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Kumar Rocker, Mets Don't Agree on Contract After Physical; Was No. 10 MLB Draft Pick

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVAugust 1, 2021

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The New York Mets and No. 10 overall draft pick Kumar Rocker did not come to terms on a deal before Sunday's 5 p.m. ET deadline, as the pitcher's health had come into question in recent days.

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets never put a contract offer on the table ahead of Sunday's deadline:

Mike Puma @NYPost_Mets

Was told the Mets cut bait completely with Kumar Rocker - they never put a contract on the table for him to accept or reject. Earlier there had been some thought the Mets might try to get him for a lower signing bonus.

Andy Martino of SNY reported that the deal did not fall apart over money, as the Mets did not attempt to get Rocker to take a discount. Per Martino, New York did not want to sign Rocker "at any signing bonus" and never made an offer after the physical.

“This is clearly not the outcome we had hoped for and wish Kumar nothing but success moving forward," New York general manager Zack Scott said in a statement, per Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.

Agent Scott Boras said in a statement that Rocker is healthy, also noting independent orthopedists disagreed with the Mets' assessment:

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

From Kumar Rocker’s agent Scott Boras <a href="https://t.co/IJ6WSRxbCk">pic.twitter.com/IJ6WSRxbCk</a>

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As a result of Rocker going unsigned, the Mets will receive the No. 11 pick in the 2022 draft as compensation. Jeff Passan of ESPN reported Rocker will forgo a return to Vanderbilt in order to pursue a professional career.

Passan and Kiley McDaniel of ESPN had previously reported on Sunday that the Mets didn't plan on signing Rocker "barring a drastic change."

The two sides had initially agreed to a $6 million signing bonus, but the Mets expressed concerns over the health of Rocker's arm following a physical examination.

The 21-year-old did not participate in the league's predraft MRI program.

Rocker was one of the biggest stars in college baseball last season, striking out 179 batters in 122 innings while producing a 2.73 ERA. He and Jack Leiter (No. 2 overall draft pick) led the Commodores to the College World Series final before losing to Mississippi State.

While the 6'5", 245-pound right-hander was once considered a potential No. 1 overall pick, he slid on draft day over signability concerns as well as questions about his inconsistent velocity. His average fastball fell in the 90-96 mph range over the course of his 2021 starts, per Kevin Goldstein of FanGraphs.

The Mets showed no fear, however, in selecting the high-upside pitcher. 

"We’re still so elated here—happy—that Kumar got to us. We really thought there was very little chance that this would happen, a pitcher of this talent and his portfolio," Mets Vice President of Amateur and International Scouting Tommy Tanous said on draft night, per Zach Braziller of the New York Post. "This doesn’t happen very often. We feel very fortunate that his name and magnet was still on the board.

"Kumar was more of a dream than anything else."

The pick also affected the rest of the team's draft, as the $6 million agreement was well over the $4.74 million slot value. Each of the remaining picks in the first 10 rounds signed either at or below slot value, per MLB.com.

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