The rumors could come fast and furious today – and they could all contradict each other, because why wouldn’t they? – and it’s starting early.
Baseball America’s Jim Callis just released his latest mock draft, which has the Astros going for Jonathan Gray at the top (remember, Callis was saying just yesterday that he was hearing more and more that the Astros might step up and pay for Mark Appel), and the Cubs taking Appel second.
Of greater note here is why Callis has Gray going first and Appel going second. Callis suggests the Astros have yet to receive assurances from Appel’s camp that he’ll sign at a reasonable figure. And, as a senior who can wait to sign until next year right before the draft, Appel could hold the Astros’ bonus pool hostage, as Callis puts it.
Moreover, Callis hears “a lot of buzz” that the Cubs are closing in on a deal with Appel. Obviously they can’t yet literally make a deal with him, but there can be sufficient winking and nodding for the Cubs to have comfort in selecting Appel (who may prefer to wind up with the Cubs over the Astros, anyway, even if he hails from Houston).
That said, you have to regard the rumor suspiciously at this stage in the game. It could have been leaked by Appel’s camp to try and get a little extra money from the Astros (i.e., he tells them “I’ve got a $6 million offer from the Cubs, and I’m going to take it unless you agree that you’ll offer me $6.5 million … and if you draft me without an agreement in place, I’m going to hold your feet to the fire for $8+ million”).
So, yeah. Maybe the Cubs are close to a deal with Appel and he’ll be their pick tonight. Or maybe Appel really wants to go to the Astros, and just wants a little more scratch.