MLB’s new slotting system for draft pick signing bonuses seemingly doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for the negotiating shenanigans of past years, but leave it to Scott Boras to show otherwise.
Sixth overall pick Albert Amora hasn’t officially signed with an agent yet, but he’s being “advised” by Boras and predictably they’ve already made it known that he won’t sign with the Cubs for the $3.25 million slot bonus for where he was picked:
My main priority now is college. I just graduated high school and I have a full scholarship to the University of Miami, and that’s all I’m looking forward to right now.
But we’ll have to see what happens when it’s time. I’m ready to play in the major leagues. In my mind right now, I trust my opinions and I know what I can do on the field. That’s not the priority right now. The priority right now is we have to let the process play out and let the cards fall where they have to fall.
Obviously the Cubs wouldn’t have drafted Almora with the sixth overall pick if they truly felt he was headed to college, but the 18-year-old outfielder from Florida is trying to use whatever leverage he has to get a bigger chunk of the team’s overall bonus allotment of $7.9 million.
That money is supposed to cover all of the Cubs’ draft picks, not just Almora, but they could potentially give him more than the $3.25 million set aside for the No. 6 pick and then find a way to pinch pennies with other players.
One nice thing about the changes to the draft process is that the new signing deadline is mid-July, rather than mid-August, so the negotiations can only drag on for a month.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.