7/18/2014 4:44 P.M. ET
As Draft signing deadline nears, Aiken among unsigned
Teams have until 5 p.m. ET today to sign draftees, and Houston has yet to ink No. 1 pick
By Jim Callis / MLB.com
When the current Collective Bargaining Agreement radically revamped the First-Year Player Draft rules, the action surrounding the annual signing deadline diminished considerably.
Under the last Draft under the old CBA in 2011, when Major League Baseball dissuaded teams from announcing lavish deals in advance of the deadline, 22 first-rounders signed on the final day and teams paid out a total of $139.1 million in bonuses and guaranteed money to 101 players. Contrast that to the first two deadline days under the current CBA, which have averaged two first-round signings and $14.7 million in total spending on 21 signees.
There's more drama in advance of today's 5 p.m. ET signing deadline, however. While there are only two first-rounders among eight players in the first 10 rounds who have yet to reach agreement with their teams, No. 1 overall choice Brady Aiken headlines them.
A left-hander from Cathedral Catholic High (San Diego), Aiken agreed to terms on a $6.5 million bonus on June 7, two days after the Astros selected him. But a physical on June 23 made Houston concerned about his left elbow. The Astros subsequently offered Aiken $3,168,840, which equals the minimum 40 percent of his assigned pick value ($7,922,100) required to receive the No. 2 overall choice in 2015 as compensation if he doesn't sign.
Casey Close of Excel Sports Management, who is advising Aiken, has accused Houston of trying to manipulate its Draft pool to reduce Aiken's bonus and create extra money to sign 21st-round pick Mac Marshall, a Parkview (Ga.) High left-hander who was considered a top-three-rounds talent. Caught in the crossfire is fifth-rounder Jacob Nix, a Los Alamitos (Calif.) High righty who agreed to a $1.5 million bonus within two weeks of the Draft. Nix, who is also advised by Close and Excel, had his deal put on hold because if the Astros paid him $1.5 million and didn't sign Aiken, they would exceed their bonus pool by more than 15 percent -- and forfeit their next two first-round picks as a penalty under the Draft rules.
For more on Aiken, Nix and the Astros, please see our story from Tuesday.
MLBPipeline.com continues to update all signings from the first 10 rounds here. According to various baseball sources, here's where negotiations stand with the other unsigned players in those rounds:
Nationals: Nevada-Las Vegas RHP Erick Fedde (first round, 18th overall), Miami LHP Andrew Suarez (second round), Nevada 1B Austin Byler (ninth round). Fedde was on course to go in the top 10 picks before he blew out his right elbow and required Tommy John surgery this spring. The assigned value at No. 18 is $2,145,600, but another club had offered Fedde $3 million if it could grab him in the second round. As of now, Washington could give Fedde as much as $2,567,785 and not surrender a future first-rounder, but that max amount will decrease if the Nats have to exceed the pick values for Suarez ($987,800 at No. 57) or Byler ($145,900 at No. 274), or if they are unable to sign either player.
Shortly before 3 p.m. ET, Suarez posted a photo of himself on Instagram in his University of Miami uniform, along with the message, "Proud to say I'm staying home for another year," indicating that he will not sign. Byler is also likely to return to Nevada for his senior season.
Cardinals: Loyola Marymount RHP Trevor Megill (third round). Megill informed the Cards in June that he plans on going back for his senior season.
Blue Jays: Cal Poly OF Zack Zehner (seventh round). Zehner told the Blue Jays in June that he would return to college as a fifth-year senior.