The Atlanta Braves never reached terms with 2018 No. 8 draft overall pick Carter Stewart and were reportedly expecting to receive the No. 9 overall pick in 2019 as compensation, while Stewart would re-enter the draft pool next year.
But according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Stewart is attempting to become a free agent, and "the Major League Baseball Players' Association filed a grievance on behalf of Stewart, saying the Braves did not make him the financial offer necessary for them to receive the compensation pick, according to major league sources."
According to Rosenthal, "some involved with the case view him as a long shot to prevail in the dispute," with his hearing set to continue at a later date.
He added, "To secure a compensation pick, a team must offer a player 40 percent of his assigned slot value. Baseball set the value of the No. 8 pick at $4,980,700, meaning the Braves' final offer to Stewart had to be a minimum of $1,992,280."
The Braves reportedly planned to sign Stewart below his slotted value in order to sign pitcher Zack Hess, whom they drafted in the 34th round, to a contract higher than his allotted slot. But after discovering a ligament issue in his right wrist, the Braves chose against signing Stewart, lost the money allotted to his draft slot and were also unable to sign Hess.
Stewart, 18, was considered one of the top arms in the 2018 draft, with Manny Randhawa of MLB.com comparing the 6'6", 200-pounder to Rick Porcello and writing the following scouting report on the young pitcher:
"He has been as lights out as any prep arm in the country, coming out of the gate throwing up to 98 mph. The right-hander touches 96-97 mph in just about every start and easily sits at 92-94 mph. He has one of the best breaking balls in the class, a power curve that is now a mid-80s hammer. While Stewart's changeup is behind right now—and he occasionally slows his arm down—he has feel for it and it should be a solid pitch in the future."
If Stewart isn't awarded free agency, the Braves will keep their No. 9 compensatory pick. But if Stewart is awarded free agency, he'll be free to sign with any team, likely creating a market for himself that would exceed the slotted contract he would receive in next year's draft.
It's unclear if Stewart will return to Mississippi State or attend a junior college if he isn't awarded free agency.