Barring a drastic change between now and the signing deadline at 5 p.m. ET, the New York Mets do not plan to sign right-hander Kumar Rocker, the 10th overall pick in the amateur draft, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.
The 21-year-old Rocker, whose dominance at Vanderbilt made him the best-known college player in perhaps a decade, had a $ 6 million signing deal after he slid down the draft tables earlier this month. But the deal fell apart after his physical, and multiple sources said they don’t expect a retrofit to arrive before the deadline.
The possibility of the Mets and Rocker reaching a last-minute deal always exists, and past deals that seemed dead were eventually consummated. But the momentum in recent days, and the expectation from multiple sources, is that the Mets are unlikely to change their stance.
If Rocker doesn’t sign, the Mets would receive the 11th pick in the 2022 draft as compensation. It’s unclear whether Rocker will return to Vanderbilt or look for an alternate path, such as pitching in an independent league before re-entering the 2022 draft or signing with an international league.
Either way, the mutual excitement on July 11, draft night, has evaporated for the past three weeks. Rocker’s camp, led by agent Scott Boras, insists he is healthy, pointing to the 122 innings he pitched in 20 starts in which he struck out 179 batters with a 2.73 ERA this year. Additionally, sources familiar with Rocker’s situation said, orthopedists outside the team disagreed with the Mets’ assessment of Rocker’s health, as can happen with multiple examinations. The Mets, sources said, raised concerns about Rocker’s arm health after last week’s physical.
Typically, a team has to offer a player 40% of their assigned bonus (the 10th pick box is $ 4.74 million) to get a compensation pick for an unsigned player. However, because Rocker was selected for the league’s pre-draft MRI program and did not participate, the rules allow the Mets to waive an offer and still receive the selection. Players expected to be drafted often skip the program, making a player’s medical information available for all 30 teams.
By not signing Rocker, the Mets would find themselves with $ 878,500 unspent from their $ 9.02 million pool. Most teams exceed the pool by as much as 5% without penalty, which would bring the Mets’ unspent money to more than $ 1.3 million. They had signed other players below their set value in the draft, with the rest reserved for Rocker’s expected $ 6 million bonus.