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MLB slows Bucs’ talks with draft picks

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GM Neal Huntington said contract talks with several of the team’s unsigned draft picks “have hit a little bit of a wall.” Some of the turbulence is coming from the commissioner’s office, which is unhappy the Pirates want to pay over slot. “(MLB) can’t stop us from doing it, but there is a process we’re trying to be respectful of,” Huntington said.” We still feel optimistic we’re going to get these deals done. It’s going to cost us some dollars and those dollars might end up costing us another player who we can’t sign.”

The Pirates have until Aug. 17 to sign draft picks, but Huntington wants to have most, if not all, of the deals done well in advance. “Typically, the players have believe that if you wait until 11:59 p.m. (at the deadline), you get more money,” he said. “Because of our process this year, because we’ve given ourself so many options, we’re not locked into just two, three or four players. We want to move well before the Aug. 17 deadline. If Player A won’t sign for what we believe is his value, we’re going to go to Player B and Player C. We won’t be held hostage by any single player.”

The contract offer to Miguel Sano, the top amateur player in the Dominican Republic, will not affect the budget for draft picks. “We’re still approaching those as if they’re independent entities,” Huntington said. “We’ve got a fixed dollar figure for the draft and we’re going to try to maximize that. We’ve got a fixed figure for international (signings). A Sano contract would be an exemption that Bob (Nutting) has given the ability to pursue.”

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