SEATTLE – The Cubs and Scott Boras need each other.
A rebuilding franchise wants impact talent, and the super-agent holds influence at the top of the draft and pushes his clients toward free agency at a time when teams are locking up core players with long-term extensions.
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It would also be good for Boras Corp. business if the Cubs started spending like a big-market team again.
So while a national report had framed it as the two sides being far apart in the Kris Bryant negotiations, all along the Cubs expected the No. 2 overall pick to wait until the July 12 signing deadline.
“I don’t like to talk about negotiations publicly,” team president Theo Epstein said Sunday at Safeco Field. “It just sort of complicates the process. But we’ve signed nine of our first 10 (draft picks). So we hope that by the time the deadline comes, we’ll have all 10 signed.”
In theory, Bryant could return to the University of San Diego for his senior season. But it’s hard to see the third baseman’s stock soaring any higher after leading the country in homers (31), runs scored (80), walks (66) and slugging percentage (.820).
The No. 2 overall pick has been assigned a $6.7 million slot value. Top pick Mark Appel, a Boras guy from Stanford University, recently accepted a $6.35 million signing bonus to pitch for his hometown Houston Astros. University of Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray took a below-slot deal ($4.8 million) from the Colorado Rockies as the third overall pick.
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It’s worth noting Boras also advised Albert Almora – the first player drafted by the Epstein administration last year at No. 6 overall – and made a deal for the high school outfielder from South Florida.
If the Cubs somehow don’t reach an agreement with Bryant, they would pocket the No. 3 overall selection in next year’s draft, along with another high pick from what now projects to be a 90-loss season.
But that’s a long-shot scenario for a player the Cubs hope will be a building block at Wrigley Field.