I think it's the large pool that made them reluctant to exceed it by a little, i.e., one or two good but not great prospects wasn't worth not being able to sign 3-4 guys for a million for two years. As you get better, and your allotment goes down, it makes more sense to "bust the budget" and have one big signing year - but you have to prepare for that a year to two years in advance (some of these guys were "signed" when they were 14).
I don't think they expected the Padres and a couple others to come on that big, but they still got something like 5 of the top 50 or so.
And they've signed a lot of second tier guys.
As far as trading for allotments, how many trades were made? I only heard of one and it was a relatively small amount.
Which means either no one sees anyone worth signing or teams are starting to ask for real value to trade their allotments or both.
And it doesn't make sense to trade a couple real prospects who are 19-20 for allotments to sign a couple 16 year olds unless the latter are pretty close to sure things, and sure things in LA cost $3-5M or more.
How many over 23s have signed? You just can't assume we'd land one if there are only a handful unless you're willing to grossly overpay, with 30 teams, there are plenty of suitors and you don't know if there are under the table deals (as has been shown by a couple teams getting caught).
Unless you think Klentak is some dummy, paying $10M for Kendrick, the $17M QO for Hellickson which could be exercised if his market is soft (and looking for other expiring contracts) suggests he doesn't have spending constraints (at least to a significant level of spending). And if the opportunites were there, I'm sure our LA scouts could identify them. Klentak is rebuilding, he's been clear about it, so I find it hard to imagine money is the reason he hasn't made those LA signings.