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2005 Draft Notebook: Maybin, Tigers Still Far Apart

Compiled By Jim Callis
July 25, 2005


See Also:
July 14 Notebook
June 30 Notebook

Cameron Maybin was Baseball America's third-ranked prospect for the draft, yet he lasted until the Tigers chose him with the 10th pick. There were whispers that the North Carolina high school outfielder might be a tough sign, though the main reason he dropped was that he just wasn't the right fit with eight of the nine teams ahead of Detroit, as they opted for college players.

But the difference between the Maybins' expectations and the reality of where he went in the draft has led to slow negotiations. According to sources with knowledge of the negotiations, the Tigers have offered Major League Baseball's recommended bonus for the 10th pick, $1.95 million. The Maybins, who are advised by Riverfront Sports Management, are seeking more than the $3 million bonus that last year's No. 3 pick, Philip Humber, got from the Mets as part of a major league contract.

Detroit scouting director David Chadd didn't think Maybin would fall to his club's pick, and he didn't believe getting him under contract would take this long. "I don't think anyone expected him to hold out this late," he said. "But we're still negotiating in good faith."

Chadd met with Maybin and his family when the Tigers hosted the All-Star Game. The Maybins came to Detroit on their own, and Chadd introduced them to team president Dave Dombrowski, manager Alan Trammell and Tigers icons Willie Horton and Al Kaline. Maybin also was on field for batting practice.

"He got to meet some people and see Comerica Park," Chadd said. "It's the potential end of the rainbow, and Cameron saw all of that. It's a setting he obviously wants to be in, not just the big leagues but the All-Star Game."

It's unlikely Maybin will hold out as long as Detroit's 2004 first-rounder, righthander Justin Verlander. The Tigers broke off talks with Verlander before his father Richard stepped in and helped the parties reach a deal on Oct. 23. Verlander, who received a $3.12 million bonus as part of a guaranteed $4.5 million big league contract, made his major league debut on July 4.

Chadd said he couldn't predict when a deal would get done. If Maybin doesn't sign by early August, he probably won't make his pro debut until 2006. The Tigers would like him to start facing professional pitching sooner than that.

"Any young player needs at-bats. They're critical," Chadd said. "He needs to be out there playing. But it's not the end of the world as long as he comes to an agreement in the end."

Maybin has committed to Southern. If he opts not to sign, Detroit's contingency plan will be to pursue late-round draft picks who were highly regarded but fell because of signability, such as Florida high school shortstop David Adams (21st round) and Michigan prep righthander/third baseman Zach Putnam (38th).

Tracking The Money

Twenty-five of the 30 first-round picks had signed by late July, for an average bonus of $1,633,600. That's down from the first-round average of $1,958,448 in 2004 and would be the lowest first-round average since $1,637,667 in 1998 if it held up.

This year's average for first-rounders will rise, however, as the five who remained unsigned--top three picks Justin Upton, Alex Gordon and Jeff Clement; Maybin; and Scott Boras client Mike Pelfrey--figure to command about $15 million between them.

In the 24 slots where players had signed in both 2004 and 2005, this year's first-rounders have received 9.3 percent less bonus money than last year's picks. That has been the trend throughout the early rounds, with the averages down from 2004 in each of the first six rounds as well as the supplemental first round.

One agent predicted that MLB's slotting after the first round could get tighter in 2006. With 11 supplemental first-round picks in 2004, the first second-round choice was No. 42 and had a recommended bonus of $800,000, which didn't change for the 42nd pick this year.

With 18 supplemental first-rounders in 2005, the second round started at No. 49 and a slotted bonus of $700,000—also identical to the amount advocated for the 49th pick last year. The agent said MLB may slot the top second-round bonus at $700,000 in 2006, regardless of the number of supplemental first-round picks.

Though teams are clamping down on bonuses, they're not having trouble signing players. Just 30 of the 320 players drafted in the first 10 rounds were unsigned, and that number should get cut roughly in half by the end of the summer.

DRAFT NOTES

St. John's righthander Craig Hansen became the first 2005 draft pick to receive a big league contract, after reaching a four-year, $4 million deal from the Red Sox that includes a $1.325 million bonus. Hansen, whom the Diamondbacks considered with the No. 1 overall pick, dropped to No. 26 because of concerns about his signability. Baseball America rated him as the closest player to the majors in this year's draft, though it's unlikely he'll play a significant role with the reliever-needy Red Sox this year. When he reported to the team's Fort Myers, Fla., training base in late July, Hansen hadn't pitched in a game since a start in the NCAA regionals June 3.

The Astros signed eighth-round pick Koby Clemens for $380,000, the equivalent of third-round money. Most teams viewed Clemens, a Texas high school third baseman, as a decent player more suited for college ball at this point, but he was worth more to Houston than to any other team. Koby's presence may help persuade his father Roger to continue pitching with the Astros. The club may convert Koby to catcher and allow his dad to pitch to him in spring training next year—if Roger doesn't retire at age 43.

The next first-rounder to come to terms may be Clement with the Mariners. The two sides were $700,000 apart at the end of June, but Seattle had raised its offer to $3.35 million while Clement had dropped his asking price to $3.5 million.