Did you think first round pick Albert Almora wasn’t going to try and get as much money from the Chicago Cubs as possible? Wouldn’t you?
Statistically speaking, this might be his only chance to score big bucks for his baseball talent, and he should try to get as much as he can.
That’s why I wasn’t worried or upset when I saw him saying things about going to college yesterday when he was asked about signing with the Cubs.
“My main priority now is college,” Almora told reporters yesterday. “I just graduated high school and I have a full scholarship to the University of Miami, and that’s all I’m looking forward to right now. What kid doesn’t want to play Major League Baseball? And, when the time is right, that will happen. Right now, my main priority is the University of Miami.”
“I trust my abilities, and I know what I can do on the field, but [signing] is not the priority right now,” Almora went on. “The priority right now [is] we have to let everything, the process, play out and let the cards fall where they have to fall.
“I can’t control that. That’s something that Chicago has to talk to with their organization and come to an agreement.”
He sure said “priority” a lot, huh?
Here’s the thing: Almora is just playing the game. He’s got a very savvy agent in Scott Boras, and he knows that it does him no good to say, “gee willackers, I can’t wait to sign with the Cubs for whatever they offer me!”
I asked Kevin Goldstein last night if he thought Cubs fans should be worried about the possibility of Almora not signing, and while he noted there were some “whispers about some stuff” (aren’t there always “whispers about some stuff” when Boras is involved?), Goldstein said he would still bet overwhelmingly that Almora would sign.
For my part, I’m really not too worried for two reasons.
First, and most importantly: Theo, Jed, and Jason wouldn’t have used their first round pick – at sixth overall – on a kid about whom they had serious doubts on signing. Remember, there have been rumors connecting the Cubs and Almora for weeks, which suggests that this process started a long time ago (informally, of course). For all we know, Almora is more than happy to sign for his $3.25 million slot amount, but the Cubs came to the table with an initial offer of, say, just $2 million. If that’s true, and Almora didn’t start talking publicly about college, I would question his intelligence. The bottom line: this is a smart kid who knows that this is his time to get paid. He’s just doing his part, and I say good for him.
The second reason I’m not too worried is because it isn’t the end of the world if Almora doesn’t sign. Let me be clear: I very much think Almora will sign, and I actually don’t even think it’s going to be a big fight. But, on the chance that something crazy happens, and Almora doesn’t sign, the Cubs aren’t screwed. Consider: if Almora doesn’t sign, the Cubs lose $3.25 million from their bonus pool, but they were probably going to lose that amount anyway by signing him for that much. Further, as compensation for failing to sign Almora, the Cubs would get the 7th overall pick in 2013. No, that pick isn’t worth as much in bonus money, but the 2013 Draft class is considered much better than this year’s crop. And it’s not even like the Cubs would lose a year of development on Almora, who’s just 18 – if the Cubs took, for example, a college junior with that number 7 pick, they’ve actually just accelerated the time table of that prospect over Almora by a year or two (that is to say, Almora will be 19 by next year, but the Cubs’ hypothetical replacement pick could be 20 or 21).
So, I’m pretty confident that we can all relax and let the process play out. The signing deadline is July 13.