According to Tim McDonough of The Crescent News, Pittsburgh Pirates’ eighth round draft pick Dace Kime has decided to go to Louisville, rather than sign with the Pirates. The article mentions that Kime reached an agreement with the Pirates right away, but that the deal was never finalized. It sounds to me like this could possibly be a case of MLB delaying the signings. Take a look at the following quotes:
“After Dace graduated, we moved him to Cincinnati where he was going to play for the Midland Redskins (Connie Mack team), but the Pirates told us they wanted to come to an agreement right away,” Parrish said. “That meant he couldn’t throw competitively for anyone, which put us in an uncomfortable spot.
“Six hours before he was to throw (for Midland), we came to an agreement and he had to tell the Midland coaches he had to leave and couldn’t tell them why,” added Parrish. “That of course was obviously uncomfortable for Dace. The Pirates told Dace to go home, wait a few weeks and they would send him a workout routine to get him ready to go to Florida (for rookie ball).”
Unfortunately for Kime, that’s not what happened.
“What happened was two weeks turned into three weeks, then four and still no workout routine,” said Parrish. “All of a sudden, orientation at Louisville was here and that turned into another uncomfortable moment. The Pirates didn’t want us to go, but we knew if he didn’t and things fell through, he wouldn’t be able to go to school in the fall. So we went.
“It was mandatory for Dace to go, we went and we did knowing we had to cover all our bases,” continued Parrish. “On the way back, that’s when Dace decided that he was going to put the Pirates on a deadline to get the deal done. We told them, this is where we’re at, we need to know by a certain day. They told us, that weren’t going to jump through our hoops.”
Once the deadline came and went with the Pirates, that’s when Kime made his decision to head to Louisville. Now that he’s going to college, Kime knows it will be at least three years before he can be drafted again.
I don’t know the details of the deal, but I think we can piece things together here and see what probably happened on the Pirates’ end:
1. Kime is a prep pitcher, with a commitment to Louisville, and was drafted in the eighth round. He would most likely require an over-slot bonus (while there are no slot prices after the fifth round, anything over $150 K could be considered “over-slot”).
2. The Pirates said they wanted to come to an agreement right away.
3. The Pirates and Kime reached an agreement. The Pirates told him to “wait a few weeks” and then he would report to Florida.
4. The weeks went on, and no deal was finalized. Keep in mind that the Pirates can’t send a workout routine to Kime until a deal is official, as that would remove his eligibility.
Last year we heard that the Pirates lost two signings because of MLB’s tendency to drag their feet on over-slot deals. MLB tries to protect their slot system by delaying over-slot agreements until later in the signing period, to allow other teams to sign their players for slot value. By delaying the over-slot deals, you remove those deals as leverage, allowing other teams every chance to sign their players to slot prices. At least that’s the theory.
The truth is that everyone knows what players will sign at slot prices, and everyone knows what players will sign at over-slot prices. For example, if Stetson Allie signs, it’s going to be at least $2 M. Everyone knows Allie isn’t going to take slot value to sign. If Allie were able to sign for $2 M right now, the theory is that all of the earlier picks would use that $2 M figure as leverage in their negotiations, to try to get more than their lower slot price. The truth is that Allie has leverage, while the players who sign for slot don’t have the same leverage. But that doesn’t stop MLB from delaying the over-slot deals.
It’s not a coincidence that there have been no official over-slot deals yet. There have been reports of over-slot deals being reached, such as the $500 K deal the Mets reached with their 24th round pick. However, those deals haven’t been made official yet, which shows that MLB is delaying those signings.
Again, I don’t know what Kime and the Pirates agreed to, but I can only assume with his situation (prep pitcher with a college commitment) that he would demand an over-slot deal. I also know that the Pirates have signed several players this year, where the signing has become official just 3-5 days after the player has reached an agreement with the Pirates. By official, I mean the deal has been announced, and the player has reported to Florida.
So think about it: the Pirates have had no trouble getting deals finalized this year, in the matter of 4-5 days after they reach an agreement with the player. Why would it take weeks for a deal to be finalized with Kime after he and the Pirates reached an agreement? It’s clear that Kime’s signing was delayed. The Pirates wanted to sign him right away, so it doesn’t make sense that they’re the ones delaying the signing. That would only leave the commissioner’s office.
I’m not sure if Kime can still sign with the Pirates, but it looks like he’s going to Louisville. Last year the over-slot signings didn’t start coming in until the end of July. Trent Stevenson had the biggest over-slot deal on July 23rd, and that was only $200 K over-slot. I’d expect the same will happen this year. It’s just a shame that MLB’s ridiculous process of delaying over-slot deals might have cost the Pirates another signing with Kime.