Only nine players taken in the first 10 rounds didn't strike deals. There were fewer deadline-day contracts Friday than in recent years after more players signed in the weeks after the draft was held from June 6-8.
"That was one of the goals, getting guys signed and getting them out there earlier," Major League Baseball Executive Vice-President Rob Manfred said. "It's obviously good for the clubs, because it allows the development process to start, but we think over the long haul it's good for the players because they get to the major leagues faster."
In the hours leading up to the deadline, the Chicago Cubs finalized a deal with No. 2 pick Kris Bryant ($6,708,400), Miami agreed with No. 6 selection Colin Moran ($3,516,500) and the New York Yankees completed a contract with No. 32 pick Aaron Judge ($1.8 million).
Five first-round picks signed on the final day last year, down from 22 in 2011, the last year before restraints on signing bonuses were put in place.
In addition to Bickford, the other picks who failed to sign among players in the first 10 rounds were left-hander Matt Krook (Miami with the 35th selection), shortstop Ben Deluzio (Miami, 80), left-hander Ben Wetzler (Philadelphia, 151), outfielder Jason Monda (Philadelphia, 181), right-hander Stephen Woods (Tampa Bay, 188), third baseman Dustin DeMuth (Minnesota, 230) and second baseman Ross Kivett (Cleveland, 291).
Bickford, who turned 18 on Wednesday, is a right-hander with a 97 mph fastball from Oaks Christian High School in California, and he appears set to attend Cal State Fullerton. His pick had a slot value of $2,921,400. The Blue Jays will get the No. 11 pick in next year's draft as compensation.
Teams are given bonus pools in the labour contract, which imposes penalties on clubs that exceed their threshold — the total of the slots for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds. A team that goes as much as 5 per cent above its threshold incurs the first level of penalty, a 75 per cent tax on the overage. Ten teams went above their thresholds last year, but none by more than 5 per cent. Going over means losing a first-round pick the next year.
Spending on amateur draft picks dropped 10 per cent last year, to $209.4 million from $233.6 million in 2011, but it was the second-highest total. Figures for this year will not be available until next week.
Bonuses for international players dropped 18 per cent, from $95.6 million to $78.7 million, in the first year of restrictions, which ended July 1. While players signed from the Dominican Republic increased by 23 to 432, Venezuelans dropped by 30 to 201.
The total each year has fluctuated, depending on which Cuban defectors were available.
"The international numbers are very difficult to compare year to year because of that," Manfred said.