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12 Hours To '09 Signing Deadline

Even though the Mariners do not play today, this will be a very active day. 9 pm (on the west coast) tonight is the deadline to sign draft picks. 14 first-rounders still haven't signed, including Seattle's top pick Dustin Ackley. It should be a busy day.

That may sound like an alarming number of first-rounders not under contract, and it is. However, last year about as many went down to the final day, and all about two signed. One was Aaron Crow, who hasn't signed yet this year either. The other was Gerrit Cole, who picked college baseball at UCLA over the Yankees. Neither was a case where the team and player simply ran out of time.

I will post throughout the day as significant news pours in. With so many first-rounders yet to sign, I won't write a post about every single one of them. However, here are the stories I will be paying close attention to:

  • Do all of the top three sign? They are all Scott Boras clients, and all unsigned. It's going to be a busy day for baseball's most infamous agent. Reports over the weekend came out indicating that deals with Dustin Ackley and Donovan Tate may be close to done. Stephen Strasburg is anybody's guess right now though.
  • Will teams stick to slot recommendations? This is always a storyline worth following, but especially this year. Recommended slot bonuses went down about 10 percent this year, meaning in theory most draft picks should be getting smaller bonuses. Usually, agents start at the bonus the previous year's pick got and go up from there. Baseball is serious about keeping picks to recommended slot figures, considering teams have to notify MLB if they plan to go over slot. Teams even need to come up with some sort of logical reason too. On some level, particularly in negotiations that are still far apart, today is a game of chicken: who bends in, the player, the team, or neither?
  • What will Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers do? Neither signed last year with hopes that they would get more money this year. It doesn't look like that will work for either, particularly Crow. Will either of them not sign again and take their chances in the 2010 draft? Both should sign this year, at least in my opinion, because both will be a year older in 2010, and also carry the issues that come with walking away from a guaranteed multi-million dollar contract two years in a row.
The day will get more and more fun as the deadline approaches. Stay tuned; there will be drama, intrigue, and surprises, just like with any deadline in baseball.