Kris Bryant, the Chicago Cubs’ top pick in the Draft this year, is one of very few first rounders remaining unsigned, and most of those around him in the Draft came to terms a long time ago.
That, alone, is no reason to worry. As a junior represented by Scott Boras, the negotiations were always expected to take a while with Bryant. But a report today from Jon Heyman suggests there are actual issues in the negotiations, with Bryant’s camp (represented by Scott Boras) wanting the Cubs to go over the $6.7 million slot value for the number two pick, and the Cubs looking to sign Bryant for closer to $6 million, which would leave them some room to take some shots at over slot types later in the Draft. (For more on where things stand in this regard, see this post.)
The Cubs recently wrapped up their other picks in the top ten rounds, meaning that they know where they stand in terms of penalties if they fail to sign Bryant. Fortunately, if the Cubs fail to sign Bryant, it looks like the Cubs would not be at risk for losing a future draft pick, based on the deals they’ve made with players in the top ten rounds already (that includes the shrinking of the allowed 5% overage). That assumes, however, that the Cubs haven’t already inked any over slot deals with players after round 10, and don’t have any intentions to do so.
In that regard, the real battle here isn’t about $700,000, which the Cubs can surely afford. The battle is about how much the Cubs can give Bryant without mucking up their Draft plans. If Boras gets too grabby, there could be an issue
That said, I still believe the Cubs fully expect to sign Bryant at least slightly under slot so that they can (1) sign, officially, 12th round high school pitcher Trevor Clifton, who has already said that he’s receiving “third round money” to sign with the Cubs, and (2) have a little money left to take some shots with guys they took later in the Draft. I can’t possibly believe the Cubs didn’t know, with some certainty, the range it was going to take to sign Bryant when they drafted him in the first place. A worthwhile reminder: the Cubs could still make Bryant the top paid pick in the Draft (Mark Appel got $6.35 million), AND get him for under slot.
The Heyman report doesn’t really worry me at this point, particularly given Heyman’s closeness to many, many Scott Boras rumors over the years. Boras wants to get the most money for Bryant as possible, and he knows the Cubs might have some extra money to play with by the signing deadline (July 12). These negotiations will probably continue on for a while, and Bryant will probably get as much as the Cubs have left to give at that point. The risk of Bryant not signing is close to zero.
But that won’t keep us all from feeding on the drama for a couple more weeks …