Jim Callis, Baseball America's minor league guru
was on XM Radio Saturday morning. He updated the first round draft choices
which haven't signed yet. The deadline to sign is this next Wednesday, August 15th. The only one signed in the top 5 is Pittsburgh's (#4) pick potential closer Dan Moskos
, who did sign for the slotted $2.5 million dollars. Callis thinks Cubs (#3) pick third baseman Josh Vitters will sign but is waiting to see what the #2 pick gets, KC's Michael Moustakas (a Scott Boras client). Everyone involved is eager to see how much above the MLB slot money the agents particularly Boras can get. He believes #1 pick David Price (also in the Boras camp) will sign and that they may already have an agreement but are trying not to release it until the last minute. It seems that if they announced it early it will affect how much above the slotted money the other top picks sign for. It's a game of chicken so blinking at the last minute makes it harder to make the other's blink in unison leading to falling dominoes. Although Callis thought all the top picks will sign, the two with the highest probability to not sign would be Boras clients, Moustakas and catcher Matt Wieters (#5, Baltimore).
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has this excellent Q and A
regarding the slotting recommendations for the draft. The mid August signing deadline is new too as previously teams had the whole year to get their deal done or lose out on the prospect.
"MLB simply recommends a bonus for each selection. Teams do not have to adhere to the recommendation. In addition, the recommended bonuses this year are 10 percent lower than last year"
The penalty for signing over slot money?
“The only thing MLB can do is fine you if you don’t call them first,” said one scouting director, who then went into detail about the process, the annoyance in his voice coming through perfectly. “You call MLB and say you want to go over slot, and they tell you not to, and that they’ve worked so hard to put this system in place and that you are blowing everything up.” From there, things get uglier. “Now, the process can’t continue until MLB talks not to your GM, but to your ownership, where they will once again yell about your team messing everything up, but also often telling them that their own scouting director is doing the wrong thing here,” he added. “Unfortunately, there are owners who listen.”
The key to getting an over-slot deal done seems to then rely on having a supportive internal management structure. “In the end, you have to have a strong enough ownership where you can tell him that signing this player for big money is in the best interest of the organization,” he continued. “When that happens, the owner has to call MLB back and let them know that their message has been heard and considered, but we’re doing it anyway. Then after MLB yells at you one more time, you sign the guy. It’s a bad process.”
The penalty for not signing one's pick? That team gets a first round pick in 2008 but one below their 2007 draft choice, so the Cubs not signing Vitters would pick #4 in 2008. Still, it would be one talented hitter the Cubs don't want to whiff on.