One week remains until the deadline for MLB Draft picks to sign with their respective clubs, and these final seven days may be a bit more stressful than LSU originally anticipated.
As recently as last week, the Tigers were extremely optimistic they’d retain 11 of their 12 high school signees (Bobby Bradley reached a deal with the Cleveland Indians shortly after being picked). But some new developments with the Houston Astros’ first overall selection have led to some “legitimate concerns” regarding the Tigers’ prized signee Mac Marshall, according to a source on the LSU side.
Houston selected Marshall in the 21st round, though at the time, LSU had little reason to believe they’d lose him. Marshall had told the staff he’d only consider going pro if he was taken in the first two rounds, and he was already in Baton Rouge by the time the Astros drafted him.
Houston has maintained consistent contact with both Marshall and his advisor throughout the summer, but our source was unable to provide an update on those talks from the last few days.
As of Friday, two of the Astros’ picks from the first 10 rounds remain unsigned — No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken and fifth-round pick Jacob Nix.
Shortly after the Astros selected Aiken with the first overall pick, reports surfaced the two sides had reached an agreement for $6.5 million, about $1.4 million below the slot value of $7,922,100. Aiken and his family traveled to Houston two weeks ago, supposedly to finalize the contract, but the group left two days later without a deal in place.
That’s because a physical discovered a ligament problem with Aiken’s throwing elbow. Now reports indicate the Astros are trying to offer Aiken a deal worth $5 million, almost $3 million below the slot value, which would free up a significant amount in the Astros’ draft pool should the two sides agree.
Now some of that extra money would have to go to Nix, a UCLA signee. Reports indicated Houston and Nix had agreed to a bonus of $1.5 million, a deal much larger than his pick’s slot value of $370,500. But even if the two sides stick with that figure, the Astros would still have more than $1 million left over to make a run at Marshall.
So that leaves a lot to be decided in the final seven days before the deadline, and it all revolves around what happens with Aiken.
The best-case scenario from the LSU perspective would be for Aiken not to sign, but that would be unprecedented in the modern draft era. Not since 1971 has an MLB club failed to sign the No. 1 overall pick, a much different time in terms of how the draft was structured.
But if the Astros do not sign Aiken, they would forfeit the full amount of his draft slot — $7.9 million. Not only would that prevent them from making a serious run at Marshall, but it would likely mean them losing Nix as well.
LSU does expect the Astros to eventually reach a deal with Aiken though, and the value of which will ultimately decide how much Houston can offer Marshall. The hard-throwing southpaw turned down significant offers from clubs early in the draft, giving LSU the impression it will take serious money to lure him away from Baton Rouge at this point. Marshall has been on campus since June for summer classes, but that won’t scare away the Astros from making a run at him.
This should make for an interesting and stressful week as LSU tries to cling on to its highly touted 2014 signing class. Marshall has a real chance of making the weekend rotation as a freshman, and losing him this late in the process would be a tough blow for the Tigers.
So keep a close eye on what happens between Aiken and the Astros, as that will have a direct effect on LSU’s chances of keeping its top signee.
LSU concerned about Marshall, Astros
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