Astros sign No. 41 pick Lance McCullers for double slot value at $2.5 million

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Part of the Astros’ strategy in drafting Carlos Correa with the No. 1 overall pick was their ability to sign him to a below-slot bonus and use the savings to snag a tough-to-sign player later.

That player turned out to be high school right-hander Lance McCullers, who was considered a top-20 prospect based on talent alone but fell to the No. 41 pick due to signability issues.

Houston’s strategy worked, as they inked Correa for $4.8 million compared to the $7.2 million slot for the top pick and have now used the savings to sign McCullers for twice the slot amount for the No. 41 pick.

Jim Callis of Baseball America reports that McCullers agreed to a $2.5 million deal, compared to the slot amount of $1.25 million. Obviously the debate over whether the Astros made the right call with Correa will rage on for years to come, but in passing on Byron Buxton and Mark Appel they were able to add McCullers as a second high-upside pick.

Adrian Beltre cleared for extended spring training

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Adrian Beltre has been on the disabled list all year because of nagging right calf strain, but he’s about to take a big step toward getting back to action.

Beltre has been cleared to begin playing in extended spring training games. He’ll commence them tomorrow at the Rangers facility in Surprise, Arizona. After three games the team’s doctors will reevaluate him. If things go well, he’ll likely be sent off for a full minor league rehab assignment.

Joey Gallo has filled in for Beltre all season, bringing a lot of power but not much else to the table. While Beltre is 38, his all-around game would be welcomed back on the field and his leadership would be welcomed back in the Rangers clubhouse. On a personal note, Beltre is only 58 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.

Barring a setback, he’ll be back with the big club in early June and will hit the milestone eventually.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.