MLB Draft: A Lot of Talent But an Abundance of Greed

Jeff StrebingerContributor IJune 10, 2009

LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 08:  Sports agent Scott Boras introduces four-time Cy Young Award winning pitcher Greg Maddux at a news conference to announce Maddux' retirement from Major League Baseball at the league's Winter Meetings at the Bellagio December 8, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The top pick in this year's MLB Draft, Stephen Strasburg, is expected to be asking for a minimum of $50 million as a signing bonus.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

The guy has shown that he has stuff very few possess and he could very well be considered a steal at that price by the time the contract is over. 

This article is not being written to criticize Strasburg or his agent Scott Boras (shown in the photo above). I am sure there will be plenty of people writing those this week.

This specific article is to outline how the greed of some players and their agents hurt themselves, and a year later they may finally be realizing it.

In the 2008 MLB Draft there were five players drafted in the first three rounds who didn't sign with the drafting team. Three of the five were back in the draft this year and the other two were freshmen in the NCAA.

The first player is Aaron Crow, former star pitcher for the University of Missouri Tigers. Crow was drafted ninth overall by the Washington Nationals last year and refused to sign.

The Nationals were apparently offering as much as $3.5 million as a signing bonus, but heading into the last day permitted for negotiations, Crow had yet to come down from the $9 million he felt he deserved. 

There are rumors that Crow dropped his demands to $4.5 million at the last second but even if so that was too late and the Nationals refused to budge.

So Crow sat out the season and began this year pitching in an independent league before re-entering the draft.

This year Crow was drafted again, this time by the KC Royals with the 12th overall pick. Doubtful that he'll get the money he wants going 12th if he couldn't get it going ninth.

On top of that, Crow has fallen a year behind in his development and instead of being on a team that is desperate for pitching, he is on one that has Greinke and Meche atop the rotation and hot shot prospects like Danny Duffy already working within the system.

This doesn't even touch upon the financial losses he could run into as now he will be a free agent one year later in his career.

The second player who spurned a contract last year was Gerritt Cole, taken 28th by the NY Yankees. 

Cole decided that he would rather up his stock by going to college instead of signing and entering the Yankee farm system immediately.

Now I am not one to say bad things about college, I love NCAA sports almost as much as I loved the life of being a college student. But this is about someone's career, not how many panty raids he can go on over a four year span.

Cole enrolled in UCLA and finished his freshman year with a record of 4-8 and an ERA of 3.49. Not terrible numbers by any means, but when compared to those of Strasburg, well, Cole isn't quite looking like a No. 1 overall pick.

I don't know Gerritt Cole but I can see him now waiting in line at Diddy Reese's, hoping that they still have his favorite $1.50 ice cream sandwich flavor and wondering what a steak at The Palm might taste like.

I hope for his sake, the girls in Westwood love a .333 winning percentage!

Third player who thinks he is worth more than market value is Tanner Scheppers, taken 48th overall last year. 

Scheppers not signing is a tad more understandable as he was projected to go in the top 15 before injuring his shoulder prior to the draft. He chose to rehab it instead of signing, with his mind set on going where he felt he should have and getting the big money.

This year, Scheppers went when he should have, four spots higher at 44th. He isn't going to get much, if any, more money than he would have last year, and like Crow, has set himself back a year in development.

Next up is last season's 75th overall pick Scott, or Jonathan (depends on who you ask) Bittle. Bittle didn't like where he was drafted, felt he should have gone in the 1st round, and didn't sign, expecting to make his mark his senior year at Ole Miss.

Bittle had a great year in the SEC, but major league General Managers made a point in showing that relief prospects who have a greater sense of their value than what is correct, aren't worth the trouble. 

This year Bittle went 129th, 44 picks later. Do we see a trend yet?

The final guy proving that greed is the deadly sin that never goes away, is last year's 88th overall pick C. Davidson. 

Like Gerritt Cole, Davidson decided that he would rather go to college to improve his draft stock than getting into a team's minor league system and start his career. As mentioned then, this is a decision that really cannot be second guessed.

That is unless you finish your freshman year having lost a starting position and with a hitting line of .231, 3, 19. 

Davidson does have three more years to get his stock back up but here is hoping that the University of Georgia's science program has the technology to build a time machine. Maybe then Davidson can go back and take the money.

What is the moral of this story? If you want to be a ball player and have a chance to realize that dream, a dream that can ultimately pay tens, maybe hundreds, of millions of dollars, think about it before turning down a contract so you can get a little bit more.

And if your agent is telling you that you can get it and deserve it, think about this quintet of ball players, and what it did to their careers. That goes for you too Strasburg. The second you turn down a $40m signing bonus to try to get $50 million, you will likely become the basis for next year's version of this same article.