More on the Dace Kime Story

After posting the story about 2010 8th rounder Dace Kime choosing to go to Louisville, I started thinking about the comments in the article and the timeline involved.  I did some research, and came up with the following timeline:

June 6th: Kime’s high school graduation

June 8th: Kime drafted

June 15th: Kime scheduled to pitch for Midland Redskins

June 30th: The last date for Louisville freshman orientation

July 29th: Louisville late orientation date

So with those dates in mind, let’s review the article’s timeline:

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).

Since Kime was scheduled to pitch on the 15th, that means we can put the date of the deal on the 15th.

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

Orientation had several dates, with the latest being 6/30. That’s two weeks away from the 15th, which was when Kime agreed with the Pirates. So the “two weeks turned into three weeks, then four” doesn’t match up.

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.

Assuming Kime went to the last orientation date, that makes 7/2 “on the way back”. It’s hard to know when that “certain day” deadline was, as it could have been any time between 7/2 and the time of the story (7/13).

The “jump through hoops” line has been latched on to, but that’s the words of the mother. It’s most likely a translation, putting it in her words. There’s no way to know whether the Pirates actually said that phrase. It could have been a simple refusal to meet the deadline, which makes sense, since MLB has yet to allow over-slot deals.  I can confirm that this is an over-slot deal.  After consulting a source with knowledge of the situation, I learned that Kime wanted $800,000 around the draft, and told teams he wasn’t going to sign if he was drafted after the fifth round.  After being drafted, he came down on his price, going to $400,000.

There has also been some talk about how orientation was required.  A commenter on the PBC Blog going by the name of Fat Jimmy, e-mailed the editor of the original story and got this response:

I think most of those factors came into play. I think Kime’s family felt that once the Pirates signed their higher draft picks, there was a chance Pittsburgh would come back with a lower offer to him. They had heard from MLB about his slot, but the way Pittsburgh dragged negotiations out after telling him they were going to get him signed and playing as soon as possible was a big source of frustration for him as well.

He was told once he came to a verbal agreement, the signing wouldn’t take long and he would be on his way to rookie ball. That’s not what happened. Once it dragged on, he felt like he had to cover his bases with school, in case negotiations didn’t keep moving forward or if they fell through. With the Pirates telling him not to go to orientation, that was also a problem. If he didn’t go to orientation, which was mandatory, and everything fell apart, he would have had to sit out a year of college.

He put them on a deadline hoping that the Pirates would come through, but they told him that they weren’t going to jump through his hoops, all the while expecting him to jump through theirs. Once he was in Louisville for orientation, the more he became convinced that school was the right choice for him and that the Pirates would keep dragging their feet. Again, the family knew that the higher draft picks hadn’t been signed, and they were advised that could mean less money to sign once Pittsburgh signed those guys.

So I take it there are some upset Pirates fans in Pittsburgh today? I don’t know if I answered your questions, but that’s what I tried to convey in the story. I hope that helps.

Tim McDonough
Assistant Sports Editor
The Crescent-News

A few points I took from that.  First, the two sides reached an agreement, but Kime was worried that the Pirates would come back with a lower offer after he missed orientation.  However, Louisville also holds a late orientation on July 29th, so that wasn’t an immediate threat.  I will point out that the Pirates have spent more than any team in the last two drafts, and they’ve been successful at reaching above slot agreements with several high school players in the last two years.  While the family may have been concerned over the Pirates changing the terms of the agreement, nothing in the Pirates history suggests they weren’t willing to give Kime $400,000.

The e-mail also mentions that the negotiations dragged on, but that’s really a relative term.  Kime agreed to the deal on the 15th, and went to orientation no later than two weeks after agreeing with the Pirates.  The Pirates, according to the e-mail response, said that the signing “wouldn’t take long”.  There’s no definite timeline involved there, but this is also a situation the Pirates don’t control, as they are at the mercy of MLB.  The signing depends on when MLB will start approving slot prices, and Kime was aware of this situation, according to the e-mail response.

The stress involved was cited often, even though we’re talking about a 2 week span between the time Kime agreed to the deal, and the last possible date for orientation. It’s not like the negotiations lasted over a long period of time. Knowing what we know about over-slot deals, there’s no way Kime would have been approved by MLB before orientation, especially when we’re talking about a deal

that was $250,000 over-slot.  Last year Trent Stevenson was approved on July 23rd, and that was only $200,000 over-slot (and keep in mind that there are no actual slot prices, but that anything over $150 K after the fifth round is considered “slot”).  If Kime is approved on the same timeline, you’re looking at about a month between the time he agreed to the deal, and when MLB approves the over-slot signing (and again, they have yet to approve an over-slot signing, so this is a league-wide issue, not just with Kime and the Pirates).

It’s impossible to know what the Pirates communicated, or what exactly can be said. All we know is that a workout program was never sent after the agreement.  It’s easy to see how the process can be uncomfortable for the family. If the Pirates tell the truth, they’re basically saying that MLB doesn’t allow over-slot deals this early, and that they usually delay the signings until an unspecified date in the future. If you’re a kid with a college commitment, that process could easily sound a lot like “there’s no guarantee MLB approves the deal”. I’m sure if you have no knowledge of the process, the whole “we can sign you now, but we can’t get it approved until the end of July” talk would seem very strange.

It sounds a lot like Kime didn’t have an advisor.  An advisor would have been able to explain all of these things.  The advisor could have explained that MLB doesn’t allow over-slot deals this early, although I’m not sure that would have relieved the stress involved, since there’s no way to know whether or not the Pirates also relayed this information.

I’m not sure how Kime’s eligibility comes in to play. I know that once a player steps foot on a college campus, he’s not eligible to sign. I’m not sure if orientation counts for that. So maybe the Pirates can still reach a deal when MLB starts allowing over-slot signings, but it sounds like Kime is going to Louisville.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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