Here is the latest news on draft and international signings as we look ahead to the July 12 deadline for Rule 4 draftees to sign. You can keep track of signings from the draft's first round right here. Only five players -- Kris Bryant (Cubs), Colin Moran (Marlins), Phil Bickford (Blue Jays), Hunter Renfroe (Padres), and Aaron Judge (Yankees) -- remain unsigned. As Jim Callis of Baseball America recently explained (subscription required), the changes to the draft system have sapped the signing period of its former deadline drama. Last year, for instance, only six first-rounders waited to sign until the last day, just three of those lasted until the last hour before the deadline, and only one (Mark Appel) did not end up signing.
- Among the unsigned first-rounders, Callis tweets that he expects all to sign. While he thinks Bickford will ultimately ink with the Blue Jays, Callis does say (via Twitter) that he is the most likely of the five to pass up a deal.
- The Jays are also angling to convince a late-round choice, such as Jake Brentz, Sam Tewes, or Rowdy Tellez, to forego college and join the organization, explains Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto has cleared about $1.3MM of bonus pool availability after locking up second-rounder Clinton Hollon for $701k under slot. Davidi says that the club is expected to sign first-rounder Bickford for close to slot value, leaving the team free to spend the rest of its cash on one of its hard-to-sign picks.
- While Bryant remains the highest choice yet to sign, the Cubs remain confident that they will lock him up, GM Jed Hoyer told David Kaplan in a WGN Radio interview (Twitter link). Likewise, Callis opined (via Twitter) that Bryant will sign, though it may take until the deadline.
- Even as the Cubs finish up their draft signings, the team remains heavily involved in the international amateur market. Top overall international prospect Eloy Jimenez has yet to formally sign with Chicago despite reportedly agreeing to terms, which MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez says signals that the Cubs are paying close attention to the penalties for going over the allotted international bonuses. (Twitter link.) Concurring with MLBTR's Steve Adams' breakdown of the Cubs' international expenditures, Sanchez also provided some added background on the situation in a separate piece.
- We also just learned that the Jays' AL East-rival Red Sox have cleared a similar amount of cash. Callis tweets that Boston will "definitely" spend up to its slot totals and may also go into the tax penalty space up to the point of sacrificing a draft choice.
- The Angels are still working to sign 12th-round, high-school righty Blake Goins, tweets Callis. The club can go up to $472k before hitting any penalties, and could pay Goins as much as $621k before it would have to sacrifice a draft pick to sign him.
- Likewise, with their available funds, Callis tweets that the Reds appear to be targeting 14th-round choice Willie Abreu. The University of Miami commit reportedly has a power bat and arm.