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 big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.
Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.
President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.
Rangers reliever Jake Diekman will have surgery on January 25 to help alleviate ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. As a result, the lefty will miss at least half of the 2017 regular season, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Diekman was diagnosed with the illness when he was 11 years old. He has brought awareness to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America with a “Gut It Out” campaign.
Diekman, who turns 30 years old on Saturday, finished the 2016 campaign with a 3.40 ERA and a 59/26 K/BB ratio in 53 innings. He came to the Rangers from the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade on July 31, 2015.
The Rangers and Diekman avoided arbitration last Friday, agreeing to a $2.55 million salary for the 2017 season.