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Pirates can’t offer Mark Appel more than $3.8 million without forfeiting a draft pick

Jul 5, 2012, 11:51 AM EDT

Mark Appel AP

If the rumors about Stanford right-hander Mark Appel turning down the Astros’ offer to pay him $6 million as the No. 1 overall pick last month were true–and really, even if they weren’t–agent Scott Boras better have some pretty big tricks up his sleeve.

Appel went from presumed No. 1 pick to falling all the way to the Pirates at No. 8, where the recommended slot value is $2.9 million. Pittsburgh can go beyond that amount, but not by anywhere near enough to make passing on $6 million pay off for Appel and Boras.

In fact, according to Baseball America‘s extensive draft database that incorporates all of the Pirates’ allotted money and previous signings they can now pay Appel a maximum of $3.837 million without being stripped of a draft pick next season. Carlos Correa, the player Houston ended up picking at No. 1, signed almost immediately for $4.8 million.

  1. js20011041 - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Who the hell came up with this new CBA, Charles Comiskey? Ebenezer Scrooge? The Grinch?

    You know, it’s already a wonder that the draft hasn’t been ruled illegal. But to artificially drive down the salaries of new players even more, and even to the detriment of the sport itself, is just being incredibly greedy.

    • CJ - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      Thanks for dropping in, Mr. Boras.

      • js20011041 - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        Set aside whether or not you think the players are being paid what you think they’re worth. The new caps on draft bonuses is going to push talent away from baseball. Do you think that’s a positive direction for baseball?

      • js20011041 - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        Also, they essentially eliminated one of the key ways for a small market club to build up organizaitonal talent. Before, the Pirates, Nationals, and Royals were able to take the money that would normally cost them to get a couple of middling starting pitchers and put it into acquiring future stars through the draft. They don’t have that option anymore. These teams don’t have the money to go out into the free agent market and spend $100 million on established stars. Make no mistake, this is an absolutely terrible thing for baseball.

      • CJ - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:25 PM

        that will push talent away from baseball…to where exactly?

        Can’t go pro in the NFL till your ~21.

        Can’t go pro in the NBA until your ~19, the draft is much smaller. Haven’t checked the numbers, but maybe the top 10 picks get paid better in the NBA, but that’s a not driving anyone way from baseball.

        You’re crazy if you’re talking about hockey or soccer.

        Fact is, IF you have the athletic ability to excel at multiple sports and you’re able to choose, if you want to get paid a king’s ransom on potential alone, you’re going to go the baseball route, you get paid sooner and you get a greater chance of getting paid more. How many of the players picked in the top 20 this year will be all-stars this decade? Maybe 2 if it turns out to be a great draft? Yet they’re making millions for playing well with much more watered down competition and metal bats. And changing that is bad for baseball. Yeah, ok.

        Your second point is much more sound, as this greatly reduces competitive balance in the MLB re: small market teams. You won’t get an argument from me there.

      • js20011041 - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        CJ, if you don’t get paid what you want as a high school athlete, you go to college. College baseball doesn’t offer full scholarships. That means that many black kids that may have considered playing baseball are going to be pushed into either football or basketball. Also, if an athlete plays two sports in college, it can really have a negative impact on their baseball related development. The game is simply too difficult to not give it your entire focus.

      • CJ - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:08 PM

        this is why you take the $$$ out of HS, which is something no other high paying sport does in America. Just because Boras thinks he can’t get you more if you stay doesn’t make it a good idea. Baseball offers a high school athlete infinitely more than the other sports can. That’s the advantage. Just because it’s not as much as it used to be doesn’t make it bad for baseball. Pay the people that put up the numbers, it’s that simple. Were you crying foul when the NFL did the same thing in their CBA???

        If the NCAA doesn’t offer full scholarships for baseball athletes, that’s not an MLB problem, it’s an NCAA problem. Or on the other hand, if the NCAA is smart, they’ll see the opportunity to bring in higher caliber baseball athletes to their schools and give them the full rides they deserve, it increases the quality, depth, and competition, which in turn can increase revenue. In the real world, it’s called investing. That’ll lower the number of HS prospects signing out of the draft and get the MLB to consider changing the policy.

        But don’t act like the policy isn’t fair to the kids, it gives them a huge chance to cash in long before they realistically could in another sport. I think those differences from other sports easily cancel themselves out.

      • js20011041 - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:32 PM

        CJ, how is this “fair” to the kids? They’ve already rigged the game to keep the signing bonuses down. That is the sole intention of the draft. If there is a side benefit of competitive balance, they’ll take it, but make no mistake, it’s about saving money. Name any other profession in the country outside of professional sports in which someone entering the marketplace isn’t allowed to choose among competing offers for their services. And don’t give me any nonsense about how much these players make. Why is it wrong for the players to fight over millions of dollars, but it’s ok for billionaires to rig the system to keep the bonuses down? Let’s say there was no draft. How much money would Bryce Harper have made as a free agent? He signed for only $10 million. His worth on the open market would have been at least five times that.

        Also, the difference between baseball and football/basketball is the minor league system and the amount of development needed. If football and basketball, you go right from college to the NFL/NBA and are making significantly more money than you would be as a minor leaguer.

      • CJ - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:17 PM

        No the difference between MLB and the NBA/NFL is that in the MLB players get paid quite well to develop their craft, while the NBA/NFL have to work for free so the NCAA can profit off of them.

        MLB pays players while they’re developing their craft. For the good ones, quite well. For any of them, far better than the NBA and NFL do. Just because it’s not quite as much doesn’t make it a severe injustice, they’re still doing just fine. Don’t give the millionaires v. billionaire thing either. That argument applies to all sports. I’m saying that off the 4 major sports, when it comes to fairness in compensating the kids, MLB has it righter than most. Perfect? Nope.

        ” Name any other profession in the country outside of professional sports in which someone entering the marketplace isn’t allowed to choose among competing offers for their services.” I’ll do that as soon as you name me another profession–athletic or otherwise–pays high school grads as well as MLB.

        I swear you have to be an agent if you talk like this.

      • lanflfan - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:21 PM

        If you have the talent to play baseball, you play baseball. If you have talent to play football or basketball, you have options. Other sports are in the process of limiting rookie salaries as well, and this is a theme that will not go away. I, for one, am very happy MLB has addressed this issue. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start.

        Only agents, greedy kids and fans of overspending teams are sad about this.

      • js20011041 - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:54 PM

        CJ, that’s a statment that all Americans should sympathize with. If baseball were a free market, there would be no draft. The high school and college grads would be free to sign with the highest bidder. Take the money out of it. Whether they’re making millions or they’re making minimum wage is irrelevant. They should be free to make what the market would pay them. Your point about high school grads is irrelevant as well. There is no connection between education and the ability to play baseball. If there was, teams wouldn’t be drafting and signing high school kids, let alone 16 year olds out of Latin America.

        Lanflfan, you’re an idiot and I have no time for you. Go troll somewhere else.

    • vanmorrissey - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      Who the hell came up with it? Well, both sides signed off on it so get over it, its done already, deal with it.

      • Kyle - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:01 PM

        Amateur players had zero representation in those negotiations. The current players sold out the future players in order to reap benefits for themselves. It’s not that difficult to understand.

      • js20011041 - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:08 PM

        Exactly right Kyle. The players union didn’t have a dog in that fight. They’re already in the big leagues, so what do they care how much the draftees get? The owners knew this and very much to their and the game’s long term detriment, took advantage of it to save relative pennies.

      • lanflfan - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:23 PM

        Why should an 18 y.o. kid with no pro record be paid silly sums of money while an established player who has “paid his dues” has to scratch and claw? The old system WAS unfair, this levels the field. If you want a pay day, go play the lottery. Else, EARN YOUR MONEY like the rest of us working slobs.

  2. drewsylvania - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    Slot penalties: ultimate proof that MLB doesn’t care about competitive balance.

    • Ben - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:08 PM

      Yeah, it really does hose small-market teams. But the CBA did get the earlier signing deadline right so players can’t get in an extra season of development.

      • Ben - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:28 PM

        Err CAN get in an extra season of development.

  3. ThisIsBaseball - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:10 PM


  4. redguy12588 - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    Thanks Bud for screwing over my Pirates.

    • windycity0301 - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:40 PM

      I agree the rules suck, however the Pirates knew the rules and his demands as did all the teams ahead of them that passed on Appel. I can’t blame them for taking a shot anyway. If he signs its a great move by the Pirates, if not he will have no leverage next year as a college senior.

      Apparently though, Boras is going to go kicking and screaming into this new draft structure.

      • napoleonblownapart6887 - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:21 PM

        I honestly don’t have an issue with the Pirates making this pick. He was #1 overall talent available at #8, and the funny thing is the Pirates have a decent amount of leverage.

        Appell doesn’t want to go back to school, because coming out next year he will have NO leverage no matter who signs him. In addition, if his stock isn’t at LEAST as high, there’s a good chance he drops to a lower pick in what many say will be a MUCH stronger class next year. Basically the Pirates can say to themselves – here’s 3.8mil but that’s all we’re giving you. If you don’t want that that’s fine, we’ll take the number 9 pick next year and you better pray you can land above 6 in a better class if you want more money….

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:44 PM

        if his stock isn’t at LEAST as high, there’s a good chance he drops to a lower pick in what many say will be a MUCH stronger class next year

        Most are saying that next year’s draft isn’t as strong. In today’s chat Klaw said:
        There’s actually a huge incentive to be the last unsigned elite guy in the draft this year. Any one of Appel, Almora, or Gausman would be the best guy in next year’s draft for me, at least right now. If one doesn’t sign, or is the last unsigned guy, his leverage is significant. But if all three should fail to sign, the strategy is a flop.

      • kemsworth - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:51 PM

        next years class is deeper and has more elite talent at the top. anyone who thinks different must gain their knowledge of sports from the drunk guy at the local watering hole. if appel doesn’t sign not only will the bucs get a better talent with next years #9 pick, appel would have to repeat this year just to get drafted somewhere between 10-15. not only will his slot value be less, the team that drafts him is not required to offer the full amount and the only thing he could do then would be to sign the offer or take his game to japan. if he dont sign more than likely his career will be ruined and it will be boras’ fault.

  5. nategearhart - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    I’d bet that they happily take anything over the recommended slot – and maybe they’d even take an offer at slot. They turned down the Astros’ offer because it was BELOW slot, which can be interpreted as underpaying and insulting.

  6. heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    The authorities telling the individual teams what they can and can’t make. Oh dear, Barackafication has siezed hold of baseball!

    • nategearhart - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:42 PM

      You must be some contortionist if you were able to stretch enough to make that connection.

    • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      And if you and anyone else thumbed down on this because you thought I was serious, then we all need our humor meters recalibrated.

      • madhatternalice - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:10 PM

        Oh, right. Because your sarcasm reads so well. Got it.

      • nategearhart - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:11 PM

        Apparently my OS doesn’t recognize your comedy font.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:37 PM

        Man, sour moods, check for the exclamation point, it’sn usually a subtle indicator someone might be joshing you a bit.

      • byjiminy - Jul 6, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        You’re so funny!

  7. darthicarus - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Just once I would like to see a player have to EARN an extremely obscene amount by playing in a professional game instead of feeling they deserve it because their agent is Scott Boras.

    • nategearhart - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:42 PM

      $2.9 million is a drop in the bucket of the money available to baseball teams. It’s not extremely obscene in the world of baseball. Should all college grads earn minimum wage while they are training at their new careers?

      • darthicarus - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        He should be happy to get $2.9 million, not signing because he feels he deserves almost double that amount is what I’m griping about.

      • nategearhart - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:53 PM

        I think he WILL be happy to sign for $2.9 million, because it’s the slot amount for his place in the draft. What the Astros offered him was UNDER slot for what the number one pick would be according to the league, which is an underpay and an insult.

    • paperlions - Jul 5, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      Just once I would like to see an owner have to earn the extremely obscene amount of money they rake in after extorting local governments to build stadiums/arenas and then charging $20 for parking $8 for beer, and $30+ for tickets.

      • darthicarus - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:43 PM

        I’m not saying the owners are off the hook for the $ they make or they $ they dish out…but I do believe the majority of all sports owners have earned the money they made to acquire said franchise whereas some of these athletes (like any HS baseball player) has excelled for a few years against talent nowhere near that of what is in professional sports yet they feel they deserve millions because of what they “might” do. I believe franchise owners have at least earned their fortune by putting in effort to acquire a large amount of money. (except for Richard DeVos, he’s made his fortune off pyramid schemes and for that he sucks)

    • kemsworth - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:55 PM

      with the new slotting there is now reason to be represented by any super agent let alone scott boras. any potential draftee can call up the teams prior to draft and let them know that he is willing to sign for his slotted amount. not sure of the commision the agent makes but i woould guess in the range of 20% of the contract and since there is no real negotiations the athlete can represent himself and increase his payday by keeping the agents cut.

  8. stairwayto7 - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    MacDonald, Tallison, Cole, Appel and Karsten starting 5 for the Bucs in 3 years!

    • paperlions - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:02 PM

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Appel doesn’t sign. Next year’s draft class is down, if he plays a year of indy ball, he has a great chance to be the top pick next year and to get $6-7M.

  9. okobojicat - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    I think the more interesting thing here is the game theory that the Pirates and Appel have walked in on. Boras wants the Pirates to evaluate losing the 2012 pick vs. losing the 2013 pick. But wait, there’s more!

    If you sign Appel
    2012 Pick
    Appel is very high regarded, possibly a #1
    Start development on front line starter a year sooner, when Bucs ready to compete
    May lose 2013 pick because gave Appel too much money

    If you let him walk
    2013 Pick
    Because the pirates are wining, their 2013 pick will be much lower down the pecking order
    they risk not signing him as well
    2013 pick would further delay development

    Does Appel want to go back to school? Do the Pirates want to take another risk on a starting pitcher?

  10. maynardstool - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    Wow really??? You can’t really be that dumb can you? He wouldn’t sign with Houston for 6 million because it was below slot value, yet he would sign with Pittsburg for half that on principle just because it’s above slot.

    Dude it has nothing to do with slot values or principles. It’s about he and Scott Boras’ over inflated egos. There’s a reason the unanimous #1 pick fell that far. He’s not Strasburg or Harper. He’s a pretty good pitcher who thinks he should be paid like an elite level one.

    • nategearhart - Jul 5, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      How do you know it has nothing to do with slot values or principles? All we know about the situation is that they turned down a below slot offer. That’s ALL we know. Now, I’m sure they had no idea they’d fall so far in the draft – it was a gamble. BUT there’s nothing greedy about expecting to be paid what the g.d. industry says you are worth.

      • windycity0301 - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:19 PM

        As the saying goes, you’re only worth what someone is willing to pay…

      • nategearhart - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:27 PM

        Sure, in a free market where every team can make an offer. It’s hard to apply that though, when only one team gets to offer a price.

      • themohel - Jul 5, 2012 at 3:31 PM

        No Nate – several teams could have picked him after the Astros. None wanted to make the offer because they thought it very unlikely that he would sign for the slotted amount (aka “what the g.d. industry says you are worth). He and Boros gambled and lost; now they have to decide if they’re going to roll the dice again.

  11. maynardstool - Jul 5, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    We’ll see, but IMO he cost himself 2 million at the very least by taking that stance. That’s a lot of money to pass on just because it’s below his slot.
    Maybe he just didn’t want

  12. lanflfan - Jul 5, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Poor Appel has to settle for a measly, embarrasing, paltry sum of $3.8 million instead of $6 million. Dude, if you don’t like it, quit baseball and get a real job. See how long it takes to make that $3.8 million, let alone $6 million. I’d sign that contract in a second, even if it is with the Pirates.

    I love MLB but the sense of entitlement from some kids and agents is utterly amazing.

  13. meyerwolf - Jul 5, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    What is it about professional sports that turns you Americans into hardcore socialists? I thought you guys liked the free market? Who cares what these kids make? Aren’t they supposed to make what someone is willing to offer them in a free market? Why is the free market good enough to regulate only like, oh I don’t know, all of society, but not baseball? If I graduate from Harvard with the highest honours, don’t you think I’d get a higher offer from a law firm than some schlub from a community college – even if I haven’t yet “proven” anything? Even if he could turn out to be a much better lawyer in the end? How’s that any different?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 5, 2012 at 7:48 PM

      The free market is a huge fallacy here in this country. Things are far more socialist than anyone would like to admit. But then again there are a lot of people in this country who hated the Supreme Court’s decision on the ACA and wanted to move to Canada so….

    • lfhlaw - Jul 6, 2012 at 1:55 PM

      The Law firm (as the employer) offers you the job of 40K and you take it or leave it. Most firms don’t negotiate your pay.

      The Baseball Team (employer) offers you the a paycheck, but with an agent he negotiates the price. that is the difference.

      The difference is in the contract itself though.
      1) If the Law Firm Fires you, you get a small severance pay, if you’ve worked long enough, if not you can try to claim unemployment and gov’t gives u some money for a period of time…maybe longer now.
      2) If the Baseball team fires you(drops you from the roster and you become a free agent) then the contract you signed is binding and you have Guaranteed Money. The player is still owed all the money in the contract even if he doesn’t play for the team. So a $9/3 yr contract — He’ll get $9M for sitting on his duff.
      perhaps they wouldn’t have had a draft cap if……there weren’t guaranteed money.

      Compare it to NFL Football
      3) They get a big contract with a signing bonus (player gets signing bonus no matter what). The rest of it is salary. if the player gets cut or released, He stops earning money and has to get another job or hopefully he saved money. Thus is a #1 draft pick doesn’t pan out, The teams are not out so much money.

  14. echech88 - Jul 9, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Part of me badly wants to see Appel go back to Stanford only to get drafted by Pittsburgh again next year at #9 so that I can read more Jon Heyman scripted tweets about the kid moving to Japan for a year

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