"We took the player we liked the most on the board, created money and, unfortunately, we were unable to reach the value he placed on himself," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We knew he would be a difficult sign."
Appel's adviser, super-agent Scott Boras, blamed Major League Baseball's new slotting system for the failure to reach agreement. The Pirates had spent a record $51 million in bonuses the four previous years, but the new system allotted them only $6.6 million to sign their first 11 picks. If they went over, they'd face fines or the loss of future picks.
"This system placed teams like Pittsburgh in a great dilemma, and it shouldn't," Boras said. "It's not about the revenue or a willingness to pay. It's about the system."
The Pirates ended up signing 11 of their top 14 picks.