When the Blue Jays drafted California high school right-hander Phil Bickford with the 10th overall pick last month Baseball America noted that he “could be a tough sign away from Cal State Fullerton.”
And now with the signing deadline 24 hours away Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports after speaking to general manager Alex Anthopoulos that the team “does not expect to sign” Bickford. Toronto radio announcer Mike Wilner adds that it’s “not about money,” suggesting that Bickford simply chose college over starting his professional career.
The recommended slot bonus for the No. 10 pick is $2.9 million, so assuming the Blue Jays were offering Bickford anything close to that he’s making a very bold choice to turn it down. And the Blue Jays will get the No. 11 pick in next year’s draft as compensation if he doesn’t sign.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.