As the deadline to sign draft picks from the 2015 approaches, there has been notable lack of news as to when the Braves first pick in the draft, Kolby Allard, was going to sign. This was not supposed to be an issue as Kolby himself said when he was drafted that money shouldn't be an issue in terms of getting him to sign. However, as the days and weeks went by, the lack of news became a bit troubling.
Then, at the beginning of the week, as rumors of Lucas Herbert's dad tweeting to Allard "good luck at UCLA" (the tweet has since been taken down) started floating around, David O'Brien of the AJC weighed in
#Braves haven't signed their No. 1 draft pick Kolby Allard, looks like legit chance LH might go to UCLA. They signed their other top picks.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) July 6, 2015
There was a lot of speculation as to whether this was just posturing over the monetary terms of the contract and that ultimately the deal would get done.
However, as Mark Bowman reported, its possible that the Braves aren't as motivated to sign Allard as maybe Allard and his representatives would want them to be.
The article itself is an interesting look at the state of the negotiations from the Braves' perspective as quotes from Braves Assistant GM John Coppolella show a contentious, but respectful process. It also highlights that the Braves have a large stable of young pitching right now and don't feel the need to overpay for another arm when getting a second first round pick in next year's draft could be good for them as well. However, when the topic of Allard's representation came up, a clue as to what could be going on was put front and center
Major League Baseball assessed $2,842,000 as the slot value for this year's 14th selection. History has proven that the Braves are not a club that is willing to go too far above the recommended slot values. But Close has proven he is willing to advise his clients to extend their amateur career if they do not receive the offer that they wanted.
Close represents Brady Aiken, who opted not to sign with the Astros after being the top overall selection in the 2014 Draft. This decision was made after the Astros reportedly dropped their signing bonus offer from $6.5 million to approximately $5 million because of a concern they gained regarding the young pitcher's elbow.
While Casey Close isn't to Scott Boras' level of infamy, he has certainly not shied away from asking for big bucks (this is Ryan Howard's agent just as an FYI) or from having his clients go to college to try to get a better deal/pick if they don't get an offer they like. Unfortunately for the aforementioned Aiken, that decision would cost him millions as he had to undergo Tommy John surgery after injuring his elbow in his first appearance at the IMG Academy. With a verbal commitment to UCLA and a chance to be a top 5 pick in the future, its possible that Allard feels like he is leaving a lot of money on the table by signing with the Braves.
While most still think that a deal will get done, it certainly isn't the slam dunk that most of us thought it was when he was first drafted.