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Mark Appel and six other first-round picks remain unsigned as Friday’s deadline approaches

Jul 9, 2012, 1:16 PM EDT

deadline clock

As part of the new collective bargaining agreement MLB moved the deadline for draft picks to sign from mid-August to mid-July, so this year’s unsigned picks have until Friday at 5:00 p.m. eastern time to ink deals.

Most early selections signed within two weeks of the draft, but seven of the 31 first-round picks remain unsigned and that includes several of the draft’s biggest names.

#4 Kevin Gausman, LSU right-hander (Orioles)
#6 Albert Almora, high school outfielder (Cubs)
#8 Mark Appel, Stanford right-hander (Pirates)
#9 Andrew Heaney, Oklahoma St. left-hander (Marlins)
#16 Lucas Giolito, high school right-hander (Nationals)
#25 Richie Shaffer, Clemson third baseman (Rays)
#30 Ty Hensley, high school right-hander (Yankees)

Giolito fell to the Nationals at No. 16 in part because of his elbow injury and in part because of his presumed bonus demands, and Appel’s fall to the Pirates at No. 8 is well-documented. Almora immediately made it clear he’d be a tough sign when the Cubs took him No. 6, and not coincidentally both Appel and Almora are “advised” by agent Scott Boras.

Most draft analysts seem to think at most one or two first-round picks will go unsigned, largely because the new CBA also put in place a slot bonus system that makes holding out for more money very difficult. Of course, that doesn’t mean Appel and Boras, for instance, won’t try.

UPDATE: We can cross Almora off the list, as he’s apparently agreed to terms with the Cubs for an over-slot bonus.

  1. icanspeel - Jul 9, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    I’m not totally familiar with the system, but say they don’t sign. Does that mean they go to college (Or return to college if already there) and try again next year? Seems risky over a measly signing bonus. The real money is in becoming an MLB star I would think.

    • geoknows - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      Yes, that’s right.

    • tcostant - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:07 PM

      The teams will get a first round pick next year if they don’t sign (no chance there). But Appel could go back to college for a year and hope to be a first overall pick next year, where the bonus is a lot higher. But your point is fair, unless someone feels they will be drafted a lot higher in a future year, their is really no point of returning to school.

      • redguy12588 - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        If Appel does go #1 overall next year, it’s worth it. If he doesn’t, there’s a good chance he gets less than he will now, he’ll be older, and he won’t have the option of going back to school. Plus there’s an injury risk as well.

      • tcostant - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:54 PM

        I agree with you.

      • napoleonblownapart6887 - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:27 PM

        I would love for the Buccos to sign Appel, but I don’t want them going over slot to do so. I would not give up future first round picks for Appel, but I would give up Appel for future first round picks.

      • proudlycanadian - Jul 9, 2012 at 5:52 PM

        Boras has leaked through Heyman that Appel has turned down $3.8 million and will return to college. If my memory is correct, Appel’s last college game did not go very well, so his chance of going higher next season is not guaranteed. If he had an agent without a reputation of being greedy, he could have been selected first and would have signed for a lot more than $3.8 million.

  2. jarathen - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    I can’t see how it’s worth the risk of injury to go an entire year all over again.

    I respect that Boras does a good job of getting money for his clients, but I can’t help but wonder if these young guys are endangering their future because of a couple hundred thousand dollars.

    • tcostant - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      I’d agree with that, because it likely costs them a year getting to the bigs and starting that service clock ticking.

  3. Panda Claus - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Under the new CBA, if a pick isn’t signed, would the team still get that pick back next year as in years past? For example, if Gausman isn’t signed as the #4 pick, under previous drafts the Orioles would get that pick back in the next draft, although as I remember it would be one pick later (#5 in the 2013 draft).

    As far as I know that only applied to unsigned first rounders, but I have no idea how that will work now.

    • proudlycanadian - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:37 PM

      I believe that they would get the #5 pick next year.

  4. paperlions - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    A couple of weeks ago, KLaw opined that a few picks may play “chicken” to see who can be the last one….next year’s draft looks like it’ll be pretty crappy, so Giolito or Appel or Almora could easily go #1 next year and get a far bigger bonus than they are offered now. Of course, all of them can’t do that as that would kill the strategy….but one or two of them could. For example, if Appel didn’t sign, he would be considered the top prospect for next year (which could change, of course), if taken 1st next year he could at least double what can be offered to him now….still, that could cut down on his long-term earning power as it’ll likely delay him reaching arbitration, FA, and the big bucks by a year.

    • redguy12588 - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:17 PM

      I heard the exact opposite. This year was a weak draft, next years will be stronger.

      • paperlions - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        From what I’ve read, next year is supposed to be even worse (this year being considered a bit below average) because so many HS guys signed in 2010, making the college JRs coming out very weak.

      • jarathen - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:38 PM

        Keith Law has reported as recently as last week that next year is nothing special, and I don’t remember more than a few players standing out this year.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        From last week’s chat:
        Klaw (1:38 PM)

        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.

        http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/44447/mlb-insider-keith-law

  5. Ari Collins - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Almora to sign with the Cubs for $3.9MM https://twitter.com/jimcallisBA/status/222392999496253441

    • hansob - Jul 9, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      Cubs are now over slot, so I think they are in 75% penalty land for being 0-5% over budget. I think that will only cost them a couple hundred grand, though.

  6. windycity0301 - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Giolito and almora would have to wait until free their junior year in college. Appel will be available next year. Unless the two highschoolers give up their scholarships and go to junior colleges. And from what Almora said, he is working on getting ready for Miami. So it looks like it would be a three year wait for him to move up at most five spots?
    Hopefully these guys have heard the old adage: “a bird in the hand…”.

    • paperlions - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      They wouldn’t have to wait 3 years, just go to a JuCo for 1 yr and try again. MLB only has the 3 year agreement with “big time” college baseball.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:52 PM

        Also depends on age as some Sophomores are eligible as well.

    • kkolchak - Jul 9, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      In Giolito’s case, the risk is whether his arm is permanently damaged. If he signs, it’s the Nats’ risk. If he doesn’t, he owns it.

  7. Ari Collins - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    For those who think these guys are taking a poor risk, consider that for most prospects, they’re not going to make much, or anything, in the majors. For most of them, the signing bonus is the most they’ll ever get. Holding out for the most you can get makes a whole lot of sense.

  8. Ben - Jul 9, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Appel doesn’t have much to gain by not signing and going into next year’s draft–the maxim “minimize your maximum possible loss” seems awfully pertinent here. The difference between 3 million and 5 million is substantially less than the difference between 3 million and 0 million if he gets hurt. Not worth the risk.

  9. rcali - Jul 9, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    And to think most of these first rounders will never be more than a spot on a bus in the minors for their entire “career.”

  10. Chris K - Jul 9, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    I’m just going to say “Matt Harrington” and walk away http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Harrington

  11. jkaflagg - Jul 10, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    Didn’t guys like Hochevar & Crow play independent ball after turning down draft teams in their junior year ? I think the theory is that you can control your workload better than you could as a college senior…..

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