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Mets Fail To Sign Kumar Rocker By Signing Deadline



The Mets and first-round righthander Kumar Rocker failed to come to terms on a deal, and with the August 1 signing deadline now in the rearview mirror, the Mets are the only team that failed to come to terms with its top pick in the 2021 draft.

According to reporting from ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel, the two sides agreed to a $6 million deal, but the agreement fell apart after Rocker had a physical with the team.

Rocker was the No. 5 ranked prospect, and solidly among the first tier of players, in a draft class that lacked an obvious 1-1 talent. After Rocker fell to the Mets with the 10th pick of the draft, it seemed that New York made a clear strategy to create savings with their picks in rounds 2-10 in order to get Rocker signed to a deal worth more than the slot value for the 10th overall pick ($4,739,900).

The Mets will receive the 11th pick in the 2022 draft for failing to sign Rocker. Teams are required to offer 40 percent of the slot value to receive a compensatory pick if the player in question submitted to MLB’s requested pre-draft MRI. Rocker did not undergo a pre-draft MRI, so the Mets were under no obligation to offer a minimum amount to receive the compensatory pick.

Because slot values are just suggestions in MLB’s draft system, teams aren’t required to sign a player for each pick’s assigned slot value. That means some players agree to deals less than an assigned pick value (notably college players and seniors with less leverage) while others will sign for more than a pick’s value (mostly high school players with options to go to college if they don’t sign).

The Mets signed six of their top 10 round players to under slot deals and three others to deals that were exactly slot value. Additionally, the Mets signed each of their 11-20 round picks to deals worth $125,000 or less.

RD

PK

Player

POS

Slot Value

Signing
Bonus

Amount To
Bonus Threshold

Over/
Under

1

10

Kumar Rocker

RHP

4,739,900

-

-

-

2

46

Calvin Ziegler

RHP

1,617,400

910,000

910,000

-707,400

3

81

Dominic Hamel

RHP

755,300

755,300

755,300

0

4

111

JT Schwartz

1B

522,600

475,000

475,000

-47,600

5

142

Christian Scott

RHP

386,600

350,000

350,000

-36,600

6

172

Carson Seymour

RHP

291,400

291,400

291,400

0

7

202

Kevin Kendall

SS

227,700

200,000

200,000

-27,700

8

232

Mike Vasil

RHP

181,200

181,200

181,200

0

9

262

Levi David

RHP

157,200

120,000

120,000

-37,200

10

292

Keyshawn Askew

LHP

147,000

125,000

125,000

-22,000

11

322

Rowdey Jordan

OF

0

125,000

0

0

12

352

Jack-Thomas Wold

OF

0

125,000

0

0

13

382

Matt Rudick

OF

0

125,000

0

0

14

412

Nathan Lavender

LHP

0

125,000

0

0

15

442

Wyatt Young

SS

0

125,000

0

0

16

472

Trey McLoughlin

RHP

0

30,000

0

0

17

502

Nick Zwack

LHP

0

50,000

0

0

18

532

Kolby Kubichek

RHP

0

125,000

0

0

19

562

Drake Osborn

C

0

30,000

0

0

20

592

Justin Guerrera

SS

0

75,000

0

0

In the current bonus pool system, teams can sign players in rounds 11 or later for up to $125,000 before having to tap into their assigned bonus pool. For instance, if a player in rounds 11-20 signs for $130,000, then $5,000 would come out of a team’s bonus pool.

The Mets had a $9,026,300 bonus pool to work with, and entering Sunday had come to agreements with every selection outside of Rocker, for a total bonus pool usage of $3,407,900. That means the team had $5,618,400 in savings from under slot deals, plus around $450,000 in overages up to the five percent mark before a team incurs future draft pick penalties. Those figures come to just over $6 million that Rocker and the Mets had reportedly agreed to.

If a team fails to sign a player, it loses the slot value for that pick, which means the $4,739,900 value cannot then be pushed to another player. However, because the Mets went under slot to create savings in the first place, they could theoretically then use that savings on an 11-20 round backup who might have a six-figure asking price.

However, with the Mets signing each of their other picks and all of their post-10th round players to $125,000 bonuses or less, no such player exists to now pivot the money to. Essentially, the Mets have about $1.3 million in unused bonus pool space after failing to come to terms with Rocker.

Now, instead of a player of Rocker’s pedigree joining the organization, the team will receive the 11th pick in the 2022 draft as compensation.

Rocker becomes the first first-round pick to go unsigned since the Braves failed to sign Carter Stewart, the eighth overall pick in the 2018 draft. The Braves and Stewart failed to come to an agreement after the two sides ended up in a dispute over the results of Stewart’s medicals. Stewart ended up signing to play with Japan’s Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. There have been seven first-rounders who have failed to come to agreement since the current draft system was adopted in 2012.

Under the current system, disputes about medicals are the most common reason that teams and players fail to come to an agreement by the signing deadline. Teams generally have an understanding of how much it will cost to sign a player before they select them in the first round. But that understanding can be tested if the two sides dispute the results of a post-draft medical examination (contracts are not finalized until after a medical examination).

Jackleiter Kumarrocker Fourseam

Rocker, Leiter Become First Teammates To Win Player, Freshman Of The Year In Same Season

The Vanderbilt duo takes home our two respective awards, with Rocker winning 2021 Player of the Year and Leiter 2021 Freshman of the Year.

College players going unsigned in the first round are even more rare. Rocker is only the third college first-rounder to fail to sign since the current system’s adoption for the 2012 draft. The other two unsigned college players were Mark Appel (2012) and Kyle Funkhouser (2015).

Appel returned to Stanford and became the first overall pick of the 2013 draft. Funkhouser, picked 35th overall in 2015, returned to Louisville and was a fourth-round pick (115th overall) in the 2016 draft.

The other college first-rounders to go unsigned since 2000 include 2010 sixth overall pick Barrett Loux, who was declared a free agent by MLB after the D-Backs declined to offer him a contract after he underwent his medical exam in 2008.

Aaron Crow, the ninth pick in 2008, opted to sign with independent Fort Worth after he failed to sign. He was the 12th pick overall in the 2009 draft.

Wade Townsend, the eighth pick in 2004, returned to Rice. He was the eighth pick overall again the following year as he was picked and signed with the Rays.

Going Back To The Draft
Here's a look at what happened for the seven previous first rounders who declined to sign since the current draft format was adopted in 2012.
YearPickPlayerPositionTeam
Result For Player
20188Carter StewartRHPBraves
Signed with Japan's Fukuoka Softbank Hawks
201825Matt McLainSSD-Backs
2021 1st round (17th overall) to Reds
201830J.T. GinnRHPDodgers
2020 2nd round (52nd overall) to Mets
201535Kyle FunkhouserRHPDodgers
2016 4th round (115th overall) to Tigers
20141Brady AikenLHPAstros
2015 1st round (17th overall) to Indians
201310Phil BickfordRHPBlue Jays
2014 1st round (18th overall) to Giants
20128Mark AppelRHPPirates
2013 1st round (1st overall) to Astros
Who They Picked Instead
Here's a look at who teams picked with their compensatory picks for failing to sign first round picks since the current draft format began in 2012.
YearTeamPickPlayerPosition
2019Braves9Shea LangeliersC
2019D-Backs26Blake WalstonLHP
2019Dodgers31Michael Busch2B
2016Dodgers36Jordan SheffieldRHP
2015Astros2Alex BregmanSS
2014Blue Jays11Max PentecostC
2013Pirates9Austin MeadowsOF



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