SEE ALSO: 2016 Draft Database
The last-minute drama of the draft's signing deadline was largely eliminated by the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, which placed limits on draft spending and moved the signing deadline up to July 15.
In years past, several signings went down to the wire. Friday, as the 5 p.m. deadline approaches, only one first-round pick remained unsigned, lefthander Braxton Garrett, whom the Marlins selected with the seventh overall pick. Friday morning, however, Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported that the two sides have a deal in place. MLB.com’s Jim Callis reported his bonus was $4,145,900, which Baseball America has confirmed. The bonus slot for the seventh overall pick is $3,756,300.
The Marlins signing with Garrett means that they have used all of their bonus pool. This marks the first time that Miami has done this in the five years of the current draft rules. In every other year, Miami has not used the entirety of its pool.
Garrett was one of just four players selected in the top 10 rounds that had not yet signed entering Friday, and just two had indicated they would not sign. The highest was the 41st overall pick, Pirates supplemental pick Nick Lodolo, another prep lefthander. Lodolo sent out a tweet on July 12 indicating his intent to follow through with his commitment to Texas Christian.
Teams have to forfeit draft picks if they spend more than five percent above their total draft pool allotment. This five-percent figure is based on the total pool, regardless of whether the team signs every player in the top 10 rounds, sources told Baseball America. Pittsburgh’s bonus pool for picks in the top 10 rounds would be just north of $7 million if it signed Lodolo, but without inking him, the Pirates can spend approximately $5.78 million without sacrificing a future draft pick. This leaves them with just below $200,000 left to sign 14th-round pick Hagen Owenby, a draft-eligible sophomore from East Tennessee State who has shown impressive tools in the Cape Cod League this summer. A deal does not appear imminent, as Owenby’s stock has improved this summer.
In addition to the prep southpaws, a pair of seventh-round picks remain unsigned. Orioles pick Preston Palmeiro, a first baseman from North Carolina State and the son of Rafael Palmeiro, was in Baltimore Thursday for a physical, so a deal appears imminent. Given the signing bonuses of players the Orioles have already signed, the most they could give to Palmeiro without sacrificing a 2017 draft pick is $232,134.99. The bonus slot associated with where Palmeiro was selected is $204,700.
Like Lodolo, Oklahoma State righthander Tyler Buffet announced on Twitter that he will not sign with the Astros, who drafted him in the seventh round. Buffett will return to Oklahoma State for his senior year, in pursuit of another College World Series run.
-- Tyler Buffett (@Candyman1111) July 13, 2016
Buffett came on strong this season and pitched brilliantly in Omaha last month, throwing eight shutout innings in a 1-0 victory over eventual runner-up Arizona. His return to Stillwater is a huge boost for Oklahoma State's 2017 prospects.
Undrafted free agents can sign after Friday’s deadline, though any bonuses in excess of $100,000 will count against a team's bonus pool, with the first $100,000 of the bonus not counting against the pool. One NDFA of note is Nevada outfielder T.J. Friedl, who is playing for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team this summer.
As things stand, the Rays, Reds, Rockies, Blue Jays and Twins (in that order) have the most leftover money to spend. Sources have told Baseball America that not every team was aware that Friedl was draft-eligible, as he was a redshirt sophomore. According to sources, Friedl was expected to sign for close to seven figures when Team USA’s summer is over.