Report: Houston Astros Sign Mark Appel Under Slot Value

Mark Appel Stanford

Mark Appel will join the Astros organization after a strong senior year for Stanford. (Image Courtesy: Pittsburgh Pirates)

The Houston Astros have agreed to a deal with No. 1 draft pick Mark Appel, according to the sources of CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. Appel and agent Scott Boras turned down a contract offer from the Pittsburgh Pirates last year.

[Update: Appel will receive a $6.35 million bonus, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America.]

The contract is worth between $6 million and $6.5 million, according to Heyman, though the slot value for the first overall pick was $7.79 million. The Pirates reportedly offered Appel between $3.3 million and $3.8 million last year, the latter being the most the team could offer without losing their first round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. Instead, Appel chose to return to Stanford for his senior season and collected a 2.12 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 80 innings. A native of Houston, Appel could be with the Astros’ Major League team by next year.

Pittsburgh chose Georgia high school outfielder Austin Meadows with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2013 draft, the compensation selection the team received for failing to sign Appel. The Pirates then selected Washington high school catcher Reese McGuire with the No. 14 overall pick, a choice they would have lost if they had signed Appel for more than $3.8 million. McGuire says he will join the Pirates organization.

“Selecting Mark was a calculated risk, as we knew he would be a difficult sign,” Huntington said in a conference call last year. “While we would’ve preferred to add Mark to the group of talented prospects in our system, we wish Mark, and his family, nothing but success in the future.”

In one respect, Boras and Appel came out with a victory in the risk they took. Appel earned a signing bonus at least $2 million more than he would have received from the Pirates, even if his time in professional baseball was pushed back one year.

“This had nothing to do with the Pittsburgh Pirates, it had to do with the system,” Boras told Heyman earlier this month, referring to MLB’s slot value system for draft picks. “When they drafted a player at a slot grandly below the value of the player, the system did not allow them to sign the player.”

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James Santelli

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

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  • kidic56

    When they say it isn’t about the money, you know it’s all about the money.

  • John Dreker

    He turned down a $6mil draft day deal from the Astros last year, that’s the only reason the Pirates were able to take him. He gained nothing when you figure in taxes, agent fees, lost salary and the fact he would be in the majors right now for the Astros. Turning down the Pirates worked for him and the Pirates obviously now that we see what kind of person he is, turning down the Astros last year did absolutely nothing for him, probably lost him money when you figure he could have invested some of it a year ago

    • iChuck33

      Exactly. Thank you, you saved me a lot of typing!

  • HamburgBucco

    I will enjoy seeing Appel suffer at Houston. Even if he wins every start for them they are still bad enough to remain near the bottom of the league standings for years to come. Let’s see how much he is going to enjoy the first few years of his career with the Astros.
    At Stanford he was used to winning a lot, the Astros are a lot less glamourous in that respect.

    I’m actually more excited now about seeing what Meadows and McGuire can do for us three or four years from now, provided they sign with us.
    One big plus for us is obviously that Meadows and McGuire as OF/1B and catcher could play more or less every game whereas Appel as a staring pitcher could only show his skills every fifth game.

    For sure it’s going to be an interesting game when Appel pitches his first game against us.

    • smurph

      Hamburg, the Astros are actually doing a pretty good job of loading up on young talent, similar to what Washington and Tampa have done. Maybe not quite to that extent. Do not be surprised if the Astros are a .500 team in 2-3 years when Appel enters the majors.

  • Fred Langford

    This is just another typical Boras situation. It’s never really about the client but about him. The Astros ended up great in all of this…they got Appel for around the same price and also Correa who is incredible. The Pirates ended up great also getting Meadows so everyone wins. This doesn’t make the situation right but Appel gambled and sorta won…I would say he broke even and lost a few months development…oh well. Either way, Appel, you are dead to me! It may be petty but Bucs fans should root against him until the day he retires.

    • Jeremy J Stein

      I wonder if that is the reel reason some (a lot?) Pirates fans will root against Appel; the fact that he gambled and got what he wanted. It remains to be seen if his gamble will set a precedent for other top talents to follow if they wanted.
      I personally dislike that Boras was involved, cause really, he won.

  • derekbellstutu

    I think it’s time for Pirates fans to move on from Mark Appel. Wishing the worse for Appel is like wishing the Bucs had selected Machado over Taillon. It’s a moot point. The Pirates have a very strong farm system even without Appel & Machado.

    • Jeremy J Stein

      I’ll only root against Appel if Dahl has a better career than Meadows.
      Of course on the flip side I’ll thank and root for Appel if Meadows has a better career than Dahl.

      • Jeremy J Stein

        Although, now that I think about it. There is nothing that states a 1st round draft pick has to sign, so maybe the Pirates should share some of the infamy that some (a lot of?) Pirates fans associate with Appel, since the Pirates did take a calculated risk.
        Overall, I think you’re right Derek, Pirates fans should move on.

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