Stanford ace Mark Appel, a 6-foot-5 right-hander selected No. 8 overall in June after sliding past the first seven teams because of cost concerns, elected to return for his senior year of college before Friday's signing deadline. The Pirates had offered him an above-slot bonus of $3.8 million. Instead, they failed to sign their first-round pick for the first time in franchise history, and because of that, will be compensated with the No. 9 overall pick in 2013.
"We took the player we liked the most on the board, created money and, unfortunately, we were unable to reach the value he placed on himself," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We knew he would be a difficult sign."
Appel's adviser, super-agent Scott Boras, blamed Major League Baseball's new slotting system for the failure to reach agreement. The Pirates had spent a record $51 million in bonuses the four previous years, but the new system allotted them only $6.6 million to sign their first 11 picks. If they went over, they'd face fines or the loss of future picks.
"This system placed teams like Pittsburgh in a great dilemma, and it shouldn't," Boras said. "It's not about the revenue or a willingness to pay. It's about the system."
The Pirates ended up signing 11 of their top 14 picks.