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Flurry of Signings at the Deadline

Baseball needs deadlines to get things done. I guess that is true of virtually anything in life, but it seems particularly true in baseball. It amazes me every year how much happens right before any sort of deadline in Major League Baseball. It is part of what makes the sport so exciting to follow. Here is a blow-by-blow account of how today went down:

  • Well before the deadline the Orioles announced their deal with Brian Matusz, and the Yankees announced that they would not come to an agreement with Garret Cole. Also, while a deal between the Giants and Buster Posey was not final, rumors were that they only had to put the finishing touches on an agreement.
  • There was little news until about 15-30 minutes before the deadline. That's when it broke that Yonder Alonso had signed. He reportedly got a major-league deal, and a signing bonus in the $4-$4.5 million range. He started the day asking for a $7 million bonus, so the reason this deal got done (to my surprise) is because he lowered his asking price drastically in the last couple hours before the deadline.
  • The Alonso deal paved the way for Justin Smoak to sign with the Rangers. He got a $3.5 million bonus, but no major-league deal. Popular belief was that Smoak was waiting for Alonso to sign, but I am not so sure the deals were as intimately connected as most think. If Smoak was truly waiting, I would think that he would have either taken the $3.5 million bonus but demanded a major-league contract, or asked for a $4 million bonus with no major-league deal. It seems that all the college players above Smoak were demanding major-league deals, so I would assume that significant negotiating took place to result in the deal that he signed. That negotiating had to take place while the Alonso situation was very much in limbo.
  • The Padres did get Allan Dykstra signed with a $1.15 million signing bonus (and I'm assuming it is a minor league contract). Rumors were that they offered $1.5 million before getting worried about a hip condition that Dykstra has. I am mildly surprised the deal got done, but not so much when I saw that the final figure was only $350,000 less than the rumored pre-injury bonus. Considering Dykstra has had no problems with the condition for three years, I think the situation was a little overblown, and not worth the trouble of going down to the deadline.
  • Buster Posey officially signed with the Giants sometime right around the deadline. There are still no confirmed reports, but rumors are that he got a major-league deal, and the signing bonus may be as high as $6.75 million. Some sources say the rumored bonus total is not right, and I would agree. I think it is less, especially if he got the MLB contract.
  • It took until a half hour past the deadline for news to break that the Pirates had signed Pedro Alvarez, and the Royals Eric Hosmer. Both must have gone right down to the deadline. Alvarez reportedly got a $6 million signing bonus, but no major-league deal! The bonus is huge, but the minor league deal is quite surprising, especially given the number of college players picked below him that did get them. Early reports are that Hosmer also received a bonus in the neighborhood of $6 million, and I will go out on a bit of a limb and assume he also got a minor league contract.
  • As seemed rather likely, the Nationals did not sign Aaron Crow. It will be interesting to see if Crow pitches a year in an independent league, or returns to Missouri. He definitely will re-enter the draft next year at this point. Frankly, I think he may pay dearly for his decision. Next year is supposed to be a strong draft for pitching, certainly a stronger one than this one. Crow is going to have to do something really special in the next year to make it in the top 10 again. As for the Nationals, they were really smart to hold their ground. They are already on track for a top-3 pick in the 2009 draft thanks to the awful season they are suffering through, and now they also have the 10th pick in 2009 as compensation for not signing Crow. As previously mentioned, next year's draft looks like it will have way more pitching talent, so the Nationals can likely land two pitching prospects better than Crow next year. Washington quietly has reason to be very happy tonight.
  • As seemed even more likely, the Mariners did not sign Josh Fields. However, they have until May to sign him since he was a college senior. This is even less surprising considering how busy Scott Boras was tonight with all his other clients that needed to sign by the deadline.
Aren't deadlines fun, especially when teams are making decisions with the potential to alter the fortunes of their franchise for the next decade? I think it is great that the deadline is now August 15, but the advantages of the earlier deadline are a topic for another post.