Sunday we got word that Tyler Alamo, the Cubs' 24th-rounder in the 2013 MLB draft had officially signed. Alamo was a high school catcher with a commitment to Cal State Fullerton, and speculation has been that he would require more than slot value to sign. Here's what BA had to say about Alamo, who they ranked #348 in their top 500:
Alamo's durable 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame has plenty of strength, but scouts use words like "rigid" and "stiff" to describe him behind the plate and in the batter's box. His receiving skills have a long way to go to become passable. He has slightly above-average arm strength, but his footwork affects his accuracy, and he takes too long to unload the ball. He is an upright hitter whose grooved swing features an arm bar. He swings and misses too often, and scouts consider him a guess hitter. He does flash promising raw power. A team could take him around the back of the top 10 rounds and try to sign him away from Cal State Fullerton.
I don't know completely what to make of this deal, to be honest, especially since his signing bonus figure was not released. The Cubs are in ongoing negotiations with second overall pick Kris Bryant, and last we heard the sides were far apart. The signing deadline is July 12th. As I mentioned in my last post on the topic, the last thing the Cubs want to do is put Bryant in a position in which he controls their #1 pick next year, meaning they need to stay under 105% of their pool allotment without Bryant. What this means is that the rest of their picks need to come in at no more than ~$192k overslot. Without Alamo, they were at $186,900 over, meaning Alamo could have signed for ~$105k without affecting the Bryant situation at all. It's also possible that Bryant has lowered his asking price to a point that the Cubs feel comfortable exceeding that figure to some extent. Notably, Trevor Clifton has still not signed despite his obvious willingness, and the report of an general agreement in terms on draft day. I think it's safe to say that the Cubs are still exercising prudence in the Bryant negotiations, not overcommitting and making sure that he is in the fold before finishing up with everyone else.
We haven't had specifics lately on Bryant, but apparently negotiations are "in a holding pattern." I think everyone expects him to sign, the only issue is price.
Don't Blame Boras
There has been some chatter surrounding Bryant to the effect that this happens with every Boras client, and he's clearly to blame. The obvious counter to this is Mark Appel, who was advised by Boras, and signed early and underslot (at least this year). Appel doesn't have the option of returning to school, it's true, but had he wanted to he could have taken the same tack as Bryant, putting a portion of the Astros' remaining draft class in limbo. Had Appel waited until July 13th to sign, the Astros couldn't have used the remainder of his slot to sign later picks.* Clearly Bryant himself has asked Boras to get him as much as possible, whereas Appel was less insistent this time around.
It's hard to be critical of Bryant's position. He doesn't have much of a say in who his employer will be; the least he can do is try to get wages commensurate with his skill. What's insidious about the draft process is that in trying for the best deal for himself, Bryant is directly affecting the Cubs' ability to sign other draftees (in this case Alamo and Clifton). This system sets us as fans rooting for maximum acquisition of talent against the high profile pick right from the start. So selfish, hogging all the draft pool money. For example, say Bryant negotiated his way to an overslot deal, forcing Clifton to attend college. If Clifton were to excel, re-enter the draft in three years, and be picked by someone else as the next Stephen Strasburg, Bryant would be tied to the absence of Clifton for his entire career. Just depressing. Change the system.
*It's true that the Astros are well under their allotted draft pool, but they would be slightly over had Appel not signed.