As Rick Porcello nears completion of a record contract with the Tigers, the aftershocks will be felt in several other negotiations with first-round picks, most notably David Price (No. 1 overall, Devil Rays), Mike Moustakas (No. 2, Royals) and Matt Wieters (No. 5, Orioles).
All four ranked among the 2007 draft’s top five prospects, but only Porcello dropped significantly because of signability, falling all the way to No. 27. The New Jersey high school righthander is wrapping up a $7 million major league contract with Detroit, a record guarantee for a prep draft pick signing with the club that selected him.
[Editorâ€™s note: Porcello's contract information was updated on Aug. 14.]Â
â€¢ Price, the Vanderbilt lefthander who was Baseball America’s College Player of the Year and the consensus top prospect, always figured to exceed the top deals from the 2006 draft ($5.45 million to the Tigers’ Andrew Miller, the seventh overall pick, and $5.25 million to the Royals’ Luke Hochevar, the top choice). Price and agent Bo McKinnis reportedly were seeking a major league deal in the $8 million range, and Porcello’s deal could push Price’s worth closer to $10 million.
â€¢ With Price going off the board at No. 1, the Royals would have liked to select Porcello, but knew they couldn’t afford him. Their next preference was Moustakas, a California infielder who was BA’s High School Player of the Year and the best prep hitter in the draft. The night before the draft, Kansas City determined that Moustakas (like Porcello a Scott Boras client) also was out of its price range and settled on California high school third baseman Josh Vitters.
However, by the morning of the draft, the Royals reversed course and decided that they could sign Moustakas. That has proven difficult, and he’s now the first-rounder most likely to not come to terms. His asking price surely rose with the deal struck by Porcello, and Kansas City may not be able to deter him from attending Southern California.
MLB’s slot recommendation for the No. 2 pick is estimated at $3.15 million, and Moustakas has his sights set higher than that. It’s also unclear as to whether Royals owner David Glass will authorize an above-slot payment to Moustakas. Glass is a staunch ally of commissioner Bud Selig and may not spurn Selig’s adamant desire for clubs to adhere to MLB’s slotting.
Kansas City scouting director Deric Ladnier remains hopeful that he can sign Moustakas, whom Boras has called the best high school hitter since Alex Rodriguez.
“I met with the family before the draft, and they indicated an overwhelming desire to go play,” Ladnier says. “Before and after the draft, they have indicated a strong desire to sign. It was a close call. We decided the morning of the draft to select Mike, based on conversations with the family, and I’ll leave it at that.”
â€¢ The situation with Wieters, a Georgia Tech catcher considered the top college position player available, has been affected by the upheaval in the Orioles’ front office. Two weeks after the draft, Baltimore hired Andy MacPhail as chief operating officer. Another strong Selig ally, MacPhail is less inclined to buck MLB’s slotting than the Orioles were before he came aboard.
Boras has drawn parallels between Wieters and another switch-hitting Yellow Jackets product: Mark Teixeira, a fellow Boras client. Teixeira signed a $9.5 million major league contract with the Rangers as the fifth overall pick in 2001. As with Moustakas, Boras almost certainly will use Porcello’s contract as a point of comparison with Wieters.
Though there have been reports that the Orioles won’t be able to sign Wieters, Baltimore scouting director Joe Jordan expressed optimism Monday that a deal could be reached. Jordan, who declined to discuss specifics, also has an unsigned Boras client in the fifth round: Texas Christian righthander Jake Arrieta.
Here’s where the rest of the unsigned first-rounders stood as of Monday evening:
â€¢ Vitters (Cubs, No. 3) appears to be waiting for Price and Moustakas to sign above-slot deals in hopes that he can do the same. The No. 3 slot is estimated at $2.7 million, and Vitters is unlikely to exceed that by a significant percentage.
â€¢ The ninth through 12th picks all are hoping to emulate No. 14 choice Jason Heyward, who signed for 2006 slot money rather than for 2007 slot money, which MLB arbitrarily reduced by 10 percent. Heyward signed with the Braves for $1.7 million on Sunday, while MLB had recommended $1.53 million.
The slot for Indiana high school righthander Jarrod Parker (No. 9, Diamondbacks) is $1.89 million, with North Carolina prep lefty Madison Bumgarner (No. 10, Giants), Canadian high school righty Phillippe Aumont (No. 11, Mariners) and California prep third baseman Matt Dominguez (No. 12, Marlins) falling in behind Parker in decreasing increments of $90,000. The difference between the 2006 and 2007 slots for each player is roughly $200,000 apiece.
Of the four, Dominguez is the closest to signing and a deal could be reached early Tuesday. Bumgarner may be the most difficult to sign, as he has set his sights on the $2.3 million received by last year’s top high school lefty (Clayton Kershaw, No. 7 to the Dodgers). If he doesn’t turn pro, Bumgarner won’t attend North Carolina as originally planned and instead will go to San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College–making him eligible for the 2008 draft.
Mississippi high school outfielder Wendell Fairley (No. 29, Giants) is in the same situation, with San Francisco trying to hold firm at 2007 slot money ($990,000).
â€¢ Texas high school righthander Blake Beavan (No. 17, Rangers) may be seeking as much as $2 million, considerably higher than MLB’s slot recommendation of $1,417,500. Like Bumgarner, Beavan has switched his commitment from a four-year school (Oklahoma) to a two-year school (Navarro, Texas, Junior College) in order to be eligible for the 2008 draft should he not turn pro. However, industry sources believe the Rangers likely will work out a deal with him.
â€¢ North Carolina State righthander Andrew Brackman (No. 30, Yankees), yet another Scott Boras client, ranked among the 2007 draft’s top prospects until a late-season slump fueled talk that he has an elbow injury that will require Tommy John surgery. Nevertheless, industry sources expect New York will more than triple MLB’s slot recommendation of $945,000.
Contributing: John Manuel, Alan Matthews
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