UPDATE (5:22 p.m.): Kumar Rocker and the New York Mets did not agree prior to the deadline, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. As a result, the Mets will receive the No. 11 pick in the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft.
Rocker would be eligible to return to Vanderbilt but will begin his pro career before entering the draft pool next year. His agent, Scott Boras, said Rocker is healthy. Mets general manager Zack Scott issued a statement as well.
ORIGINAL STORY: Kumar Rocker and the New York Mets seemed like a match made in heaven — the most popular player in the MLB draft heading to the Big Apple.
However, it now looks as if the two sides won’t even make it to the altar.
The Mets are not expected to sign Rocker, the 10th pick in the 2021 draft, to a contract before Sunday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. In recent weeks, and after initially having an agreement in place, New York reportedly became fearful of a right elbow issue that popped up during the pitcher’s post-draft physical.
Passan noted that there remains a possibility for the Mets to change their stance before the deadline, but that such a reversal is unlikely.
Rocker must wait until 2022 at the earliest to re-enter Major League Baseball’s drafting process. In the meantime, the 21-year-old’s options include returning to Vanderbilt for his senior season and pitching in an independent league.
So, no, other teams cannot sign him. Sorry, Boston Red Sox fans.
As for the Mets, they will receive the No. 11 pick in the 2022 draft, but that has not prevented them from fielding immense — and justified — criticism over the situation.
If Rocker does not sign, New York would be left with more than $1.3 million in unspent money from its $9.02 million pool. The Mets saved money by signing under-slot draftees with the intention of spending it on Rocker’s expected $6 million bonus.
So, they missed out on drafting potentially better players than they wound up with, and apparently don’t believe the player they drafted 10th overall is worth a $6 million risk. Yes, the Mets would have the 11th pick next year, but there’s no guarantee a player of Rocker’s talents would be available at that spot.
At best, it’s a complete mismanagement of the asset and the situation.
Anyway, if you’re wondering why Rocker is such a popular player, this video really is all you need to see: