Bundy negotiations may go down to wire
Orioles working diligently to sign their top pick in June's Draft
KANSAS CITY -- With the passing of Sunday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Orioles' spotlight for the next two weeks will be on the Dylan Bundy negotiations, a process which has yet to start and one that is expected to go right up to the Aug. 15 midnight ET deadline as the organization tries to reach common ground with its top Draft pick.
"It's not anywhere different than what I thought it would be," said Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan, who has had very limited contact with the Bundy family and agent Jay Franklin since going to dinner shortly after selecting Bundy fourth overall in the First-Year Player Draft on June 6.
"We'll start to ratchet it up. I think in the next week things will get going, and hopefully we can work toward an answer."
What that answer won't be is the reported $30 million figure floated around the Oklahoma high school right-hander, who touched 100 mph on the radar gun prior to the Draft, a fact both sides have already made clear.
"The ball's in Baltimore's court," Franklin said of starting negotiations that he estimated had a "very, very good chance" of going down to the wire.
"Baltimore knows the situation, and they understand the parameter of what's been discussed," Franklin added. "They know the numbers that were out there before the Draft were misconstrued, and they understand where we are. And we will just leave it up to them to decide where we go from here."
"The propaganda that's out there with a lot of players -- not only Dylan Bundy -- before the Draft, we've been through this before," said Jordan, who already has made clear the organization doesn't expect to set any records with Bundy's signing bonus. "Obviously the truth and kind of what you read and hear about, more times than not, are not the same thing.
"We took the best player, we took the player we wanted and we absolutely believe we will sign him."
The 18-year-old Bundy went 11-0 with a 0.20 ERA and 158 strikeouts and five walks in 71 innings in his senior season, and has a nasty curveball, a very effective cutter and an above-average changeup to go along with his blistering fastball. Considered the top prep pitcher in the Draft, and one of the best high school arms in recent memory, Bundy, who has been throwing and working out in Tulsa, Okla., was selected by an organization with success in signing its top guy.
The Orioles gave a franchise-record $6 million bonus to catcher Matt Wieters (selected fifth overall) in 2007, while last year's top pick, Miami high school shortstop Manny Machado (third overall), got $5.25 million. Both players were advised by the notoriously tough Scott Boras, and both negotiations came down to the final hour.
"When you put the kind of money we did out there the last year, you are obviously going to scare off some teams," Dylan's father, Denver, said of the astronomical figure, which would have blown away Stephen Strasburg's record $15.1 million contract with the Nationals in 2009. "Hopefully if you don't scare off certain teams, it's because they want to sign you, and you can sit down and agree on the ballpark of what we are looking for. ... I believe Baltimore expected to sign him, and that's why they picked him."
Since Jordan was named the Orioles' scouting director in 2005, he has come to terms with the club's top pick, drafting and signing Machado, Wieters, Brandon Snyder, Billy Rowell, Brian Matusz and Matt Hobgood, a group that has produced mixed results.
"There's no doubt that this organization is committed to this," Jordan said of the importance of a long-suffering franchise building through the Draft. "There's no doubt. It's just, there's nothing we can do right now to change this [situation]. The way it's playing out, there's not one thing the organization could have done different other than throw $20 million at him. ... We will sign this kid. There's still some work to do, but we will get him."
The Orioles still have some work to do on several other draftees, most notably second-round pick Jason Esposito. The Vanderbilt third baseman, who was selected 64th overall, remains unsigned, a fact that doesn't sit well with Jordan, who thought Esposito would be signed and out playing a month ago.
"As much as I'm not surprised with anything by Bundy, I think our second-rounder is a disappointment as far as number of at-bats he's missed," Jordan said. "We will make an effort to sign [Esposito], it will be done within a frame that we want, that we expected, and if that's not the case, that may not get done. As crazy as it sounds, I don't know ... I'm disappointed he's not playing."
The Orioles have agreed to terms with 16 of their 50 picks, including six of their top 10 selections, and expect to sign between 20-25, given that they eliminated their rookie-level affiliate and one of their Dominican Summer League teams, making roster space more of an issue. If they can't reach a deal with Esposito, it could ramp up negotiations with high school third baseman Nicholas DelMonico (sixth round), who is thought to have a higher offensive ceiling and will command a substantial sum. Arizona State outfielder John Ruettiger (eighth round) is the only other player in the top 10 who remains unsigned, and he is another possibility for the Orioles, as well as several players in later rounds.
"We got some other things in the air we are going to try to get done," Jordan said. "We did some things to protect ourselves in the event that things don't always work out the way we want, and we are in position to take advantage of things that we want."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.