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.”