Florida catcher Mike Zunino signs for $4 million bonus | Mariners Notebook
Mike Zunino, a 22-year-old catcher from the University of Florida who was the Mariners' first-round draft pick, signed with the club Monday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
First-round draft pick Mike Zunino has signed with the Mariners for a reported $4 million bonus and is to be introduced to the Seattle media at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
The 22-year-old catcher from the University of Florida was recently named Baseball America's College Player of the Year. Zunino's bonus, first reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, is $1.2 million lower than the recommended slot for a No. 3 overall pick.
New draft rules, introduced with the latest collective bargaining agreement, limit the amount of total money teams can spend on picks from the first 10 rounds. The Mariners had gone over recommended slotting on some other picks and would have faced steep penalties — including the potential loss of future picks — had they gone much higher than what they gave Zunino.
The No. 1 overall pick, Carlos Correa, got $4.8 million from the Astros. No. 2 pick Byron Buxton received $6 million from the Twins.
Zunino has had a busy schedule with the recent College World Series. He recently won the Johnny Bench Award as the best college catcher and is a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award given to the best college player.
That award will be handed out this week in a ceremony televised on ESPN.
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said patience is still the operative word when it comes to evaluating his team's performance so far. Zduriencik said he's seen several "spurts" of encouraging performances from position players and starting pitchers alike, even if the total numbers haven't always been there.
"What we'd like to see in the second half is for that gap to close," he said. "For these guys to become more consistent. To understand, 'I'm a professional big leaguer, this is my job day in and day out,' and approach it that way. And I think they are starting to understand that."
Zduriencik lists the young bullpen arms of Tom Wilhelmsen, Charlie Furbush and others as success stories so far. As for position players, he points to Kyle Seager, Jesus Montero, John Jaso and Michael Saunders as young pieces the team can look forward to.
He added he's seen similar "spurts" of good performance by Hector Noesi and Erasmo Ramirez in the starting rotation. As for the struggles of Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak, he cautioned that both are still young and could turn things around the second half.
• Saunders took the field for workouts and is expected to play Tuesday night after missing several games with flu-like symptoms that first struck him on Friday.
• Manager Eric Wedge gave struggling first baseman Smoak and catcher Montero the night off so they could gather themselves. Ackley moved to first base while Munenori Kawasaki got a rare start at second.