It's that time of year again, everyone. At 12:00 AM tonight, the book will be closed on the 2011 MLB draft, with all unsigned picks vanishing into thin air. So what do the Sox have to do before midnight?
The short answer: everything. They've signed just four of their picks from the first ten rounds, including not a one of their top-4.
The long answer is that they have a lot less to do than you might think. The MLB draft is notorious, after all, for these last day signing rushes. To start with, there's the courtesy that teams feel they owe to the Commisioner's Office to prop up their attempts to enforce a suggested slot system by leaving any over-slot deals until the last minute. That was Bud Selig can say "Well, it was last minute, and they felt the need to get it done no matter what," while the worst kept secret in baseball today rolls right along.
Then there's the fact that, for a lot of players, there's just no incentive to sign early. The later it gets, the more leverage any player outside of the college seniors has. "Make me the offer I want in the next 10 minute, or I'm gone," they can say. And when it comes down to hundreds of thousands of dollars--or "spare change" as Theo Epstein might call it--a team is more likely to snap.
So when we look at the 2011 Sox draft class and see the unsigned masses, remember that last year the Sox had Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, Sean Coyle, Gerrin Cecchini, and a number of other top-10 round talents waiting to ink contracts up until those last 24 hours. How many of them had already agreed to deals is hard to know, but it's easy to imagine that a great many were essentially locked up.
This year, the names are different--Matt Barnes, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Senquez Golson loom large--but the situation is largely the same. Swihart is the biggest holdout, while Barnes is almost certain to sign. News may have broken a bit prematurely on Golson at the beginning of the weekend, but where there's smoke, there's often fire, and Alex Speier says the two-sport star is flying into Boston today after a week of negotiations with the Red Sox.
It should be an interesting day. We'll keep you up-to-date as the signings start to filter in.