Pirates sign No. 1 MLB Draft pick Henry Davis as catcher reportedly gets $6.5 million bonus


The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed Henry Davis, the No. 1 pick in Major League Baseball’s 2021 amateur draft, the team announced Sunday morning.

“As we started this searching process last summer, it was really important for us to find the best player,” GM Ben Cherington said during a press conference Sunday (video link). “We also wanted to find the right person to work together with, to help us building a winning team in Pittsburgh. “We feel very excited and honored and confident that we found that person in Henry Davis.”

Davis’ agreement will pay him a $6.5 million signing bonus, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. MLB’s slot value for the No. 1 pick spot was a little over $8.4 million. For some perspective, here are the signing bonuses for each No. 1 pick since MLB implemented the current slotting system following the 2011 season, per Baseball Reference.

Davis, a catcher from Louisville, ranked No. 4 on CBS Sports’ pre-draft top-50 list. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

Davis made the leap by hitting .370/.482/.663 this season with 15 home runs and seven more walks than strikeouts. The demand for two-way backstops always outpaces the supply, which is why Davis’ upside is intriguing. He combines a low whiff rate with a high average exit velocity at the plate, and he’s at least an adequate defender (with a strong arm) behind it. Some evaluators are concerned his strength-based swing won’t work as well against advanced pitching. Fair enough, but he’s the most accomplished collegiate bat in a class that doesn’t have many of them, and it’s hard to envision him slipping far beyond No. 5.

Davis was the fifth No. 1 pick in Pirates franchise history, joining Gerrit Cole (2011), Bryan Bullington (2002), Kris Benson (1996), and Jeff King (1986). He now officially joins a promising farm system that includes Oneil Cruz, Quinn Priester, Liover Peguero, and Nick Gonzalez, whom the Pirates selected seventh overall in last summer’s draft. 

The Pirates are expected to use the financial savings they reaped by taking Davis instead of Marcelo Mayer, Jack Leiter, and Jordan Lawlar to sign some of their other lofty picks, including lefty Anthony Solometo, outfielder Lonnie White Jr., and righty Bubba Chandler. That haul was enough for CBS Sports to deem the Pirates one of the draft’s winners. 


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