As Draft Deadline Day begins, 17 of the 32 first-round picks are unsigned. That was exactly our situation a year ago.
What's different is that deals after the first round have been slowed in MLB's attempt—which almost certainly will be in vain—to keep draft spending down. From the supplemental round through the 10th, 62 players are currently unsigned, compared to 40 at this point in 2009.
Ultimately, all but two first-rounders and an additional 20 players selected in the top 10 rounds agreed to terms in 2009. Even with MLB trying to persuade teams from spending and berating them when they do, those numbers should be similar after the deadline comes at midnight tonight. The industry spent a combined $189.3 million on draft bonuses a year ago, and should blow that record away this year when all is said and done. One industry source said he wouldn't be surprised if the bonus total reached $200 million.
In the first three rounds, the players most likely not to sign are:
Barret Loux, rhp, Diamondbacks (first round, No. 6 overall). Arizona drafted Loux with the intention of signing him to a slightly below-slot deal, but he failed a physical in July. The club is expected to take the No. 7 pick in next year's draft as compensation rather than signing Loux at a reduced rate.
Zach Lee, rhp, Dodgers (first round, No. 28). The Louisiana State quarterback recruit is on campus and may require a deal worth three times MLB's $1,134,000 slot recommendation to consider giving up football. This might get done, though, as Los Angeles has spent less than $2 million on the draft so far and could give Lee a multiyear deal that would still keep its 2010 draft expenditures well below the industry average.
Brandon Workman, rhp, Red Sox (second round, No. 57). This deal could still get worked out but is complicated by the fact that an unnamed club promised Workman $1.25 million if he fell to them in the draft. That team wasn't Boston, which has several other potential seven-figure deals in the works and may spend Workman's slot money ($634,500) elsewhere if his asking price doesn't come down.
In the fourth round, Sam Dyson (Blue Jays), Matthew Grimes (White Sox), Austin Wood (Rays), Cole Green (Tigers) and Andrew Toles (Marlins) were not close to deals as of Sunday evening. Additionally, because he's the equivalent of a college senior and played in an independent league this spring, fourth-rounder James Paxton (Mariners) isn't subject to the deadline.
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