Every year it’s the same thing. The Pirates take a player who is a tough sign. Somehow each year is more difficult. Then the questions come in: Will they sign this guy?
I understood it after the 2008 draft. They took Pedro Alvarez, which was a foreign concept considering the previous group passed on Matt Wieters the year before.
I understood it in 2009. The Pirates went with a ton of over-slot prep pitchers. That was new territory.
In 2010 they took Stetson Allie in the second round, which was seen as a much harder sign than the prep pitchers the previous years.
Somehow they managed to get an even tougher sign in 2011 when Josh Bell told teams not to draft him, but the Pirates took him anyway with the second pick.
And now we’ve got Mark Appel, who entered the day as the likely number one pick, and ended up falling to eighth overall. The slot price for first overall is $7.2 M. The slot price for eighth is $2.9 M. And Appel is represented by Scott Boras.
This will undoubtedly lead to a month of “Will Appel sign?” questions. They might be straight up questions. They might be “Give a percentage of this happening” questions. But they’ll still come. You’d think this question wouldn’t be asked after all of the “impossible” signings the Pirates have made the last few years, but it’s still around. So let me give you my opinion now. It’s not going to change.
Mark Appel will sign. It makes no sense for him to not sign. Yes, it’s probably disappointing for him that he went from potentially getting $7.2 M to a pick with the slot price of $2.9 M. He’ll probably try to recover some of that money by going for an over-slot price. But here are the facts.
**Appel is coming off a junior year where he posted a 2.37 ERA in 110 innings.
**The 2012 draft class was widely seen as a weak group.
**The 2013 draft class is seen as much stronger.
Add all of that up. Appel doesn’t have many options next year. He could return for his senior year of college and re-enter the draft with less leverage. Or he could go to Indy ball and still get less leverage. And it’s not like he’s going to improve his stock. It’s hard to improve over a 2.37 ERA, especially when that came with a 9.4 K/9 and a 4.8 K/BB ratio.
The fact is that Appel fell to eighth overall in a weak 2012 draft class. What are the odds that he’d go in the top four in a stronger class next year? If the Pirates offered him $2.9 M, he’d have to go in the top four to get a significant raise. He’s looking at $1.3 M extra if he moves up to fourth, with a big risk of losing that much if he gets injured or has a poor season. Once again, the 2013 class is much stronger, which only decreases his odds of going in the top four next year. And if he wants number one or number two money, he’s being unrealistic. If there was a draft that he would have gotten that money, it would have been this year. But that didn’t happen. So why would it happen next year with a stronger class?
Appel has very little leverage. Whatever he thought his value was, and whatever he might have gotten is irrelevant. The draft order established his value. He doesn’t have a lot of options if he refuses to sign, and he’s more likely to see his value decline next year than he is to get a bigger bonus in a stronger draft class.
So I think Appel will sign. It could be for over-slot, but I don’t think it will be a significant amount. It probably won’t happen until the deadline. But I do think it will happen. Again, the Pirates have a pretty good track record with “impossible” draft signings. I don’t see why this one is any harder than the previous examples.
Links and Notes
**The Pirates were off today.
**Prospect Watch: Alex Dickerson hits two homers and goes 5-for-6.
**Draft Day One Recap: Pirates Add Another Potential Number One to the Mix
**Pirates will bid on Jorge Soler, Bidding Due Thursday. I don’t expect the Pirates to get Soler.