No deal for Mark Appel and the Pirates

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Pirates first round draft pick Mark Appel is going back to college. Because he and Pittsburgh failed to reach a deal by today’s deadline.

The eighth overall pick had seemed like a signing longshot for some time. In large part because he was originally expected to be the first overall pick before his hometown Houston Astros passed on him after he declined a $6 million bonus before the draft.  That was not the maximum the Astros could have give him. They could have gone to $7.8 million in this new bonus-capped, hard-slotted world in which we now operate, but the ‘Stros obviously didn’t think he was worth it.

Enter the Pirates, who per the slot rules could have given Appel around $3.8 million or so. Maybe a bit more depending on what they did with later picks, but not much more.  Since negotiations began, this seemed like it was never going to happen. Appel wanted more and the Pirates would be forced to surrender a first round pick in 2013 if they exceeded their draft bonus cap.

As Matthew noted earlier this week, Appel would seem to have a lot to lose by going back to school for his senior season. Unless he raises his draft stock for next year, he won’t stand to make any more and could slide down further. It’s early yet, but next year’s draft looks kind of weak so it’s possible. But of course, there’s always a risk of injury.

Scott Boras is Appel’s agent and he is on record as hating the bonus caps. I suppose he hoped to bust them with Appel, just like he has busted past attempts by the owners to curb bonuses. But it didn’t work this time. Or maybe his client was simply obstinate. Hard to say.  Either way, the Pirates don’t have their first round pick and Appel has to wait another year to start his march to the majors.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.