The Oakland Athletics have signed six of their top ten picks, including first-rounder Matt Chapman and second-rounder Daniel Gossett. Or, maybe they've only signed five of ten, depending on who you ask. But probably six.
Not only are third baseman Matt Chapman and right-handed pitcher Daniel Gossett signed, but they are both signed "under slot," meaning that they took less than the recommended amount for that place in the draft. Each pick in the draft is assigned a certain value by MLB, and a team is allowed to spend an amount of money equal to the sum of the values of all of its picks on contracts for its draftees. If the team spends more than that amount of money, then there are penalties including a luxury tax of 75 to 100 percent and forfeiture of future first- and second-round picks, depending on how far over the budget it goes. The maximum penalty, for going more than 15 percent over-budget, includes a 100 percent tax and the loss of the team's first-round pick for the next two years. (Full draft rules are here if you're interested.)
Signing picks under slot can be beneficial to a team because it gives the flexibility to offer more to a draftee who is playing hard to get. I don't know if that means the A's are planning to go over-slot on one of their remaining picks, or if they're just generally trying to play it safe and make sure that they come nowhere near losing future picks, so let me make it clear that I'm not trying to draw any grand conclusions here. Maybe the guys they liked just happened to come cheap. That's not out of the question either, considering that the A's have a reputation for looking for value in places where others don't. It's not like they could trade down to the 35th pick to get Chapman and cash in on some extra value, like they do in the NBA and NFL.
However, it seemed like there were eyebrows raised at the team's top two selections, at least among the Athletics Nation community. Nobody had Chapman going to Oakland in the first round and, from what I've heard (and I'm no expert on the draft analysis circuit), he was widely expected to go in the second round. Perhaps one reason that the A's targeted him was because he was a guy they liked and he wouldn't force them to go over-budget. That's not to suggest that they passed on someone they liked more to get him just to be cheap, but rather that signability may be a significant part of their equation when drawing up their big board. Ditto with Gossett. Or maybe there was nobody who they thought was worth breaking the bank on, so they went with some safe picks. You could go any number of ways with this. Let's just enjoy the fact that the top two picks are signed.
Or are they? The team's official press release from 12:23 p.m. PT Friday had a list of which draftees had either signed contracts or agreed to terms. Chapman was not one of the bolded names. I'm assuming this means that they just haven't made the public announcement yet, because I have no reason to suspect that Callis would be incorrect in his report. I feel like someone from MLB.com probably has the inside scoop on what's going on. However, it seemed worth noting.
The Athletics also signed four more picks:
No. 4 Jordan Schwartz, RHP (college)
No. 8 Branden Kelliher, RHP (high school)
No. 9 Mike Fagan, LHP (college)
No. 10 Corey Miller, RHP (college)
The remaining picks who have not yet signed:
No. 3 Brett Graves, RHP (college)
No. 5 Heath Fillmyer, RHP (college)
No. 6 Trace Loehr, SS (high school)
No. 7 Branden Cogswell, SS (college)
Pitchin'. Git yer pitchin' right over here.