PITTSBURGH -- Less than 24 hours after allocating a Major League Baseball record $17 million in signing bonuses to players taken in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, owner Bob Nutting labeled the occasion a "tremendous day" for the organization.
Led by an $8 million signing bonus for No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole and a $5 million bonus for second-rounder Josh Bell, the Pirates continue to reaffirm their pledge to be among baseball's most aggressive clubs in the First-Year Player Draft. In the four years that the organization's current front office regime has been in place, the Pirates have spent approximately $47.7 million on the Draft.
That four-year figure is easily tops among all 30 clubs, and it doesn't include the increased resources also devoted to signing international players.
"What we've done is exactly what we said we're going to do -- we're going to take advantage of every single opportunity we can to return this team to championship quality," Nutting said. "We need to bring talent into the organization. There is no substitute for high-end talent."
Nutting would not comment on whether the Draft and Trade Deadline expenditures -- which total close to $22 million -- put the Pirates into deficit spending. He did note that the ability to allocate so much money to the Draft was not "directly dependent" on the increased revenue from an attendance boost at PNC Park this year.
The Pirates ended up signing 24 of 50 players the club drafted. Cole and Bell, though, are considered to be the jewels of the class, which is why the Pirates were willing to spend well over slot to secure both before Tuesday's 12:01 a.m. ET signing deadline.
"I believe we have two impact players that are going to be able to affect the Pittsburgh Pirates here at PNC Park," Nutting said. "I think you have at least two players out of this Draft that are going to be able to be impact Major League players."