MLB’s attempts at holding down draft pick bonuses again resulted in a wave of signings announced just after the midnight deadline. This year, all but one first-round pick, the Blue Jays’ Tyler Beede, got a deal done.
Top overall pick Gerrit Cole of the Pirates was one of 23 first-round picks to sign just prior to the deadline, agreeing to a deal with an $8 million bonus. Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen, the No. 2 overall pick by the Mariners, did just about as good, getting a major league deal worth $8.5 million over five years.
The Orioles’ Dylan Bundy received a four-year major league deal worth $6.25 million. He was the fourth overall pick. No. 5 pick Bubba Starling, an outfielder who had the option of playing quarterback for Nebraska, received a $7.5 million bonus from the Royals. No. 6 pick Anthony Rendon got a major league deal worth $7.4 million from the Nationals.
(Trevor Bauer, the third overall selection by the Diamondbacks, was the only top-nine pick to sign prior to Monday’s deadline. He got a major league deal worth about $7 million on July 25.)
The biggest surprises Monday were that the Pirates managed to sign 61st overall pick Josh Bell and that the Nationals got a deal done with their third-round pick, Matt Purke. Bell, who told teams not to draft him because he was planning to go to the University of Texas, was viewed as a mid-first-round talent. He got a top-10-type bonus of $5 million. Purke, a first-round pick by the Rangers out of high school, entered 2011 as a likely top-five overall pick, only to slip because of arm problems. He fell in the draft, too, but the Nationals inked him to a major league deal worth $4.4 million.
Besides Beede, the 21st overall selection, only one other top-60 pick failed to sign. That was supplemental first-rounder Brad Austin, a catcher taken 54th by the Padres.
Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun had three more years of arbitration eligibility left, but he and the Angels decided to settle that future business at once on Wednesday, agreeing to a three-year extension worth $26 million, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The contract also includes a $14 million club option for the 2020 season.
Calhoun, 29, has been a dependable right fielder for the Angels over the last three seasons, batting an aggregate .266/.327/.436 with 61 home runs and 216 RBI in 1,895 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, Calhoun has been the ninth-most valuable right fielder in baseball since the start of the 2014 season with 11.4 Wins Above Replacement. He ranks slightly behind Giancarlo Stanton (11.9) and just ahead of J.D. Martinez (10.9).
The Angels only have a handful of players signed beyond the 2017 season — just Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Andrelton Simmons, and Calhoun. The club has options on Ricky Nolasco and Huston Street, while many others will be eligible for arbitration.
Nothing is happening as the baseball world waits four more hours for the Hall of Fame announcement. Question: why do it at 6pm? For MLB Network ratings? Let’s be real, there are “Golden Girls” reruns on third-tier basic cable that are gonna draw a bigger audience. Why not announce it now so people can get on with their lives? Oh well.
As we wait, let’s take a look in at Twitter, where Jim Bowden of ESPN passes along the rumor that the Washington Nationals are still interested in signing Matt Wieters and Greg Holland:
Great to know that the Nats’ baseball operations budget is dictated by its capital expenditures. Maybe they shoulda been smart like the Braves and suckered — er, I mean negotiated the local government to pay more for it? GO BRAVES!
Anyway, Bryce Harper had a response to that:
I take that to mean that he’d take the money used to construct the team store and give to Wieters and Holland. I haven’t seen the budget breakdown for the new spring training facility, but that would probably mean a major pay cut for Wieters and Holland. And where would we buy our “Make Baseball Great Again” caps? Think ahead, Bryce. Play the long game here.