Mark Appel, guided by Scott Boras, decided to forfeit 3.8 mill today (this, by the way, is after he pitched horribly in the CWS) and go back to Stanford as a senior, gambling that next June, he would/could get a larger signing bonus. He would have to pitch like Strasburg, no exaggeration, to get more than 3.8 mill next year.
Scott Boras has always been absolutely amazingly great, with a few misses, at getting his clients more money than anyone thought he could. He learned to use loopholes, pressure tactics, “mystery” teams and indy leagues to get more money from the bilionaires, and MLB is exploding with money, more and more with most rolling in from cable/TV/MLBAM dough.
But times have changed for players who are not Union members. The Union made a HUGE mistake, a mistake on which the owners immediately pounced, by not correctly judging the sudden public animosity to steroids which surfaced the year that The Hated Barry Lamar Bonds broke The Sacred Home Run Record. They should have listened to Frank Thomas, and IF they had had any sense, they would have immediately announced that the Union was going to institute a strict testing policy administered by the Union – you know, the kind of testing that football does because as all yall know, no football player touches steroids. But because they were beyond stupid, the OWNERS were smart enough to sense a tool by which they could crack and finally start to destroy the Union.
And that is exactly what they did – they got the Union used to making concessions in return for not much of anything. So last CBA, the Union agreed to a cap on signing bonuses, something Bud and the owners have wanted for a LONG time, which severely limits the amount of money that can be given to ANY draftee. EACH slot isn’t absolute, but the cap sure is. There is a little bit of wiggle room, but only a tiny bit, because anyone who goes over has to forfeit their next year’s first round pick and the days of Michael Tucker (signed by the Giants IN ORDER to forfeit their first rounder – yes, I swear it’s true) and trading for a FA to be at the deadline to get the picks when he signs somewhere else – that is gone. So there will be very VERY few compensation picks.
To summarize, amateur talent is going to be paid less and less with each successive draft and they are no longer allowed to sign ML contracts as a draftee – THAT particular weapon is gone.
And the OTHER weapon that is gone is playing in any OTHER league to avoid a draft.
Anyway, really top notch talent like Harper or Strasburg or David Price – these guys are going to make the first round ONLY when they have any leverage at all, which is when they have a chance to go somewhere else, and even then, they are gambling that they will be better in the future. Sometimes, this pays off (see Wes Musick) and sometimes, it doesn’t (see Brett Eibner). But owners now have extreme leverage over college seniors in the draft, because they have ZERO leverage. in fact, teams are drafting college seniors in the 4th through 10th rounds, because they can offer them pennies on the dollar so that they will have more money to pay the high schoolers and college juniors and JUCO guys.
In fact, teams are not allowed to not just pick a first rounder and give them all the slot money for rounds 2 – 10.
The probability that Appel will be picked in the first round at ALL next year as a college senior, is close to zero, unless he pitches like Strasburgh/Prior – and he certainly doesn’t appear to have that kind of ability. He is gambling that he will get a signing bonus over 3.8 million NEXT year, that the rest of the crop will be so dismal that there WON’T be anyone better. He’d have to go in the first 5 picks, probably the first THREE picks, to get more than 3.8 mill.
I have NO idea why he’s dissing 3.8 mill (which was the maximum he could have been offered without the Pirates forfeiting next year’s first rounder) because the days of holdout guys like Luke Hochevar, whose lifetime ERA over 117 ML games started is over 5 (meaning that if he hadn’t been picked in the first round, he wouldn’t ever have made it to the major leagues, or STAYED in the major leagues in the first place), are OVAH. Someone who LIKES the guy should have reminded him of the story of Matt Harrington, who turned down 5 mill the first year, and every offer every subsequent year until finally he had no offers at all.
Me, I’m curious about 2 things:
1 – this offer turning down. Scott Boras has had very VERY few misses over the years, has very seldom misjudged any market (Matt Harrington, the second time around, was one of his few mistakes.) Whose decision was it for Appel to spit on 3.8 mill – Appel, who clearly felt dissed (judging by comments about being dropped to the 3rd round) or does Boras really think he can find SOME way around this new airtight slot rules for a guy who will have ZERO leverage next year? Has he determined that next year’s gonna be available talent is SO lousy that a guy with ZERO leverage will go in the first couple of slots and or any team would be willing to forfeit the next year’s first rounder? Nobody thought THAT much of Appel in a year in which he DID have leverage.
2 – the owners, with HELP from the players Union, have slammed the door on Boras and amateurs. What on earth was the motive of the Union for agreeing? ANYTHING to avoid war, like Neville Chamberlin? What did the Union get in return? The amount of money spent on amateurs is/was a drop in the bucket. I don’t see that any Union member got more income from the massive MLBAM or licensing deals. A tiny raise of minimum salaries? Any significant change in the pension plan or medical plan? Nope. Are you kidding me? Cmon. The only reason I can think of for throwing non-Union players into the garbage can is fear of the younger man – sort of like the aging woman who asks the magic mirror on the wall if she is still the most beautiful of all, knowing deep down that her fear that she will someday be displaced by some younger woman will come true – and that she won’t be able to either kill them all or make them all older/uglier. And any ballplayer IS going to eventually be displaced, usually kicking and screaming because very few have Biggio endings to their careers (meaning 2 years worth of ML playing time you didn’t deserve because you are the owner’s pet).
And what is so strange about the insisting on not paying top young amateurs any significant bonus is that teams trade away top major leaguers for prospects and PICK UP the huge amount of money they are still paying for the youngsters.
We just paid 8 million dollars for Robert Rasmussen and Matt Dominguez – ARE YOU KIDDING ME? A ML team doesn’t blink at paying an enormous sum like that for 2 failed minor leaguers but protests about paying 8 million dollars for a first rounder?
But really, the Union minus Marvin Miller, has lost its way. They need to read some Aesop’s Fables and remember what happened to the Oxen vs the Lions when the Oxen forgot all about United We Stand, Divided We Fall – which appears to be a lesson that the owners have learned the hard way. They are certainly reaping the reward as they are keeping more and more of the income streams every year, while painting Those Greedy Players are the REAL reason that ticket prices are so high, which works, because most people feel that being an athlete is already a “privilege” and they should WANT to work for free like those innocent college “amateurs.”
They also need to read about what happend to those beautiful Old Trees when they decided to sacrifice the young, nothing Ash Tree to the Woodsman and his axe head.
You forget how to fight, you forget that in a negotiation, you HAVE to get something of equal or greater value for every concession, you get used to losing. The owners, having seriously defeated Scott Boras and the younguns, having kept more and more of the baseball income, are going to next be looking for a way to get out of guaranteed contracts. They know very well that the last few years of almost every FA contract is lost money and now, they use it as an excuse when they don’t win – it’s all Soriano/Clank etc’s fault because of all that money going to one not good any more player. And it works with the fans and works VERY well. You note that the teams can then grouse that Clank/Sori is untradeable because of the contract amount blahblahblah.
BUT they always structure the contract so that the player gets pain more at the end, when he is the least valuable. When do you ever see a contract in which all the big money is paid at the BEGINNING and the least is at the end? Like 25/20/18/15/10/7/4? It’s not all the owners’ fault, you know, Gary Sheffield isn’t/wasn’t the only player to do the pee-pee waving mine is biggern yours thing. Long after the Magic Mirror on the Wall has told them theirs isn’t the biggest one of all.
And, speaking of respect, once you start giving concessions without getting anything of value in return, the winning side stops respecting you and you learn to be satisfied with the less and less you DO get. Sort of like people in a monagamous relation. Once it was OK for someone to cheat once, just because they were drunk at the time and didn’t mean it, it is OK that they cheated when they were on a business trip, because it was business and didn’t mean anything, and then it is OK that they have someone on the side because at least you still have them, then it is OK when the someone on the side moves in because at least they aren’t in your bed and you still have your relationship, and then it is still OK when it is YOU has to move out because at least you still have your wedding ring – and finally, when you realize that actually it’s not OK, you end up with not much at all, including your self respect.
Which, I have a feeling, is where Mark Appel is going to be in a year or two.