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Boras: Pirates could have offered Appel more

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Could the Pirates have done more to sign Mark Appel?

And would it have been worth it?

We won’t fully know the answer to the second question for a long time based on a lot of variables. But a phone call from Scott Boras over the weekend reminded me that the correct answer to the first question is a resounding yes.

As Boras put it, “It depends on how much you value a one-one talent.”

That’s draft lingo for first round, first pick, which is how some — though not all — publications had rated the big Stanford righty going into this draft, and how most already are labeling him for 2013. No one puts Appel in the category of, say, Stephen Strasburg or even Gerrit Cole, but there is a consensus for now that he’s the best player available in this draft class or the next. Let’s work with that.

In the moments after the 5 p.m. deadline passed without the Pirates signing Appel, Neal Huntington issued this statement, in part: “Our final offer exceeded the available bonus-pool money and was essentially up to the last dollar we could offer prior to falling into the second-tier penalty which would have resulted in the loss of a first-round draft selection.”

Technically speaking, Huntington is right. The amount the Pirates had left to spend to offer Appel was $3.8 million. That was miles short of the $6 million Appel had been hoping to land all along.

But the reason the Pirates were down to $3.8 million was that they decided to spend a big chunk of the $6.56 million they were allotted for the top 11 picks (top 10, plus the compensation round) on nine of those other 10 guy, as well as some over-slot in later rounds that works against this pool. Most of the top 11 guys, surprisingly, were signed very quickly. It’s almost as if the team wanted to send Boras a message right away that it wasn’t going to come close to setting aside the $6 million Appel wanted.

Well, message received.

Let’s say the Pirates would have just signed outfielder Barrett Barnes, their supplemental pick, for his $1 million and left the rest of the class alone. In other words, pay for just the two big-ticket items, and pretty much nothing else.

Would Appel still have considered signing for, says, $5.5 million or so?

The impression I got from Boras is that he would have at least strongly considered it.

So the real issue here is whether or not the Pirates would have been better off signing Appel and Barnes, or signing the nine guys that they did. Again, only time will tell on that, depending on how all of them fare down the road.

But, as Boras cited, the Nationals took the former approach. They drafted pitcher Lucas Giolito 16th overall and knew it would cost above-slot to sign him, a challenge within a small $4.5 million bonus pool. GM Mike Rizzo recognized that right away and essentially restructured the way Washington would handle the rest of its draft. Players the Nats knew could be had for slot or less were taken in the rest of the top 10 rounds, all of them were still wrapped up, and Giolito still signed for $2.93 million.

It was an effective tactical adjustment to the new draft system.

The Pirates, went into rounds 2-10 operating mostly business as usual, though there were a couple of very inexpensive players they took late in that sequence. The Pirates and Nats ended up with a similar amount of free money, but the Nats knew they didn’t have to come up with nearly as much to get their first-rounder.

Who did it right?

I’ll say it a third time: Time will tell.

But I’ll also repeat something I’ve written consistently for years now: Teams like the Pirates need to acquire elite talent through the draft and Latin America. It’s not optional. It’s the only place that can realistically happen. Generally speaking, the caliber of talent you find in rounds 2-10, you can find later in those players’ careers at low acquisition cost. They’re a dime a dozen. All you have to do is look at all of the Huntington/Greg Smith drafts for proof.

Appel and Barnes were judged by the Pirates themselves to be their best talents taken. Maybe that should have been the priority.

UPDATE 5:49 p.m.: For those still discussing how much the Pirates could or couldn’t have offered Appel, let me break it down in only the most EXTREME reality of paying Appel the ABSOLUTE MAX without giving up a draft pick. I just spoke with a Pirates official, and the above information is correct.

The Pirates’ pool for the top 10 (plus a comp) picks is $6.56 million. Let’s say they take Appel, then realize it’s going to take about $6 million to sign him. From there, they could — and I’m not suggesting this would be intelligent — draft 10 college seniors and pay each of them the minimum $5,000. They also wouldn’t be able to go over $100,000 on any picks after that.

Yes, I know it’s implausible. Stay with me.

That gets you down to $6.5 million left in that pool. Now, let’s say Barnes signs for $1 million. You’re at $5.5 million that can be given to Appel.

You pretty much punt on the rest of the top 11, then work off your draft board for the rest of the rounds.

Is it ideal?

That depends on how you view Appel, Barnes and the rest of the pool.

Is it possible?


6:05: You’ll also find an edit up in the main part regarding the Nationals. I totally misunderstood something Boras had said about the Nats and have changed it to reflect accurately. My apologies on that portion.

But the primary scenario involving the numbers and the dollars is wholly accurate.


  1. Matthew says:

    I could be wrong on this, but I thought that a team that failed to sign a pick in the first ten rounds lost that slot amount from its overall budget. So, the suggestion of signing Barnes and offering Appel $5.5 million doesn’t seem possible – they’d lose all of the slot money for rounds 2-10 and go way over slot on the first two guys. Now, perhaps they could have negotiated tougher with the later-round guys and reduce their bonuses, but they couldn’t have just written them off all together.

    DK: The numbers are estimates, Matt, as the team is permitted to go above its allotted bonus space to an extent while simply paying a tax. Go too far, and it’s forfeiture of picks.

  2. JMB says:

    As DK wrote, time will tell.

    If Appel blows out his arm at Stanford, then he would have been a ticking time bomb, and NH will be a genius.

    If Appel signs with the Cubs next year for say $5mm and kicks our tails for the next ten years (and none of our other draft picks in ’12 amount to anything), then NH won’t look so smart.

  3. Matt says:

    Even if they offered something over 5 million at the expense of the rest of their draft, Boras still said he would only consider it. Not worth the risk that he still turns us down and we sign literally no one out of our draft pool. Not worth the potential to deal with a disaster like that. NH handled the situation right in my opinion.

    DK: That would have to be pre-arranged before all the other picks were signed. That’s the point there.

  4. JohninOshkosh says:

    No time off allowed for the Fourth Estate. Thanks for this.

  5. pipecock says:

    Honestly, there is a lot about MLB’s money that is ridiculous. But this new draft slotting crap is completely asinine. Something needs to be done to make this draft like the NBA and NFL drafts. Declare, give up amateur eligibility, and let the money fall in order as the best players are taken in the order of their skill. To have. Draft where NONE of this happens is just stupid.

  6. Will says:

    Matthew is right. If the Pirates wanted to offer Appel $5.5 million, they would have had to draft players in round 2-10 that would sign for a lot less than slot to come up with an estimated extra $2 million. That means the Pirates would have to bet their entire draft on Appel. Failure to sign a pick in rounds 1-10 means the assigned money for that pick disappears from a team’s total bonus pool. I don’t blame the Pirates one bit and would have done everything the same.

  7. millec311 says:

    Yes, Matt and Will are right… If the Bucs wanted to offer Appel 5.5 million, they would have had to pick college seniors in rounds 2-10 that would sign for 10 thousand dollars or so.

  8. JRay3 says:

    I disagree that maybe that should have been a priority to just sign Appel and Barnes. The system was changed to get away from the exorbitant bonuses that were being paid. The Pirates were one of the teams that took full advantage of that and I think the new system hurts them. Others say it was meant to target and hurt Boras, so in year one Boras does not win with the Pirates approach.

    If Appel truly wanted to play MLB and start his career 3.8 M should be plenty for a player with that motivation, if he truly is that good he will make plenty more millions in future contracts. Without proving a thing he feels he is worth double that? No thanks. The system slots what his pick was worth and the Pirates offered nearly a million more. I want players that truly love the game and want to play, Appel showed his interests and priorities are a little different.

    I wish in my career somebody would offer that kind of money for not proving anything, the real world is a very different place Mr. Appel, so good luck to you in your senior year and maybe you will be picked third or higher next year to make a little more than this year’s offer and you can start your career a year later.

    For the Bucs I will enjoy having the ninth pick and another first rounder in 2013 and get players that have the hunger to play prop baseball and start their career.

  9. Justin says:

    To pull that off, Dejan, they’d have to put all leverage in Boras’ hands. Not a very smart strategy. Too much uncertainty – especially when Boras won’t even start his negotiations until right before the deadline.

    You are correct they need elite talent. You are correct time will tell. But that doesn’t seem like a wise position to put themselves in. A better question in hindsight would be whether they should have just passed on Appel like the other teams, given the stupid new draft rules.

    DK: I agree with your last point, but to your first: The Pirates put all the leverage in Boras’ hands the moment they drafted Appel.

  10. JUCOFan says:

    1. The new draft rules are horrible for the Pirates in all ways EXCEPT the pocketbook. Thus no outrage from the Bucs front office.

    2. The Pirates should have drafted someone else. Big tactical mistake and too high risk. I hope they can get someone decent next year but what a shame to leave a first round pick on the table this year.

  11. manny _sanguine says:

    If they took the approach of putting all their eggs in Appel’s basket and, after “strong consideration”, Appel decided that he really needed that extra 500k after all and turned 5.5 down then all you’d have to show for the draft is Barrett Barnes – sorry Mr. Boras that’s not a risk worth taking especially since that pick was protected. I think they did about the best they could under the current rules. Personally I’d rather they just be allowed to spend 6 mill on the guy if they feel he’s worth it.

    BUT I would really like to see draft spending rules tied to overall spending. If you go over a certain thresh hold on ML salaries you have limitations and penalties imposed on draft spending. That way the richest teams can spend obscene amounts on free agents if they choose to but they can’t also pour endless money into the draft without severe consequences. And don’t penalize low revenue teams for trying to build from within through smart investments in the draft ala your PIttsburgh Pirates. Not exactly a level playing field but it gives clever low rev teams a chance to be more competitive.

  12. Greenfield Geezer says:

    Three of NH’s picks toward the end of the top ten were college kids signed for peanuts, so he did build a little buffer into the draft. It’s pretty self-serving for Boras to claim the eighth pick is a one-one talent; more likely he wanted to one-up Kevin Gausman’s $4.32M bonus, gotten through The Legacy Agency.

    He used basically the same tactics, though, to get a nice bonus for prep star Albert Almora at the wire and inked five other first rounders. Apparently his tactic against the new CBA is to disrupt the draft strategy, sacrificing depth for a couple of elites. Pittsburgh wasn’t the only team that used some of their top ten picks for college seniors to build a little pot for the early round players and overslot picks. It’ll be interesting to see how the cat-and-mouse evolves around the new rules for both sides.

  13. Leife says:

    I believe this kid never had any intention on signing for anything less than top pick money. Boras knew this and he took this opportunity to let the rest of MLB know that if you don’t use your whole pool for his younger players they will go to (back to) school. I also believe it will come down to teams only signing there top pick for anything over peanuts. This new draft may have screwed a lot of non-first round talent.

  14. Mike C. says:

    if the MLB is scared of a cap, at least put one on the rookies, like the NBA.
    no hold outs, no scary agents, simple without the mess.

    And I don’t regret at all not being able to sign Appel. 2 1st rounds picks next year (9th and a pretty late one i’m hoping), and from all reports i’ve read/heard, including K Law, next year’s draft class is much stronger that this year’s.

  15. Naje says:


    This is absolutely nothing we don’t already know. A little sensational here… nice job getting Boras’ quotes in front of us, but this isn’t anything we didn’t already know.

    And this isn’t Scott Boras’ team… it’s the Pittsburgh Pirates. And the Pirates do not have to bow to his every wish. Apparently Boras and Appel were very clearly in the minority about his 1/1 status… or perhaps the duo attached a worth that far exceeded the reality of the constructs of the CBA and getting chose 1/1. At some point, Boras and Appel have to play within the rules too.

    Either way, again, this is nothing we didn’t already know. And you don’t build a franchise with 1 elite talent (the team has a few of those who are currently pitchers as well) when you can build competition throughout the organization with a bunch of good ballplayers.

  16. Brian says:

    Matt, Will, and millec311 are right. The only way to put together an offer that’s way above slot is to SIGN everyone else below slot. If those players in the 2nd-10th rounds don’t get signed, those slots’ values are subtracted from the pool.
    Thus, the Pirates could NOT have offered $5 million without losing draft picks unless they signed those other 9 picks for a total of $1.2 million less. It’s not enough to not sign them, the Pirates would have had to get them to sign for considerably less money.

    And Mike C: FYI Keith Law has recently been very strongly stating his opinion that next year’s draft class is weaker.

  17. Brian says:

    But anyway, Dejan, if Boras made it seem to you like the Pirates could only sign Barnes for $1.13 million and give $5.5 million to Appel without losing a draft pick, then either Boras or Jim Callis is completely wrong about how the system works.

  18. MattyG says:

    I mean, sure, you could sign a ton of guys way below their slot to add extra cash to your allotment in order to offer Appel $6MM, but if I recall correctly didn’t Appel tell Houston he would not accept their $6.6MM first overall offering? If you take him at his word there, then you’re simply signing a bunch players not worth their selection, just to take a CHANCE to sign Appel, who doesn’t even project above Gerrit Cole. At least to me, that doesn’t seem like a smart way to go. Screw over your farm system, and you cheat yourself from a pick next year in a draft that has a chance to get you a player more highly regarded than Appel.

    Good for Huntington. Boras is right the Pirates could have done more, but there are other costs involved that make it too expensive.

  19. Thundercrack says:

    Would Appel still have considered signing for, says, $5.5 million or so?

    The impression I got from Boras is that he would have at least strongly considered it.

    Sure they would have. And lets give Boras even more leverage. Maybe they should have more strongly considered $3.8

  20. T.S. says:

    Pirates’ scout watching Upton at Wrigley this weekend.

  21. Thundercrack says:

    Who did it right?
    I’ll say it a third time: Time will tell.

    Appel and Barnes were judged by the Pirates themselves to be their best talents taken. Maybe that should have been the priority.

    So will time tell, or should it have been a higher priority…maybe ?

  22. Will says:

    Upton’s road splits are very bad. He has a huge advantage of playing at Chase Field where the ball flies with the open roof. On the road he’s below average.

  23. Thundercrack says:

    If the Pirates would have signed Appel for $3.8 million wouldn’t they have paid a ‘tax’?
    (is that what Huntington said on his radio show today?)

    It was still over the slot number. And they may have paid a tax.

    I guess time will tell if this new system hurt Appel, the Pirates, or both.

  24. Bob says:

    Hey DK…Appel wasn’t a 1.1 talent. Apparently he was only a 1.8 talent because that’s where he went. Boras screwed his client and now he’s trying to spin this at the cost of the Pirates. I guess he shouldn’t have turned down that $6 million that the Astros offered pre-draft.

  25. Vette60 says:

    Hi Folks.

    So, I was listening to the MLB network on SiriusXM and the hosts were talking about the Pirates not signing Appel and the general gist of the conversation was that this was a “message” to the rest of MLB that Boras’ clients will ONLY sign above slot and also a way that Boras was looking to drive his clients to the “premiere” teams in the league that draft lower in the first round.

    For example, Appel doesn’t sign with the Bucs and goes back into next years draft. Boras spreads the word that Appel will sign, but it is for above slot – $6M. So, this causes all the teams with the “high” picks in the draft to lay off and allow Appel to drop to team at the end of the 1st round, like the Yankees. Boras talks to Cashman and says that, hey, Appel will sign for $6M and the Yanks give up the next years pick and sign the 1-1 talent. Why not give up essentially a late round pick for a 1-1. Now this only works if the Yanks are consistently drafting in that slot. Hmmm…

    Does this work? I don’t know, but that’s what the hosts were selling.

    I am very much ok with the Buccos not signing Appel and taking their chances with next years draft – do they need to sign their picks – yes, but they need to manage their risks associated and going way above slot and giving up next years pick may not be worth it.

    To me, this whole system seems kinda silly.

    Take care,
    Randy in Richmond, VA

    PS. That #22 for the Bucs is pretty good!

  26. JUCOFan says:

    Some really good points made here, e.g. Boras’ tactic to disrupt the draft slotting system? MLB may have underestimated the impact on rounds 2-10. it reminds me of unintentional consequences of government intervention into the free market.

    Also like Manny’s point about tying the draft pool to overall spending. It would be nice to allow the small market clubs some advantage to building and developing talent.

    But thrpe best point may be that the Pirates should have been prepared to offer $5.5M (by drafting lesser talents in rds 2-10) or drafted someone else. I We lost the game of chicken albeit with a pick that was protected.

  27. Brian says:

    Dejan, I know you’re saying that these numbers are estimates, but according to what Jim Callis has said about how the system works, the numbers are completely wrong. If the Pirates had signed Barrett Barnes for $1.13 mil and signed NO ONE else, then the amount they could spend on Appel without losing a draft pick would be even less than what they offered him ($2,938,220 if the numbers I’ve read on slot values are correct).

    DK: No, that’s not right. See my answer to another comment above, Brian.

  28. Brian says:

    I only see your comment about the team being able to go over and pay a tax. I included that in my calculations. The Pirates can spend up to their allotment, plus 5%.

  29. Chris says:

    So, Pirates should draft only below slot players for 10 rounds (except Barnes) just to get Appel to “strongly consider” it? – No thanks. As it is, Pirates offered more over slot than Nats gave Giloito. So that argument seems off. Boras is trying to figure out the system to his advantage and Appel is the guinea pig. He hopes to slide up in next years draft since none of the remaining top players chose not to sign. We’ll see if his plans work, if Boras clients keep dropping to teams willing to forgo the rest of the draft for one Boras client, that means more high end talent for the rest of the teams.

  30. Brian says:

    The reason that the strategy employed by the Nats worked was only because they succeeded in signing later picks for under slot, but it’s extremely important that those players actually signed. No signature means all of that slot money is subtracted from the pool, and CANNOT be used for any other players.

  31. Chris says:


    Brian is right. You do not get the slot values unless you sign the players. Your statement of “Let’s say the Pirates would have just signed outfielder Barrett Barnes, their supplemental pick, for his $1.13 million and left the rest of the class alone.” is causing some confusion, because if you do not sign rounds 2-10 you do not get their bonus money to put towards other picks.

    What you would have to do is draft only college seniors in rounds 2-10 who will sign for 5k each.

  32. RyanP44 says:

    Continuation of Twitter conversation –

    To me Appel and Giolito are apples and oranges here. Every mock draft that I saw had Appel going top 5. I don’t think the Pirates had any idea that Appel would fall to them so they would have no reason to work out a predraft deal with Boras. Then once he fell, it would have been hard to work up a deal with him while they were making their other picks. Too risky, still have to acquire the best talent possible.

    On the other hand, Giolito had an injury risk and was rumored to be falling in the draft. It’s very possible that Boras knew this and talked to the Nationals about this possible pre-draft deal with them because of his apparent cozy relationship with the Nationals.

    I think the Pirates did the best they could by going after the best talent available. They hoped Appel was bluffing. He wasn’t. Oh well.

    DK: And to answer the question you asked over there, Ryan, the answer is yes. EVERY conversation I have with EVERYONE will have an impact. I’m never going to play the role of ivory-tower columnist where I don’t pursue and welcome input of all kinds, including from readers.

    I can’t go any higher up the food chain for information on Appel than Boras. I shared with you his view and shared a couple of my own in relation to that.

    If you’d rather I come up with a view, then stick stubbornly to it without ever talking to people, you’ll ALWAYS be disappointed with my work.

    Oh, and I definitely did not appreciate the “brainwashed” remark.

  33. Brian says:

    I understand the premise of what your proposing is to take Appel, Barnes, and then a bunch of college seniors and essentially “punt” picks in rounds 2-10 to save up on your bonus pool. The only problem I see with doing this is, what if Appel STILL doesn’t sign?

    In allocating nearly 4 million for Appel the Pirates gave him a fair offer. For comparisons sake Kevin Gausman who was selected 4th overall got exactly 4 million, and the Orioles were rumored all along to have had Gausman above Appel on their big board. The Pirates took the best player on the board in a weak draft who had overvalued himself. He is not a 1.1 talent, as he probably would have barely been the 3rd best prospect in the system, and struggled to have been a top 50 or so prospect in baseball. He likely would have been taken below Cole, Dylan Bundy, Danny Hultzen, Trevor Bauer, Anthony Rendon, and Archie Bradley if he was in last years class instead of this years.

    Had the Pirates “punted” their other picks and failed to sign him, this draft would have been a disaster. Instead they end up with a potential 5 tool center fielder, the best catching prospect in our system, two interesting shortstop prospects, and several prep pitchers, and were still able to make a respectable offer to Appel. They also get a comp pick next year, and if they can get a good choice from the competitive balance lottery they should have one of the biggest pools in all of baseball next year.

    My point is this, unless you are POSITIVE, Appel signs, they made the right choice. I would also argue that Barnes, Wyatt Matheison, Jon Sandfort, Kevin Ross, and others + the 9th pick next year may be much more valuable than just Appel and Barnes would be for a team who has several high end prospects, and very little depth after their first 10 or 12 prospects.

  34. DemonDachshund says:

    If that’s the extent to which Boras was involved in negotiations (getting teams to structure their drafts to create space for his guy), it’s just a bit absurd that they can refer to him as an “advisor” when in reality he is acting as a full blown agent.

  35. RyanP44 says:

    The brainwashed comment was mainly a joke. I was going to put #joking in the post, but decided against it. Sorry about that.

    Would you agree though that the Appel and Giolito situations were different?

  36. Chris says:

    I don’t think Giolito was represented by Boras.

  37. RyanP44 says:

    Then I’m mistaken about Boras and Giolito; I thought that is what Dejan was saying. Must have misread it.

    But Bucs Dugout makes a good argument that the Pirates did the same thing as the Nationals.

    DK: That’s hardly a safe place to go for accurate portrayals of what I’ve written.

  38. Corey says:



    Your larger point stands — the Pirates *could* have offered Appel more money — but I’m quite sure this is the most error-filled piece of yours I’ve ever read.

    1.) As multiple people have already pointed out, slot money for unsigned picks is forfeited — making the speed of their signing irrelevant. Had they forgone signing their other 10 picks from the top 10 rounds, they could have offered Appel only the $2.9 million slot value without incurring penalties. Had they signed only Appel and Barnes (who signed for $136,400 under slot), they could’ve offered $3,036,400 without penalties or up to $3,238,119 if they were willing to pay up to $151,365 in luxury taxes on top of that . . . i.e. much less than the $3.8 million they offered him.

    2.) The Pirates did *not* draft the top player available in each of the first 10 rounds. 7 of the 9 players they signed, agreed to under-slot deals (including 5 of their 6 picks between rounds 5-10). None of their 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th round picks were ranked among the top 500 prospects by Baseball America, and all signed for around $100K under slot (including bonuses of $5K or $10K to college seniors drafted in rounds 7, 9, and 10).

    3.) Appel was *not* the consensus top talent in this draft. That was Byron Buxton. Both Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Appel 4th.

    4.) The Pirates may not have negotiated upfront with Boras like the Nats reportedly did, but their overall drafting strategy was *not* hugely different. They signed the remainder of their top 10 picks for $617,600 under slot; the Nats signed theirs for $687,700 under slot.

    Now, had the Pirates done everything (short of sacrificing future draft picks) to maximize Appel’s bonus (i.e. drafted 10 college seniors and paid them each $5K, drafted nobody from round 11 onward who commanded a bonus over $100K, and paid the luxury tax for going just under 5% over their bonus pool), they could’ve offered Appel $6,839,174 (which, presumably, would’ve been enough to sign him). So, both you and Appel are right — they hypothetically *could* have done more to raise Appel’s bonus. Though, of course, they would’ve paid an exceedingly steep price for doing so (almost $250K in luxury tax, and likely no major league talent in rounds 1s-40).

    Also, keep in mind that no other team paid their first round pick more than $800K over slot (and no college player >$300K over slot), while the Pirates offered Appel $900K over slot. And that only one player signed for over $5 million (and no college player signed for even $4.4 million).

    Would it have been better to sacrifice everything and put all the team’s eggs in the Appel basket? You’re right that only time will tell — if Appel turns into the next Verlander while the Pirates’ other 40 picks this year and #9 pick next year amount to squat, they’ll probably wish they’d done so. But it would have been both an *enormous* risk and an enormous deviation from how the Nats and every single other team handled the draft.

  39. Jake says:

    As has been said, to get Appel, Pirates would’ve had to basically sign 9 college seniors to clear enough money for one player.

    Also, GIolito is a poor example. Nationals only had to clear about $800K to get from slot to asking price. Pirates would have to clear $3 million.

    And to say Appel and was the consensus # talent coming in is false as well. Neither Baseball America nor Keith Law had him as the best player in the draft.

  40. Brian says:


    Not to belabor this point too much, but here is Alex Speier that explains the rules as I understand them:

    “If a team doesn’t sign a pick in the top 10 rounds, it “forfeits” that slot in its bonus pool. So, if the Red Sox do not sign their second first-round pick (No. 31 overall), their pool would be diminished by the $1.575 million slot for that pick.”

    The confusion caused by the rules could be seen on July 9 when ESPN’s Jason Churchill and Baseball America’s Jim Callis interpreted them completely differently on the same day:

    Churchill here states that since Brandon Thomas and Kevin Ross were not signed, the Pirates could offer Appel all of THEIR slot money, plus the 5% overage, for a total of $4.3 million.

    Callis here states that, regardless of what happens with Thomas and Ross, the Pirates could only offer Appel $3,837,575.

    My understanding is that Callis is correct here, and that the Pirates can’t give money allotted to their 4th and 8th rounders to Appel unless those players sign for under slot. I’m still trying to read the new CBA to see if it’s spelled out more clearly there, but this is how I understand it now.

  41. Jake says:

    Brian, Callis is right. You have to sign the pick to get the slot money. Prevents teams from “punting” picks to save money.

  42. RyanP44 says:


    I wasn’t pointing it out for an accurate portrayal of your writing. Just pointing out his comparison of what the Bucs and Nationals did.

    DK: No, no, I understood. The shot was unilateral on my part. That place has become essentially an unwitting parody of itself, everything it professes to dislike. Just at the other extreme.

  43. Matt says:

    If it is Boras goal to get top dollars for his player doesn’t make sense to sign as quickly as possible while the money is still available? But that is not the way he operates, I would think that would hurt his players. If came to the Pirates and said 5 million gets it done, then they know how much to spend to the other picks.

  44. Tom says:


    You wrote:

    And the reason it is not at all similar to what the Pirates did is that Washington worked to the level by working with Boras on a known figure that would Giolito signed.

    Boras was not advising Giolito – CAA was. Did you mean that Washington worked with CAA in a way that Pittsburgh could have worked with Boras before the start of the second round of the draft? Did a rep from CAA (or Boras or someone else) tell you that CAA and the Nationals talked before the second round? Or is this just speculation on your part?


    DK: Tom, you’ll find a clarification above about Boras and the Nats. He DID have conversations with Mike Rizzo about the draft in general, as he does with a lot of teams. (Rizzo called Boras, in fact.) But it wasn’t specifically related to Giolito.

  45. JUCOFan says:

    Corey great post. The Pirates would have been better off passing on Appel. Lesson learned hopefully.

  46. ZumZum says:

    Since baseball is in the first year of the new CBA and draft rules, there seems to be a lot of confusion about the interpretation of the rules. However…
    Once the Astros passed on Appel after offering $6M? (amount still in dispute), you would have to figure that amount became the starting point for any discussions. Otherwise could Boras be possibly sued for his “advice” costing his client money? Also considering his past relationship with the Pirates, Boras may have been accused of collusion. If the Pirates were unwilling to meet his demands, they had no business drafting a college junior that had the option to return to Stanford.
    It appears that Boras was attempting to control where his client was drafted. If you are a perennial contender (Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, etc.), your team typically drafts in the mid to high twenties. Wouldn’t a team be willing to give up two #1s in that area of the draft for a 1-1? The Pirates possibly screwed up Boras’ plans by drafting Appel at #8.
    It is a shame that both parties could not reach a resolution. As much as some fans try to sugarcoat it, the Pirates are the only team out of 30 that could not sign their #1 pick. There is no guarantee that a similar talent will fall to #9 next year, The minor league system still desparately needs an infux of talent. Appel also loses a year of development and may regret it if the is injured next season. Hopefully Neal learns from his mistakes before the 2013 draft..

  47. Will says:

    DK: You’re still missing the point that the Pirates need to sign players in rounds 2-10 for cheap in order to offer Appel more money. The $6.56 million available is assuming all the picks sign. The fact that players signed quickly and for under slot actually made it possible to offer Appel more money. So “message received” was actually a message to Appel that said “look we’re saving 600k to give to you.”

    Boras would have to have told the Pirates before the 2nd round started that Appel would sign for $5.5 million (between the end of the supplemential round Monday and noon Tuesday morning back in June). Then the Pirates MUST have then drafted college seniors and signed them very cheap. This would have given the Pirates the extra bonus money to give Appel. Once the draft was over, there was not really anything the Pirates could do in order to increase the available money to Appel. The players the Pirates did draft and sign were going to demand the money they ended up signing for. This left the Pirates with a max of $3.8 million.

    DK: No, it’s not missing the point. I’m painting a scenario in which nine of these guys sign for the minimum $5,000. That prompts you to pick accordingly. In other words, you’d draft nine guys who basically would be thrilled just to be drafted.

    Makes kind of a mockery of the process, but teams learned how to beat the old system, and they’ll learn how to beat this one, too, when a talent far better than Appel comes along someday.

  48. Will says:

    Just saw the update.

    My personal opinion is I would have drafted Appel and stayed true to the board in the later rounds.
    Worst case scenario you get more quantity and have the 9th pick next year.

  49. Blaine says:

    I’m not all that knowledgeable about this system, so here are a some of the questions that are running through my head right now.

    How much more bargaining power can Appel actually have next year? As a 4th year senior, he’s pretty much going to be tied to slot money…or, more realistically, less…right? So, if he gets picked #1 overall next season and slot is $6M… what are his alternatives if a team offers $4.5M?

  50. Zadoras says:

    Dejan, I’ve admired your work in the past, but I’m baffled that this piece could have been written by someone with journalism training.

    First, there is what appears to be a critical factual error in who represented Giolito. You addressed the person who pointed it out, but I’m unable to find any sort of clarification in the blog post as it reads now.

    What is it about their pick of Appel that makes you think they should have put all their eggs in the same basket for him? The lack of enthusiasm he demonstrated when they signed him? His agent’s conduct during the Pedro Alvarez negotiations? The fact that seven other teams passed on him? We don’t know whether that was a talent evaluation or a signability concern, but doesn’t the fact that they did it tell you anything?

    Finally, where was your call to the Pirates to get their view? Was this “breaking news” so critical it could not wait long enough for you to be fair?

    I’m disappointed.

    DK: No need to be so dramatic. The update’s been up there for a while now, and the ONLY error was in my understanding about the nature of Boras’ conversation with Rizzo. That’s it. See above.

    Oh, and you completely misrepresent my stance on the whole thing, which was to do nothing more than raise the issue and pose a question. Check it again.

  51. Brian says:

    Dejan, thanks for the update. Enjoy your well-deserved vacation.

    DK: Thanks, Brian!

  52. Fat Jimmy says:

    What happened between yesterday and today where Mark Appel became a mega-elite talent worthy of pissing away your entire top 10 picks?

    If Appel would have signed, he’d be the number 3 pitching prospect in our system … just narrowly ahead of Heredia (and that on age and experience only).

  53. cherokee23 says:

    Blaine is right on! Why would any team offer him what he wants next year, slot value be damned!…..He will have absolutely no leverage!

  54. Brian says:

    Blane and cherokee23:

    Appel still has the option of signing with an independent league team after next year if he still doesn’t receive an amount of money that he deems appropriate.

    A recent example is Tanner Scheppers, who the Pirates drafted 48th overall in 2008 after his senior season. He felt that he deserved to be a 1st round pick, so he refused Pittsburgh’s offer and signed with the St. Paul Saints for the 2009 season. The following year, Scheppers was drafted slightly higher, at 44th overall. Scheppers then agreed to a $1.25 million signing bonus. Thus, it certainly doesn’t seem like Scheppers lost any bonus money by this strategy.

    However, every amateur player loses a little leverage from year to year, because the longer they wait to sign, the longer they’ll have to wait to get to their big free agency payday.

  55. cherokee23 says:

    I understand that. I just don’t see that being a realistic option. I think whoever drafts him next year should call his bluff again and offer him no more than 75% of slot value. If he wants to waste another year, I think that tells you a lot about the kind of competitor he is.

  56. Dcpinpgh says:

    Scheppers was hurt and was not fully healed by the 2008 draft. He showed he was healthy for the 2009 draft.

    Did Appel sign the waver to let the piratea draft him again next year?

  57. Brian says:


    I’d appreciate seeing that strategy, but I don’t think it’s likely. If he’s drafted high, a team is not going to want to give him up by low-balling him just to prove a point. Then sure, they don’t have to pay him, but they also don’t get that pick back. He won’t be drafted too low, because teams will be nervous that the strategy you outline will be utilized by someone else. Most teams would much rather slightly overpay than look stupid by having a team below them sign the player they wanted. (See: 2011 Boston Red Sox and Josh Bell.)

    So while I would really love to see what you said happen, and Appel gets significantly low-balled financially, it really doesn’t make sense for the team that drafts him, so it almost certainly won’t happen. Regardless of whether you think Independent League ball is a realistic option, the fact is that Boras DOES think it’s a realistic option, since he was representing Scheppers when he went that route.

    However, your point still stands that Appel will be much more likely to sign for something close to slot next year. Just don’t expect under-slot.

  58. Brian says:


    Scheppers was actually not healthy for the 2009 draft, which is why he dropped all the way to 44th. But you’re right that the injury concerns made that situation a little different.

    I’m not sure about how that “permission to draft” waiver situation works under the new CBA. I haven’t heard anything about it in the last couple days. If you see anything, link me, because I’m interested in finding that out too.

  59. Fat Jimmy says:

    Brian, part of what you’re missing is that teams do more than “prove a point” by getting a guy below slot. If whomever takes him next year offers him below slot money, they can use that leftover cash to sign other guys in the draft.

    BTW, what happens to Appel if he doesn’t sign next year? Does he go into the draft again or can he become a free agent in 2014?

  60. Brian says:

    Fat Jimmy:

    That is a great point, but that strategy only works if Appel actually signs. Certainly, if a team drafts Appel high next year, signs him for significantly under-slot, and uses the leftover money to give to tougher signs in lower rounds, count me among the people who will see them as geniuses. I just don’t foresee it happening.

    If Appel doesn’t sign next year, he goes into the draft again in 2014.

  61. Drew71 says:

    This is SORT of a sports post…and a public service for my fellow lunatics.

    NASCAR’s Ryan Newman finished in the Top 10 this week (see?), #10 in fact. One of his major sponsors, an Australian themed steakhouse which shall go nameless, gives away a Bloomin’ Onion on Mondays following races when Newman cracks the Top 10. All it requires is: mention Newman and the free deal when placing the order, and make another purchase.

    I work for an integrated healthcare delivery system. Lest you think I have forgotten our mission to improve the health of our community, please recall that somewhere beneath all that fried batter and grease lies a vegetable.


  62. Boise Bucco says:

    @Brian #54 — that point is pretty well proven, with more pitchers than Tanner Scheppers.

    Aaron Crow was drafted 1.9 by the Nationals in ’08, sat out, and went 1.12 to the Royals the next year. He’s currently in their bullpen with 0 career starts and 1 career win in 2 MLB seasons.

    Luke Hochevar is another pitcher that chose not to sign in ’05, ended up going #1 overall in ’06. Overall he’s 36-51 with a 5.27 ERA for the Royals.

    I guess my point is this: if the Bucs’ scouts thought that Appel was a “true” 1.1, like a Strasburg or even a Cole, they would’ve advised the Bucs that he was worth giving up their pick next year, or saving money from their pool to do anything to sign him. I’m not a scout, but I’d be pretty sure that the same people who scouted Strasburg and Cole had also scouted Appel, so they’d know first-hand how good he was.

    That said, I don’t feel too bad about the Bucs not signing Appel. It’d be nice to have him, but I’m glad they stuck by their guns.

  63. Brian says:

    Boise Bucco:

    I’m not talking about whether or not sitting a year out hurts future performance, I’m talking about whether or not sitting a year hurts the bonus a player gets. Crow lost a little money by sitting out, but still got $3 million guaranteed. Hochevar was offered $2.98 million in ’05, and then got $5.3 million guaranteed in ’06.

    So my point is this: if Appel thinks teams are low-balling him next year and he decides not to sign again, there’s ample precedent to suggest that he can still get a good payday the following year.

  64. cherokee23 says:

    The examples sited of guys not signing are from 2008 and 2005. At that time, i can understand them still having leverage the following year. There was virtually nothing preventing a team from meeting the drafted players demands. But under this new “collectively bargained” drafting/sloting system, there are stiff penalties involved in going significantly over slot. Under this system, I just can’t see any leverage being gained by Appel going back to school this year, or going independent next year.

  65. Brian says:


    You’re completely correct that Appel does not gain leverage. However, my point is that he doesn’t lose that much leverage. I agree with you that it would be extremely surprising if Appel gets a bonus of more than $5 million next year. But I also believe it would be extremely surprising if he agrees to a bonus of less than $2.75 million next year. He is NOT going to get what he was asking for this year, but he also is NOT going to agree to a horrifically low-ball offer. Earlier, you called for teams to offer him 75% of slot value, which would be roughly $2.2 million if his slot value is similar to this year. I can’t imagine that he’d agree to that.

  66. Brian says:

    I meant to say “earlier” instead of “early” there. Also, if “collectively-bargained” isn’t correct, then it should be.

  67. Boise Bucco says:

    @Brian, sorry I might have mis-understood your point…I’m in the middle of writing an Ethics paper and I’m doing everything I can to NOT write it…

    Appel could end up making out next year if the bonus pool gains significantly between this year and next year. The 1.1 pick this year was at $7.2M I think, and every other pick was a percentage of that. If MLB decides to raise the 1.1 bonus pool next year to closer to $9M, Appel could stand to make more money. That is, unless another Mark Appel comes along (or a Gerrit Cole or even a Pedro Alvarez…)

    Still, I don’t think the Bucs have anything to be unhappy about. We won’t see whether this gamble pays off for Appel for probably 5 years, and there’s no telling how the 2013 draft is going to play out, no matter who is evaluating it between now and then. 20-year-olds can do a lot of growing in a year, and having two picks could end up being pretty valuable if they pick well.

  68. cherokee23 says:

    Good stuff here! some questions to throw out there? What was slot value for first pick this year? Has anyone been able to confirm that Boras/Appel turned down 6 mil from Houston?

  69. Brian says:

    Boise Bucco:

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one procrastinating from work by thinking about subtleties of the new MLB collective bargaining agreement.

    And I also completely agree with you on that last point. I’m very pleased with the strategy the Pirates took.

  70. Link says:

    Another big difference between the Pirates situation and the Nationals situation is that the Nationals had a player who came to grips with his present reality and was willing to work with that. Giolito was in the running to be the first high school pitcher taken first overall and was reportedly looking for a $5M+ bonus. He had an injury and fell to the Nationals because teams didn’t want to pay up for that risk.

    Appel was in the running to go first ovearall, but his performance during his junior year left a lot of uncertainty. He fell to 3rd best prospect according to Baseball America and 4th best according to Keith Law (not the clear number one talent). He falls in the draft to the Pirates at number 9 and is offered a contract that is line with what the other top pitchers of the 2012 draft recieved and in line with his draft position. He felt that he should be paid more than everybody else despite the reality of his situation. He felt it was in his better interests to go back to school, earn a degree and try to get more money next year.

    Giolito could’ve done something similar by going the Juco route next year and re-entering next years draft but he decided to take a generous offer and start his professional career.

    I think the comparison between the 2 situations is a little tough to make. The Nationals had a player who signed for 138% of his slot. Appel wanted up to 200% of his slot. The Nationals didn’t have to completely blow up their draft to get their guy, but the Pirates would have had to blow up their draft to sign Appel.

  71. Brian says:


    Slot value for Houston’s #1 overall pick was $7.2 million. The Astros signed their #1 overall pick, Carlos Correa for only $4.8 million, far under value, and used the leftover money to sign Lance McCullers, who was a top-20 prospect thought to be a very tough sign. It’s hard to say their strategy didn’t work out.

    As far as the rumors that Boras and Appel turned down $6 mil from Houston, I don’t think anyone will officially be able to confirm that, because I think the MLB rules officially prohibit teams talking to players about contracts before the draft.

    According to Keith Law:
    “Teams repeatedly called players prior to the draft and gave them take-it-or-leave-it offers: Agree to sign for this dollar figure or we’ll draft someone else. Not only is this forbidden under Rule 3, which was the product of collective bargaining between the owners and the union, but it means that teams weren’t taking the best players available, but were taking the best players available who’d sign for their figures.”

  72. Drew71 says:

    If only Appel could play shortstop. I’d give him anything he wants.

  73. Brian says:

    Drew71, I believe in Alen Hanson! No SS we would have drafted this year is a better bet to make the big leagues sooner than Hanson.

  74. cherokee23 says:

    Thanks Brian. I didn’t realize top slot was that high. Great point, Link! On another note, I understand Marte sat out today. Anybody know anything about that?

  75. Eric Bowser says:

    For those that know me or anything about me, prepare to be shocked.

    The Pirates did nothing wrong.

    Even the attempt to ask the question whether the Pirates should have drafted Mark Appel and then followed up with nine players who have little right to be drafted ahead of those they picked, just because Scott Boras and Appel can’t play within the new rules is cheap.

    I understand Dejan’s job, he’s to get to the sources & ask the tough questions or provoke thought and conversation. His job isn’t to make nice with the Pirates or some segment of the fan base who think the team does nothing wrong.

    If the Pirates drafted nine players for signability and didn’t get Appel, imagine the response for that draft philosophy.

    Pirates did nothing wrong.

  76. Brian says:


    No clue about Marte, but that’s interesting. If it’s not injury-related, the possible explanations are that he’s being promoted to Pittsburgh, or he’s being traded. Jayson Stark reported earlier today that the Pirates are now a serious contender in the Justin Upton talks, and they have sent signals that they’d be willing to deal Marte to get Upton.

  77. Brian says:

    Just saw a CBSSports article that said Marte’s absence from the lineup is unrelated to Arizona. No trade yet.

  78. Juan Pizarro says:

    why do i continue to get th efeelingthe Appel/Boras vs MLB issue is not over. Can Boras still raise an issue with MLB over the Appel non-signing withMLB (similarto what de did with Pedro post-signing date)? And was there ever any truth to the Heyman rumors about Appel signing would need MLB intervention? Coul dti sstill happen? I admit the above all seems very unlikely, but it sure sounds like Boras got just what he wanted out of this (ie everyone talking about how the new draft was a failure by not funneling the top draft talent to the most-needy teams, and there needs to be changes made to the draft as it stands now).


  79. Brian says:

    Juan, I’ve thought of that too, and I honestly have no idea. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Boras tried some sort of legal shenanigans about this, but no clue what that would be.

  80. Drew71 says:

    Eric, I won’t go that far. I see your point but it is still a game about results.

    That’s not a complaint about the draft.

    What I mean is: It takes at least three years to judge a draft. Maybe four in this case because of the compensation pick in 2013.

    So. Ask me in three or four years how this all worked out. I’m not smart enough to judge it now.

    If it looks like that two or so of the nine they signed are heading to serious major league roles, if the compensation pick is also progressing, I will say the Appel pick was worth the pick. If on the other hand the results stink, then the draft stunk.

    It really is that simple, isn’t it?

    And drafting Appel, knowing the signability risk…isn’t that just another version of a high risk – high reward pick? Like drafting a high school pitcher who may or may not turn into something in, like, 5 years? If he doesn’t blow out his arm in the meantime?

    So. Appel. Wasn’t his pick just a DIFFERENT version of high risk? More about signability than performance?

    That’s the thing about those high ceiling – high risk picks. They don’t always work.

    But see above: I am not offering forgiveness, nor blame. At least not now.

    Just measure results in three or four years and then, MAYbe, I’ll be smart enough to judge.

  81. Drew71 says:

    Thunder just called. Said three words.

    “No. You. Won’t.” [Click]

  82. Mosca says:

    The Bucs did the right thing. Time will tell if it works out, but IMO their assessment of risk/reward was spot on. It could actually develop that things work out best for both sides with this outcome. Or worse for both. But without future knowledge, Huntington maximized his possibilities under all circumstances. I’m all for what happened. Best choice was to sign the guy, next best choice was to not sign him but retain maximum value in that instance.

  83. Drew71 says:

    Thunder is sorta my Gardy.

    Which is sad.

    For both of us.

  84. Drew71 says:

    Mosca – Sports = Results. It’s right if it works. I’ll give them the whole draft, not just Appel. I’ll throw in the comp pick.

    If the draft in its entirety is a success, then yes, they will have done the right thing.

    Unlike elementary school, not every participant gets a medal. We’ll see what the Pirates earn when the entire draft matures.

  85. Eric Bowser says:

    @Drew and others – What bothers me about the question if the Pirates should have tossed aside the other picks in order to sign Appel for $6 million, I don’t recall anyone saying the team should do it.

    And I don’t read every tweet, every blog post or every article but I would think over the last month I would have read something to this effect and I’m not remembering one.

    Pretty easy for fans and media to have the results of not signing Appel and say, “you know what, Boras is right, they should have spent their draft pool limit for this one guy”.

    Results will prove Boras right or wrong for his one client but last I checked, first round picks are not guaranteed success stories and the risk/reward of going down with Appel only is too much for a team still in the rebuild mode.

  86. TJ says:

    Boras is right… The Pirates could have offered more to Appel to get him signed. Boras would have considered the 5.5 and perhaps had Appel agree only to file a grievance and say the contract was not valid and squeeze another million out of the Pirates much like he did with Kdro. Maybe Appel was turned off by the idea of playing with Alvarez and Jones instead of getting to strike them out 7 times a game.

    Bottom line is Boras is a joke. He has pouted since this new system was implemented. I had little doubt that one of his clients would not sign. I am just not sure how he sold Appel on the idea of going back to school and being certain he would get more next year. Well guess what if he is as good as he and Boras say he is then he has cost himself money as he is one year further away from his first FA contract which certainly would be more than the 2 or 3 mil he thought he should have gotten. Just a dumb move in my opinion.

  87. Drew71 says:

    Eric – I am not arguing that the Pirates made a mistake. For expediency (and for Thunder) I won’t repeat what I already said in my 4000 word posts…but I am not pounding on them for Appel.

    That said, I am suggesting that I won’t judge the Pirates better (or worse) because columnists or laypeople did or did not suggest a strategy.

    It is the Pirates responsibility, not ours, not columnists, to think all options through and execute a successful strategy. Even if they have to think it up themselves. Even if we don’t tweet it to them first.

    I hope their strategy works this year. I have no reason to judge otherwise at this point. And yet I also won’t give them a pass if they didn’t think of something when we also didn’t.

    We’re not paid to. At least not by the Pirates.

  88. Mosca says:

    @Drew, agreed, but it is also a game, and this game was played correctly. We’ll see how it plays, I suppose.

  89. Derek Smith says:

    I think Huntington did the right thing. Lets say you pay pay the first two picks in Appel and Barnes the $6M+ and forfeit the next 8 picks. Are you kidding me? Take a shot and dump everything into one player, and if it doesn’t work out, than you just lost 8 picks? It just isn’t worth it! Maybe if Appel does fail, Boras will learn his lesson.

    I don’t want a fool on this team anyway that turns down $3.8M and an extra year professional ball for the hope of, what, an extra $1M or two? What a joke!

    PS: Dejan, I love reading your blog posts and columns! You do a great job reporting and covering our Bucs! LETS GO BUCS! LETS GO ZOLTAN!

    DK: Thanks, Derek.

  90. keebbuc says:

    Just imagine if we were talking about strasburg here instead of appel. He could hold you hostage for all of your money and thered be nothing you could do. You can almost imagine teams purposely darfting talent with no intention of signing them just so other teams couldnt sign them. Almost how they do in late season waiver trades… These new drafting rules have seriously complicated matters for no reason. If the talents worth 7 million, pay 7 million. You shouldnt have to do all of the scheming like you do now. I think this lesson was the whole reason boras played his cards the way he did. He knew how itd play out and he knew the reaction. At worst his client gets a ton of money, at best he gets people to second guess the whole structure and he blows the system up.

  91. Nate says:

    Justin’s comment at #9 is all that needs to be said. Dejan, your article is dead-on… from Boras’ point of view. However, from a business negotiating standpoint, it is silly, and Justin nails it on the head.

  92. Nate says:

    To be polite, this is the worst article of your tenure at PG or the Trib. Full of errors and displays a lack of understanding of the new draft system. The analogous situation to your article would be that period of time when Alvarez struck out all the time and/or weakly grounded out to second. The worst part is that is makes you seem like an ill-informed mouthpiece for Boras.

    It’s okay though. We still love you. Let’s just get over this one and keep the great reporting coming. Congrats on taking the risk and putting this one out there, it just didn’t work out right.

    DK: There was exactly one error, that about Boras representing the Nats’ top pick. Please list for me the other errors that made it “full of errors.” I’d also love to hear how a precisely accurate portrayal of the new draft system demonstrates a lack of understanding of same.

    This should be good. Thanks.

  93. USAF Tom says:


    USAF member here stationed in Japan; love your work and have been a long time follower/fan. I have come to expect top-notch journalism from you and have not been disappointed. I do have to say that this blog entry is very surprising to me.

    First off, I would argue that it is hard to assume that Appel was/is a one-one talent in this years and next year’s draft; that sounds like something Scott Boras would say and/or convince others to believe. He was drafted #8 this year for a reason and it is quite ridiculous to assume that he will be the top talent in next year’s draft because as you stated he is not a Cole type talent.

    Secondly, I thought that publicly the Pirates were very “First Class” in any announcements they had about Appel negotiations from the day they drafted him to signing day. NH displayed true leadership, while praising a player that probably didn’t deserve it and wishing him and his family the best of luck in the future. On the other hand, Appel shunned the Bucs from day 1 and never even thanked them for the confidence in drafting him to play Major League Baseball. As a collegiate athlete and now military officer, I have a high level of experience and training regarding teamwork and leadership. Appel displayed neither throughout negotiations and at this point I’m glad the Bucs didn’t sign him.

    Thirdly, baseball is a team sport not an individual sport. Appel and Boras tried to put Appel above the team by either 1. Getting the Pirates to pay Appel above slot and lose a draft pick next year or 2. Have the Bucs draft lesser / more signable talent so that they could free up more money for Appel. In either instance, I commend the Bucs leadership for not letting Boras/Appel dictate to them when clearly Boras and Appel do not care about the state of the franchise. They only care about Appel’s signing bonus amount and displayed a very open level of Greed.

    Finally, it seems like you have a hard time dealing with criticisms from your readers. I noticed it during the PSU “Death Penalty” blog entry, which I agree with BTW, and now continuing with this entry. Your responses have been argumentative and sarcastic at times. I hope that you receive this input with an open mind and I certainly look forward to your excellent, award winning writing in the future.

    Thanks, Tom

    DK: Thank you for your service, Tom, and for writing.

    If you’re disappointed in the tone of the piece, I can respect that. For frame of reference, this was neither a column nor an article, either of which I’d full flesh out. It was a phone call and resultant blog entry, and it was never intended to be more because I honestly didn’t think it was worth more.

    As for facts, we’ve covered that. There was one error, one that actually had very little to do with the point at hand but one for which I already expressed regret.

    Second, your reasoning for not wanting to draft Appel is your own. If you go back and look at my entry, I don’t take a position on this issue (for a change). I pose a question. Seems even the question was viewed as offensive by some. That’s fine. I thought it was a scenario that described the fullest context. I respect how you feel on it.

    Finally, I’ll admit the Penn State stuff was extraordinary. Dealt with hundreds of emails, answered every single one. Read everything directed my way here and on Twitter and Facebook, as well. I’m here. I’m accountable. And yeah, I’ll engage. If that looks defensive to you, then how does it look when a writer doesn’t respond at all? Or isn’t even accessible? That will never be me.

    For better or worse, I do use sarcasm as a device. It was in the opening of my Bob Nutting column Saturday. I see it as an effective device at times, but I also understand there are some put off by sarcasm on every reference. Doing it with readers is almost always lousy, but I’ll say it again: This Penn State topic and reaction … it’s something else.

    Thank you again for both service and for caring enough to write something like that and for the generally kind words about the coverage.

  94. John Lease says:

    Boras rolled the dice. Appel may never get the money he could have had as a Pirate, and that is a life-altering amount.

    I don’t see this as a failure on the Pirates part at all. It’s Boras throwing a tantrum against a system set up to reign him in.

  95. Kevin Leary says:

    Matthew is right in the first comment on this thread.

    If the Pirates had not signed anyone 2-11, they would not have gotten that excess money to sign Appell. The extra money that increased Appell’s slot of 2.8M to what he was offered at 3.8M was savings from SIGNING the other players at BELOW slot (as well as the Pirates willingness to incur the tax). The Pirates would have had to sign all of those people without bonuses or, say a bonus of $1, to be able to use the entirety of the money and approach the 5.5M figure.

    The fact that the Pirates aggressively signing others right away more likely helped solidify the fact that the team would be able to make an offer above the 2.8M (plus 5% under the taxing rules).


  96. Kevin Leary says:

    I guess if I had read to the update on the post, I’d have seen that DK already said that.

    Apologies for being redundant.

  97. John A says:

    Not sure if someone else mentioned this, but the line of thinking here isn’t even novel. Dave Cameron discussed this possibility on the day after the draft on fangraphs.

    Punting an entire draft for one player is a terrible idea, particularly in MLB when even top picks arn’t guaranteed to perform. As others have noted, Appel was not a 1-1 talent, he was 4th ranked by BA.

    Earlier DK mentioned that Boras had leverage, that is not so, he had zero leverage. His only option was to sign for the amount we offered or punt until next year and make no money. Boras then loses even more in 2013 because Appel will be a senior and will face losing a 2nd year of development.The Bucs had all the leverage because they could essentially make a take it or leave it offer with an opportunity to draft a similar player to who they would have picked (besides Appel) next year.

  98. Matt Jacobson says:


    If I have this straight, Boras is essentially saying that, at the very moment they drafted Appel, the Pirates should have bagged Rounds 2-10 of the draft, drafting players who would sign for the absolute minimum, get them signed immediately for the lowest possible dollar, signing the supplemental pick for $1M so that Mark Appel could “strongly consider” whether to accept $5.5M?

    I have a pretty strong reaction to that suggestion and it is not fit for print on your blog site.

    This kid (Appel) tries to pawn himself off as very strong in his religious convictions and, as the draft approached, he is quoted in the SF newspaper as seeing playing baseball as a “blessing” and that he couldn’t possibly be disappointed in however the draft plays out. Of course, at that time, he thought that he’d be picked No. 1 by the Astros. Time has demonstrated his hypocrisy.

    The kid has the right to make a decision and he apparently decided that, unless he received the fame and fortune (moreso the latter) that comes with being a “one-one,” he wouldn’t sign on the bottom line. Let’s assume that he would have signed at the $5.5M figure. The Bucs offered $3.8M. That means that they were $1.7M short. After taxes, he’s looking at approximately $1M less in his pocket. ($1.7M * 60% = $1.02). It appears to me that his decision essentially came down to whehter to take the guaranteed money now versus pitching another year at Stanford, risking injury and hoping to be selected in the top 2 or 3 picks next year. He might recover that $1M. He might not. One need only look at the history of baseball drafting to see that projections of who will be #1 change greatly in the months leading up to the draft – let alone one year before a draft.

    While I’m not hoping that his elbow explodes or that he loses his right foot in a lawn mower accident, I’m certainly going to be hoping that he falls to a draft slot similar to or worse than this year. I’m not particularly fond of people who like to cloak themselves in thier faith and portraying themselves as someone who they are not. Yeah, playing baseball may be a “blessing” to Mark Appel but only if the right price tag is attached. Call me crazy but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t conform with the whole WWJD “approach.”

  99. Chris L. says:


    I think one of the bigger issues here is the actual new slotting system – which owners approved this sillyness?? As if isn’t already tricky for the smaller pockets to compete; the one area where they actually spent more than the Yankees is snuffed out – were the bucs for or against this new system??

    Lastly, it sickens me that Appel freely quotes the bible with one breath, than practices the forked-tongue of greed with the next….also, these kids need to quit drinking the boras kool-aid, if they are really THAT GOOD, their true money will be earned towards the end of their careers – not the beginning; has anyone actually asked Mark about this fact? $6M is NOTHING compared to what an extra year in free agency will get you (Sabathia is @ $25M this year)….I know these fellas aren’t studying robotics at Stanford; however, elementary mathematics is usually covered and I cannot understand how they don’t understand this fact – Even a paltry $3.8M doesn’t make you expendable….

  100. buckeyehba says:

    What is wrong with losing number 1 pick next year. You have to think, it is a mid round pick or lower. You had to forego that to sign Appel. Not paying him the 5.5 or 6 mil it took was poor draft management one more time by BMTIB.

  101. Fat Jimmy says:

    I agree, Matt. I started following Appel on Twitter as soon as he was selected and his whole persona doesn’t match his actions. I admit that’s a bit of sour grapes from me since he didn’t sign, but it is bothersome.

    Ultimately, I’d have more respect for him if he admitted that he wants a ton of money and wants the prestige of a high draft pick.

  102. cmat0829 says:

    Been perusing all of the nice conversation here.. I think my conclusion on this whole Appel matter is this:

    1) The Pirates either did know or SHOULD HAVE KNOWN Appel was going to be a tough or nearly impossible sign when they drafted him.

    2) If premise 1 holds, then the Pirates approach was either to sign Appel at a discount (according to Boras but not MLB) or take the comp pick next year.

    3) Drafts are always 20-20 hindsight so to really evaluate this in terms of impact you will need to see how the player the Pirates would have picked instead of Appel does, how the player the Pirates pick at #9 next year does , and how Appel does. That will take years.

    Net net, much ado about nothing really. Appel would have been nice in the system but no way, no way, sorry Mr. Boras, is he worth either sacrificing a first round pick in 2013 OR giving him all of the top 10 money in 2012 draft. MAYBE a Strasburg or Harper might be tempting but let’s have some sort of objectivity and not just ordain any Boras top client as the “chosen one” in every draft.

  103. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Kudos to the NHL with their CBA regarding rookie salaries. Hopefully the next stays similar in that regard. MLB needs to take the same approach. Have a set limit on rookie contract lengths and salaries (i.e. 3 years, $2 million max salary per year). These pools and slots and penalties and Boras ventures are ridiculous when you consider NONE of these players have played a single inning in the major leagues. These kids like Appel act like they’re owed the world before they’ve earned it. How many normal people get a million dollar signing bonus to work for a small company for three years?

  104. Marc says:


    It appears as if Appel and Boras will have no leverage next year regardless of when Appel is picked. Even if he is a 1.1 pick why offer him anything more 3-4 M? The team can do as the Pirates did and say thanks but not thanks and move to next year receiving a comp pick, or if they get him to sign under slot increase their bonus pool. He’s the one behind the 8-ball by already delaying his big pay day by potentially moving his arbitration a year back. If a team doesn’t offer him the contract he wants then what?

  105. StLPirate says:

    No denying that the bucs need elite talent. Won’t they get a similar opportunity at the elite talent next year with the 9th pick overall – without throwing away their 2-10 picks?

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