First-round pick Matt McLain has informed the Diamondbacks that he will attend UCLA rather than sign with them, reports Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter). The D-backs offered McLain the full slot value of $2,636,400 for the No. 25 overall selection, according to Heyman, but it appears he’ll forgo that considerable sum to play collegiate ball.
McLain, a high school infielder out of California, went considerably higher than most pre-draft rankings had forecast. None of Baseball America, Fangraphs, ESPN or MLB.com ranked him inside the Top 50 players in the draft class, though he was generally slotted into the 50 to 70 range.
Reports on McLain agree that he was one of the most polished high school bats in the draft, though there were concerns about his size (5’10”, 175 pounds), lack of plus speed and the potential that he’d need to move off of shortstop. Reports from both MLB.com and ESPN noted that his strongest advocates likened him to Alex Bregman, and certainly the Diamondbacks appear to have been among those teams most bullish on him, based on the aggressive selection in the first round.
Because McLain won’t sign, the D-backs will lose that $2,636,400 from their bonus pool. They will, however, be awarded a compensatory selection at No. 26 overall in 2019. That won’t do their lackluster farm system any immediate favors, but it’ll give the D-backs more opportunity to be creative in next year’s draft. They’re now the second NL West team who’ve been spurned by their top pick; right-hander J.T. Ginn announced last night that he would attend Mississippi State rather than sign with the Dodgers.
Technically, McLain has until 5pm ET to change his mind at the eleventh hour, though that outcome seems decidedly unlikely based on Heyman’s report.
Surprising that the DBacks selected him that high without pretty much a guarantee that he’d sign. I figured they picked him at 25 because they had close to a verbal agreement on the bonus beforehand.
I totally don’t understand how 3 major league teams have let this happen with their first round picks. If there is even the slightest chance the player will opt to go to or stay in college, DON’T DRAFT THEM!!! Braves, Dbacks, and Dodgers basically blew their first round picks, lost the slot money into the void, and have to player to show for it. Yeah, I get that they get comp picks next year, but that’s NEXT year.
Happens every year
Obviously there are more things than just money that come in to play when it comes to these type of decisions but this seems like it may have been a poor choice by the kid. Given what all the ranking systems were saying about where he should have gone and his potential pit falls it’s tough to imagine him going any higher in the draft and there’s a reasonable chance that he goes much, much lower next time around, which will cost him a lot of money.
You’re right – it may be a big mistake financially. But perhaps the kid is looking beyond the dollar figures.
It’s a big step for a HS player to go out in the world and get a job, even if it’s playing ball. I can’t blame a kid if he wants to enjoy the college experience – and get an education – before stepping out in the real world. Or maybe the kid met a cute girl on a campus visit!
While it is exciting to see teenagers in big leagues succeed, I think higher education is a smart decision. Hope more kids choose it over immediate financial security.
That was my thoughts too. Normally I’m all for kids going to college first, but when you are drafted 25-50 spots higher than where they are slotting you to be drafted you might want to take the $2.6 mil.
I hope the college decision pays off because I think that is important but financially it very well could backfire.
Even with a degree, attaining 2.6 million in a lifetime would take decades.
That’s what I’m talking about. Let’s say he becomes a lawyer or doctor which will take at least 10 years of higher education, 10+ years to pay off student loans, and the likelihood he’ll make $2.6M beyond that is remote. Take the money now, and if things don’t work out in the majors you can pay for any degree in the world with zero debt. I just don’t understand.
Remember, it’s not 2.6… it’s 1.3 after taxes… subtract the 5% for the agent… 1.15 left… Let’s say he plays for 5-6 years in the minors and never sniffs the show. How much of that 1.15 is left? Let’s say he pays himself $100k per year… at the end of that 6-year career, he has $550k in the bank… That number also doesn’t consider other purchases like cars, houses, etc.
When he is done with baseball he has no degree and no way to generate the income to support the lifestyle he is accustomed to.
It’s a trap. Matt is smart to avoid it….
All of these HS players have it in their deal that college is paid for… How many actually go back and get their degree? A VERY small amount.
Being a 26-28-year-old freshman on campus isn’t that attractive.
The horrible 2+ million dollar trap…. he was truly wise to avoid that. What a tragedy it might have been….the kid dodged a bullet
It really bugs me that this is even allowed. If you enter the draft it should be binding. Not 100% sure you want to sign? Don’t enter. Not fair to teams that they get screwed over with wishy-washy players.
You don’t ‘enter’ the draft, MLB can draft anyone they want who is eligible.
MLB works the same way as the NHL does there is no “entering” the draft like in the NFL or NBA, if you are eligible for the draft you can be drafted whether you want to be or not. Also, if you’re going to make that argument you have to make it for both sides. As a team if you’re not 100% sure they will sign with you, don’t draft them.
You might wanna “Reflect” on your post and add some knowledge about how the draft actually works.
This is a bad take.
High School players don’t “enter” the draft.. Any high school senior is automatically in the draft pool.
That makes me mad…..I never got a call and I was eligible….do I still have eligibility 20 years after the fact
Absolutely. Keep that phone handy.
Bestno5, I’ve been waiting on my call for 40 years and I’m willing to sign! lol
Right. That’s how it works. My comment describes how it should work.
Require players to sign if they enter the draft, and the player has *zero* leverage to negotiate.
That kind of take-it-or-leave-it attitude to me is very close to arguing “these kids should just consider it .a privilege they can play at all” and that “I’d play for free if I had the chance,” none of which I agree with at all.
But the player has no leverage to negotiate anyway because every slot is capped and restricted. I would also support a free for all system with no draft at all where players can truly negotiate independently.
But if they’re going to use a draft system they should make it less stupid.
The kid must come from money if he is turning down $2.6 million. I’m sorry but he probably could have gotten that and his education guaranteed with that sum as well. He could have gone to school in the off season…
They don’t really have an offseason. It’s either the regular season or a lot of training. Plus he’s probably play in the AFL which would take up even more time.
I think this is a weird take. He’s going to college on a scholarship, some people might just want to go to college. It’s not always about the money. He’s a position player so the risk of injury is less than that of a pitcher. So maybe he really likes UCLA, and wants to get drunk at the frat house on Friday nights for a couple years before beginning a major league career. It’s highly unlikely he gets drafted this high in three years but he’ll probably get picked.
About that scholarship… What many don’t realize is that there are almost ZERO full ride baseball scholarships given out in NCAA baseball. There are only 11 or 12 scholarships to be split among all of the players. That’s why it ticks me off that some kid will get a full ride to play basketball, not attend classes, then declare for the draft after showcasing himself for one season.
Could be that McLain wanted a college experience that included the perks and high profile afforded varsity athletes, at UCLA no less. Could be that at 5’10” and 175 lbs. with scouts already talking about him moving off SS that McLain has doubts about his own potential and doesn’t want to pass up UCLA for a pro career that could crater on him quickly.
Matt Leinert defied many pundits’ predications and returned to USC for his senior season, enjoyed one more year as a gridiron god in Los Angeles, still signed for over $50MM, and played himself out of the league. I’ve always wondered whether Leinert understood his limitations better than others and went back to USC for what ultimately was his last shot at glory.
The MLB teams, I have read elsewhere can give out on top of a bonus room, board, tuition and have seen where it can amount to as much as 200k which does NOT count as cap money.
Also.. Have read MLB itself has some kind of working agreement with northeastern U I believe where former miLB players go that many were awarded these deals to finish up their college education?
I think a lot of people forget about this. Money is a big factor, but it isn’t everything. I remember going to school with one of the nation’s best handball players… and he was only a freshman. But he didn’t seem to care about the sport – instead he wanted to drink, party, and just enjoy college for what it’s worth. After playing a sport for 10 years, it’s hard to keep your motivation. Baseball isn’t everything in life. These players aren’t machines, they’re human. Wanting to experience life is only natural.
Sign zee papers!
I vill not sign zee papers!
Wow, the second first-rounder who thinks he can draft higher in three years. Is this a trend of some kind?
Over the past 10 years UCLA and Vanderbilt commits have been hard to sign they probably want the college experience more than bettering draft position.
I think overall though the College game has just gotten far better going to college doesnt set you behind any more it actually puts you ahead in a lot of cases like players from the SEC are coming out fast it might be the closest thing to AA and not being in AA.
I realize some of the universities have very good baseball programs (UCLA being one for sure), and I can understand the appeal of spending a few years in them instead in the very low minors. Some of this has nothing to do with baseball. Got that, especially for players who didn’t rank as well as they might have hoped in the draft out of high school. The opportunity to advance in college ball seems like a good bet for them. It’s two first-rounders declining to sign that seems unusual. The chances that they will draft better in three years is small to non-existant so this makes me wonder if they are being so advised by their agents for some reason. That’s the question I am asking.
Definitely not the agents: they’d want their percentage..
I think the strangest one of all was Aiken he didnt even go to college but the Astros got Alex Bregman out of it..
The agents get paid on commission so they would be advising the exact opposite.
He didn’t sign because Houston pulled its offer after they discovered an abnormal UCL, which he then had surgery on. He wasn’t going to pitch for a couple years anyway.
It ended up working out for both sides really he was still a first round pick the next year I dont know why he wouldnt take less money knowing he had a UCL injury though.
So you would think, at least for players who get picked in an early round. But I can imagine an agent advising a player who is drafted lower that three years in a good college program could help his chances. Maybe these two first-rounders not signing is just a random event, or not. Hard to say.
As far as two-first rounders not signing, it’s not that rare at all. It’s happened a few times in the last decade or so, Most of those were injury guys who had their offers pulled but lots of them were just guys who decided to go to college. Picking a year at random, in 2010 3 first rounders didn’t sign. In 2011 2 didn’t. In 2009 4 didn’t, including James Paxton. Gerrit Cole didn’t sign in 2008 and went first overall three years later. It’s more common than you’d think. There were also the cases of JD Drew and ason Varitek, who exploited a now-closed loophole to sign with an independent league team for a year and re-enter the draft the next year. Drew increased his offer from 3 million to 9 million over that year. And there was 1996, when Boras exploited a contractual flaw to permit four players to automatically become free agents.
The Astros pulled the offer completely. They didn’t want to deal with him at all at that point. Seems harsh, but they were a pretty cost-conscious team then.
You’ve been a font of information on this subject. Thanks!
Do you know, of the first-rounders who didn’t sign for non-medical reasons which of them were selected in the first round of a subsequent draft (other than Cole)?
His Agent is Boras…
Paxton was one for sure. I’d have to go back and look at the list I pulled up yesterday.
Aaron Crow didn’t sign with Washington, went the independent ball rout, was drafted the next year in the first round by KC. Crow made an all-star team before he got hurt.. Appel was obviously one, he went first overall the second time but retired earlier this year. He’s one of only three overall No. 1 picks to never play in the majors. So yeah, it’s rare for it to happen. A most of the guys who didn’t sign ended up lower than round 1.
Unless you’re SD and you take both Weathers and X from Vandy this year…
All the Southern California hunnies he’s going to get may be worth more to him than the $. Not saying he’s right, but I recall I rarely thought with my big head at 18 years old.
The list of guys who have dropped off the radar after making a similar decision is HUGE….much more of them than the Garett Coles of the universe. It’s not a real smart choice.
I’m all for education, but you’re likely to be more successful in life (financially anyway) with a HS diploma and 2M in the bank than you are with a PhD and being broke (if not in debt).
Some poor advice the young man is receiving……
Well advice is just given. He.still makes the final decision. As agents work on commission I doubt he was advising hard against signing.
It happens. Not as common in the 1st round, but not unheard of. Who remembers 2005? Not many outside of SF & Anaheim I suppose. Angels drafted Buster Posey. Lucky for SF it was faaaaar from a 1st Rd selection. Teams knew his commitment to Georgia was strong, and he passed as expected.
There’s a bunch of superstars who did that besides Posey – McGwire, Bonds, Helton, Price, Papelbon, Lincecum, Smoak, Teixiera, Utley – there are some borderline HoF players on that list.
FWIW, Goldschmidt was first drafted by the Dodgers in the 49th round (imagine that) but did not sign. Three years later signed with Arizona in the 8th round. Not a first-rounder either time, but he did himself a favor by waiting, and of course the D’backs still got quite a bargain.
big $$$$ difference from being a first round pick as opposed to a 49th pick, when all you’ll get is a bus ticket to the rookie league. doesn’t seem to be smart to use a first round pick on a guy who doesn’t want to sign
Looks like the Dbacks didn’t do their homework on this!
diamand back do not hit for average or play defense why? So many bad trades over year time and again
Um. I don’t disagree?
If I was a major league owner I would get all my executives in a room over the winter and state, “Let me make one thing perfectly clear: WE DO NOT DRAFT PLAYERS WHO WE AREN’T ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN THEY ARE READY AND WILLING 100% TO BE DRAFTED!!!!”
Yea but why would any high school player say that without the team telling him what they will pay and having a deal?
Without that no one is telling any MLB team hey draft me and I will sign 100% for whatever you offer? Makes zero sense.
That’s what you’re paying your scouting department for. They feed the info to the analytics department who generates a probability. If you’re gonna burn a first round pick on a player, you have to know the likelihood he’ll sign because the slot allocations are no mystery.