As had been reported for a few days now, the Houston Astros have officially agreed to a deal with the top overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, Stanford righty Mark Appel. The deal will be announced at a press conference later this afternoon.
Of particular note here, Appel reportedly signed for $6.35 million, which is almost $1.5 million under the slot value for the top overall pick.
The Chicago Cubs are still working on signing number two overall pick, Kris Bryant, for which there is a slot value of about $6.7 million. Although Appel’s deal does not dictate what Bryant will get, it gives the Cubs a great deal of ammo in trying to get Bryant under slot. With Appel signing at $6.35 million, the Cubs could now make Bryant the best-paid pick in the Draft and still sign him for a few hundred thousand under slot, which money the Cubs could then use elsewhere for signings.
Given that Scott Boras represents both Appel and Bryant, however, I’m not entirely sure he’s going to want to get his number two pick player a higher signing bonus than his number one pick player – I’m not really sure how good that looks for the Appel deal, or how it would look to future clients. Further, players who aren’t drafted as “value” picks tend to slot in behind each other in bonuses. Top pick gets the most, second pick gets second most, third pick gets third most, etc.
Tentatively, then, I’d take a guess that $6.35 million is the new ceiling on Bryant’s deal with the Cubs, with $5.2 million being the absolute floor (i.e., the same $1.5 million below slot that Appel just got).
If the two sides meet in the middle, Bryant will get a bonus right around $5.75/$5.8 million. Obviously that would represent huge savings to the Cubs to be used elsewhere in the Draft, and you’d have to be pretty happy about it. We’ll see if it plays out that way, because, remember, Bryant has more leverage than Appel (or Jonathan Gray) did. I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Bryant’s bonus figure start with a six.
The signing deadline is July 12, and a Bryant deal could come really at any point up until then. Stay on your toes.