It is expected that the Pittsburgh Pirates will not be signing their second first round pick, #41 overall, Nick Lodolo. Lodolo was considered a strong commit to Texas Christian University, and looks as though he is heading there.
Yesterday morning a couple interesting tweets came out. The first was from prospect insider Jim Callis at mlbpipeline.com. Callis noted in a tweet that he felt Lodolo would be the highest draft pick not to sign with Jason Groome, Anthony Kay, and Braxton Garrett all expected to. Those three are the only players in front of Lodolo who have yet to sign. He followed that up with another tweet that said, “Lodolo is best bet to be the highest unsigned draft pick…”. Callis is one of the biggest MLB prospect insiders and knows his stuff. This notion was then confirmed later in the morning when Lodolo himself took to twitter. The big left-handed pitcher tweeted out, “I’m proud to officially be a Horned Frog!! Let’s get back to Omaha!”.
Obviously you want to sign as many draft picks as possible, especially the higher draft pick players. The California native was ranked as the #85th overall prospect according to mlbpipeline.com before that draft. With that the Pittsburgh Pirates were high enough on him that they reached almost 40 picks. The hope was that the Pittsburgh Pirates would be able to use the #41 slot value to convince Lodolo to pass on his commitment. The 41st pick’s slot value was 1.5 million dollars. For comparison, if Lodolo would have been drafted at #85, where he was ranked, his value was around 700,000 dollars. The Pirates were able to offer him over double what his ranking suggested he was worth. On top of that, the Pirates had about 180,000 dollars extra in their bonus pool to go over slot on Lodolo. Still it seems that it is not enough.
What is the outcome? Well because the Pittsburgh Pirates will not be able to sign Nick Lodolo at #41, they lose their bonus pool for that spot (1.5 million). This is not that big of a deal. The only way this really would matter is if the Pirates were able to sign him under his 1.5 million slot, they then could have distributed the left over money to picks after the tenth round. The Pittsburgh Pirates are likely done signing draft picks. They have about 100,00 dollars extra that they can spend on picks after the tenth round, allowing them to pay up 200,000 dollars for one of those picks.
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The good news about missing out on Lodolo, is that the Pittsburgh Pirates will not lose their Competitive Balance pick. In the 2017 draft they will be compensated the #42 overall pick for failing to sign Nick Lodolo. This will give them a bigger bonus pool next year and another chance to sign an upside prospect. Although the Pittsburgh Pirates miss out on a top 100 prospect, they will be able to find another one next year. They miss out, but not completely.
Next year the Pirates could find themselves with several first round picks. They will have their typical first round pick, the compensations for Lodolo, a chance at getting another Competitive Balance pick, and potentially a pick if they hand out a Qualifying Offer to Mark Melancon, and less likely, but a qualifying offer to David Freese. They will be awarded first round picks if they lose their Qualifying Offer players to other teams. The Pittsburgh Pirates did this last year when they offered Russell Martin a Qualifying Offer and he signed with Toronto. For that they received the #31 overall pick and drafted Ke’Bryan Hayes.
Nick Lodolo was one of my least favorite picks. I felt he was very raw and a reach at #41. At first I thought the pick was to save money for other spots, but after researching more about Lodolo, it did not seem to be the case. Nick Lodolo has great size, a loose arm, and good upside, but he also seems to be a long-term project to get him to develop into the player he can be. I do not feel the Pirates are missing out on a future all-star, but only time will tell.