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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.

  • notcubbiewubbie

    thanx brett you make a lot of sense in the non-sense world of pro sports.but also remember IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT THE MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Can’t think of a cool name

    Great analysis Brett. I was listening to Mully and Hanley aon the radio this morining and Mully had no clue what he was talking about. I generally like their show but he was way off base. They conuld not even confirm that the Cubs would get the #7 pick next year if Almora did not sign. You, Luke, and the posters on this site have kept me really informed ont he draft. Thanks.

    • CubsFanBob

      Ya they were clueless but I wouldn’t be surprised if a good majority of the broadcast sports media were unclear on the new draft rules. On top of that it’s in their interest to create drama over it. Hanley says he is a cubs fan but talks like a bitter sox fan most of the time.

      Keven Goldstein was golden on there yesterday. Really informative on the new draft rules and the impact they are having.

      • Can’t think of a cool name

        Yes, Goldstein was great. He explained that not every high school player has a full ride and this can be an impetus to sign.

        • CubsFanBob

          That plus the impact of the inner city kids and MLB was very interesting.

          I hope bud and jerry are happy.

    • beerhelps

      Yesterday they were talking about how Brett Jackson must be pissed the Cubs drafted a centerfielder … they are completely clueless when it comes to baseball, especially Mulligan. He should just stick to football, at least he knows a little about that. I am not a big fan of the score’s midday show, but those 2 in the morning are just freakin terrible.

      • CubsFanBob

        Ya even Jason Goff was talking about Brett Jackson & Vitters having a bad time in triple A losing worth and prospect value. Ya maybe in April but check your stats son is what I wanted to call in to say.

        There really isnt a Cub’s expert on the Score. A few personalities that think they know the system but the core here are far more knowledgeable.

        They are too busy pumping their ratings for the White Sox to take the time to know whats really going on. Oh and dont even get me started when they drag in someone saying their a Cub fan only to have it be some caller who maybe has seen one or two games all season, doesnt know shit about whats happen or is happening or the vision etc. At least they have Kevin Goldstein, Phil Rodgers, Jon Heyman etc on occasionally.

        And for god sake stop having Steve Stone provide Cubs insights. It’s as bad as asking Ronnie Woo Woo to give White Sox info.

  • ColoCubFan

    I hate the name Scott Boras!

    • Edwin

      Scott is very good at what he does. He goes out and tries to get the most money possible for his clients. That’s his job. I know it sucks that teams end up paying more for players because of it, but I can’t hold that against Mr. Boras.

      • Richard Nose

        ‘Mr Boras’…thats funny.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    If you go in thinking we won’t hear about Almora signing until 1 hour AFTER the deadline, you’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary worry.

    • Cedlandrum

      nods.

    • Joker

      This is sage wisdom.

    • Cyranojoe

      Indeed.

  • WGNstatic

    I posted this over at BCB, but frankly, I enjoy the discussions on BN far more, so I am reposting it here…

    A very good point by Neyer:
    http://mlb.sbnation.com/2012/6/5/3064793/mlb-draft-2012-tv-coverage

    “Speaking of the Draft, SBN’s Rob Neyer has some advice for the coverage: stop hyping every single first rounder as though he’s the next Cole Hamels or Clayton Kershaw.
    With the stories of Appel and Almora possibly being difficult to sign, it is looking like MLB has created a bit of a mess for itself.”

    Say what you will about the new CBA, but MLB draftees are almost all overpaid relative to the probability of their likely success. So, to “fix” this MLB has set pretty firm caps on what teams can spend on the draft etc. Makes some sense.

    However, they are also now hyping the draft more than ever. And, that hype seems to be working. I haven’t seen TV ratings, but based on the comments on this site, Bleacher Nation, Cubs Den, and a variety of other teams sites (all of which I wasted entirely too much time on in the last few days) they hype seems to be working. More and more fans are paying attention to the MLB draft and getting excited about the guys selected.

    In watching MLB network’s coverage on line, I chuckled as each guy was “compared” to a current MLB player, and of course they chose guys who match the absolute best case scenario. If you have guys on MLB network saying that a guy like Almora is the next Ryan Braun except he will be an excellent CF… well… you just made Scott Boras’ job a bit easier.

    I am not saying that this is an argument against the new CBA, and I am certainly not arguing that the draft shouldn’t be publicized, just that the combination of the two does make for an interesting problem.

    • Kyle

      Well first, I think it’s way too early to call Almora a “tough sign.”

      But more importantly, MLB draftees are most certainly not overpaid based on their probability of success. They are severely, severely underpaid for the value they bring to their organization.

      A high first-rounder like Almora has roughly a 40% chance of becoming at least an average major leaguer. (44% over No. 6 overall picks have earned at least 5 WAR in the bigs over the last 30 years, excluding the ones too recent to have made it through the minors).

      A league average player over six years will cost you roughly $60 million on the free agent market. A homegrown draft pick will get paid roughly $15 million for his first year of service time. That’s a $45 million savings to the big league club.

      What’s a 40% shot at a $45 million value surplus worth? Well, about $18 million, strictly speaking. And that’s not even including the possibility that the player will be significantly above average.

      The draft is designed to hold the cost of amateur players well below their market value, and it works.

    • rcleven

      “Speaking of the Draft, SBN’s Rob Neyer has some advice for the coverage: stop hyping every single first rounder as though he’s the next Cole Hamels or Clayton Kershaw.

      Said the same thing on the message board. To compare or project a player to player X is silly and lazy hype.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Yup. It’s very inaccurate.

        • hansman1982

          I think it is a good, simple way to state what a players ceiling is, granted a lot of the people throwing those names around just do it for effect, but it means more to me to hear that a guy has Justin Verlander potential vs. a different guy having Cole Hamels potential (both being #1 types but Verlander > Hamels).

      • Kyle

        It’s useful, but you have to understand that “ceiling” is “in a perfect world where everything goes right for this kid” not “if he progresses normally.”

        • Cyranojoe

          Yes. If people don’t understand that, they have a problem. What bothers me is I keep hearing only about the ideal situation. As a former engineer, I find single point estimations to be ridiculous — give me a range! And yes, I know the full range is “fails to escape the minors” to HOF. Let’s be reasonable.

          Ahhhh….

  • Chris

    I agree completely with your assessment Brett. This kid is going to sign. If anyone watched the predraft stuff, you would have seen the piece they did on him and his family. You don’t let the MLB Network do a puff piece on you for the MLB Draft special if you have no intention of signing. And worst case scenario, with the new draft rules and next year’s better class, so what if he doesn’t sign? The 7th pick in next year’s draft should be better than the 6th this year, in theory. That’s why a team like the Pirates were smart to draft Appel and see where the chips fall. Bottom line, he’ll sign a day or two before the deadline and get 60 at-bats in Arizona and/or Boise.

  • Gabriel

    Great points Brett – and I agree with every single one of them. I have complete and total confidence that Almora will sign with the Cubs for a reasonable amount and everything will be gravy.

    And yet….I can’t help feeling like there is a .01% chance that we lose this guy & pick next year or not, I want to keep this guy :/

  • Eric

    Even if this kid never pans out, just completely flames out (I don’t think that would happen) he’s about to make more in one day than most people will in their entire life.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      And he knows it.

      • King Jeff

        I completely missed that somehow, thanks.

        • TWC

          Breakfast Piña Coladas, Jeffrey?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Now I know where you stop reading…

          • King Jeff

            Yeah, you started to tail of with the happy thoughts about how a getting 21 year old prospect next year would be better than signing Almora, who by most accounts was their favorite prospect in this draft. So I must have started skimming, or something like that. :}

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I definitely didn’t say *anything* about “would be better.” :)

  • Kyle

    As in love as I am with Almora, two top-10 picks in a deeper draft next year would be kind of exciting.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      As someone (Julio? Hans?) said yesterday: imagine the budgetary games you could play later in the Draft. You could really turn out a spectacular overall Draft.

      • Richard Nose

        Then draft Almora again 2 years later?

        • http://www.bleedcubbieblue.com Josh

          Can’t draft a player a second time unless he agrees to it. Usually they agree, but the one time they don’t is when there were contentious contract negotiations. I’m sure if the Cubs don’t sign Almora, he’ll block the Cubs from drafting him again.

          Not that they won’t sign him.

  • mpope30

    Yes, I’m bringing it up. Can we sign Soler already?????

    • rcleven

      Nope.
      Not till the day before the CBA kicks in.

  • Drew7

    The only thing that worries me about getting another pick if we dont sign him is you cant really risk a guy not signing with that pick, because if you don’t sign him, you’re left with nothing.

    I could be misinterpreting the rules there, but I don’t think so.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You are correct.

      • Brian

        Why wouldn’t the club receive another pick the following year in the same scenario.

        • djriz

          Unsigned picks only role over one year.
          And only unsigned from the first three rounds.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Let me correct that – you get two years of protection in the new CBA. In other words, if you fail to sign the 6th overall pick in 2012, you get the 2013 7th pick. If you fail to sign that one, you get the 8th pick in 2014. But that’s your last bite at the apple – if you fail to sign that kid, you’re out of luck.

          • djriz

            woops, sorry.

            (but i’m still not reading 300 and some pages of CBA stuff)

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              No, I had it wrong at first, too. And then I remembered that I thought something changed this year. Looked it up, and there you go.

              • djriz

                well, hopefully this whole conversation is for naught, and he’s signed in time to report to opening day in boise.

    • djriz

      you would be correct.

  • Kyle

    Offers are due by Thursday to his agent. I expect him to be a Cub property by Friday.

    • Richard Nose

      Pack a lunch.

  • Edwin

    I also think he signs. If it’s about money, I just don’t see how he makes more money in next year’s draft. With basically a hard slot system in place, it’s unlikely a team will sign him for more next season. The only way he makes more money is by getting picked higher, which isn’t certain. Even if he does get picked higher, is it worth it?

    • Cyranojoe

      Especially since next year is supposed to be deeper, that’ll make for more competition at the top of the draft, yes?

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    Brett,
    How IS the obsessive Soler watch going??

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Big post coming tomorrow morning (tomorrow is the day Soler’s agent set to accept bids by).

  • King Jeff

    Now that’s looking at the glass half full. I’m not really worried either, but if more guys start talking about college and not liking their slot offer, it could change things.

    I wonder how much of a backlash there would be if a larger than normal amount of picks decided not to sign? Appel and Giolito are both going to be tough signs, and there are a lot of others that could decide to go to college instead of accepting less money. I wonder if that’s how teams are going to stock up on draft picks for stronger drafts, by taking guys in the weaker drafts that they know aren’t going to sign? It’s going to be very interesting to see how this plays out over the next couple of months. Is the signing deadline still in August this year?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Last sentence in the article…

  • Dave

    If he really wanted to go to school then I would say god bless but since this is nothing more then a negotiating tactic then make him an offer and if Boras rejects it walk away.
    For all the reasons Brett stated the Cubs don’t have all that much to lose except for the media criticism they will receive for selecting the kid and not signing him.

  • Dumpgobbler

    Great writeup Brett. My thoughts exactly. Offer him slot. I wouldn’t go much over slot really. If he doesn’t sign, we get the 7th pick in a better draft anyways, and only lose that 3.25 from our pool. I love Almora and think he will be with the cubs. But players dont really have a ton a leverage if they are drafted top 10. Not with the new CBA. Teams almost have to offer slot or they basically screw up the rest of the draft.

    Look at the Pirates. Good idea if you ask me. Offer Appel a little over slot. If he dont take it, fine. But these players have to see that teams cant go bananas anymore. Appel is a dumbass BTW, was offered 6m from the astros to go number 1. It appears to me the teams have adjusted to the new CBA much better then the draftees.

  • terencemann

    Great write-up. I hope the Cubs get Almora but I’m also hoping that as many players as possible fail to sign this year due to hard slots just to expose what a dumb system this is.

  • OkieCub

    Thanks Brett, tentatively stepping off the ledge now.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No problem. You might want to leave your chair there, just in case.

  • djriz

    Some other things to consider:
    -If we thought Amora was the best player in this draft, are we sure we could match his talent next year?
    -Not EVERYONE thinks next year’s draft is better.
    -Almora has to know that he wouldn’t be guaranteed 3.25m if he came out after 3 yrs of college. A lot can happen in three years.
    -It was reported last week that Almora (Boras?) sent a letter to teams saying he was going to college. Keith Law called it BS. But like Brett said, would the FO have picked him if they didn’t know. (is that why they drafted like they did in rounds 4-15 yesterday? To save money to pay Al-Al?)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Who doesn’t think the 2013 draft is better than 2012?

      • The Show

        Any big impact guys like a David Price, Strasburg or Harper type players that can go through the minors quickly and have a huge impact on the major league roster in next years draft?

  • Beer Baron

    I felt old when I saw that this kid was born the week after Kurt Cobain died. Yikes.

    • Leroy K.

      yikes. I knew that when playing MLB2k12, they don’t have my birth year anymore…

  • Brian

    How does the money situation work on non drafted signees?

    • Kyle

      Same limitations as guys after the first 10 rounds.

  • Joker

    Thanks, Brett – great job as always. I have full confidence in the FO to get him signed. I have actually become quite smitten with this kid after watching the videos on him. He seems to exemplify the things we know about the “Cubs Way” document that the FO produced. Hard working, high character, fundamentally sound. There is no way that Theo and Co. didn’t know the magic number it would take to sign him and plan accordingly. I think some of the other draft picks through the tenth round show that.

  • Adam

    F$@&ing Scott Boras

  • BFiddy

    Brett, I understand your rationale and don’t disagree with anything you wrote here.

    However, it seems to me that Theo, Jed, and Co. failing to sign their first draft pick with the Cubs would have a pretty negative effect on outside perception of what we are doing. Ill-informed fans would have a shit-fit and with the way we are performing on the field this season, getting good news from the draft is important.

    Hopefully it all works out…I’ve fallen in love with Almora over the last couple weeks and really want things to pan out…

    • DocPeterWimsey

      In part, a lot will depend on how many first round picks do not sign.  If it is just Almora (or Almora and just a couple of others), then informed and ill-informed fans will be upset. However, if numerous first rounders do not sign (or if multiple Boras clients do not sign), then there might be enough focus on the new system and/or Boras (long a fan whipping boy, anyway) that it will be a bigger story than the failing of any one team.

  • Kevin

    Good write up Brett!

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Of course the young man is going to sign a contract, probably somewhere between 2.5 mil. and 4 mil. What he really said in the quotes, is the priority right now is to get as much money from the bonus pool as I can.
    And I look at it this way. If for some bizarre reason an 18 year old kid would turn down 3 million dollars, I don’t really want him then. Because it tells me there is some real dysfunction somewhere, a real flaw in the decision making process, and those types of players always seem to have black clouds over them. But Almora will sign, he comes off as a really bright guy with a passion for baseball, hope he stays healthy and becomes a Cub some day.
    On another note, I find it really unfair to these young guys when you have MLB comparing them to superstar players like Ryan Braun. Ridiculous really and hack journalism.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    The difference between Almora and the #7 pick next year isn’t worth losing a year of development time.

  • Gabriel

    Phil Rodgers makes a salient point (surprise!):

    “I would not get too concerned about the posturing here,” Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune told The Mully and Hanley Show. “Guys drafted as highly as sixth overall get signed. Since J.D. Drew in 1998, 77-of-78 guys drafted this highly signed. The only one who didn’t was found after the draft to have a bad shoulder. … I think this is just sort of Negotiation 101. The kid has a batting cage in his back yard. He doesn’t live next to the library. … This a Scott Boras guy.”

  • cubchymyst

    Got a question. This might have been answered but is the 5% you can go up to and not lose a draft pick based off total of the 1st 10 or the slot total of the picks you sign? So if the cubs lose Almora they lose the 3.2 million from their draft total, is the 5% rule then based off of the new cubs draft total or the original one?

    • Kyle

      Your 5% would go down with the unsigned player.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I wondered that earlier today myself. Based on the wording, I believe the answer is that the 5% is based on your allotted pool, not whatever your pool ends up being if you fail to sign a couple kids. But I’ve not seen anyone discuss that specific issue.

      (That’s a total lawyer question, by the way – which I mean as a compliment.)

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