson back in 2020.
- Paul Skenes, 2023, Pirates, $9.2 million
- Spencer Torkelson, 2020, Tigers, $8.42 million
- Jackson Holliday, 2022, Orioles, $8.19 million
- Druw Jones, 2022, Diamondbacks, $8.19 million
- Adley Rutschman, 2019, Orioles, $8.10 million
Skenes, Torkelson, Holliday and Rutschman were all No. 1 picks. Jones went second overall last year.
The Pirates selected Skenes by way of LSU based on his power arsenal (his fastball sat in the upper 90s and he complemented it with a swing-and-miss slider) and impressive performance against top-notch competition. (He struck out 48% of the batters he faced during SEC play.) In doing so, the Pirates passed over a number of high-quality position player prospects, including LSU outfielder Dylan Crews. He went No. 2 to the Washington Nationals and, along with Skenes, became the first teammates to ever go No. 1 and 2 in MLB draft history.
The Skenes signing comes amidst a youth movement in Pittsburgh. Over the past month-plus, the Pirates have promoted several recent first-round picks to the majors, including outfielder Henry Davis (the No. 1 pick in 2021), infielder Nick Gonzalez, and right-handed pitchers Quinn Priester and Carmen Mlodzinski. The Pirates also recently brought up catcher Endy Rodríguez and infielder Liover Peguero.