MLB teams
Jeff PassanKiley McDaniel 53d

New York Mets don't sign first-round draft pick Kumar Rocker before deadline

MLB, New York Mets

The New York Mets did not sign right-hander Kumar Rocker, the 10th overall pick in the amateur draft, before Sunday's 5 p.m. ET signing deadline. 

"This is clearly not the outcome we had hoped for and wish Kumar nothing but success moving forward," acting Mets general manager Zack Scott said in a statement. "We're excited about the players we have signed and look forward to watching them develop and contribute to the organization in the years to come."

Rocker, 21, whose dominance at Vanderbilt made him the most well-known college player in perhaps a decade, had an agreement in place to sign for $6 million after he slipped down draft boards earlier this month. But the deal fell apart following his physical examination as the Mets expressed concern over the health of Rocker's arm, sources said.

Rocker's agent, Scott Boras, said in a statement that his client is healthy.

"Kumar Rocker is healthy according to independent medical review by multiple prominent baseball orthopedic surgeons. Immediately upon conclusion of his collegiate season, he had an MRI on both his shoulder and his elbow. When compared with his 2018 MRIs, the medical experts found no significant change. Kumar requires no medical attention and will continue to pitch in the regular course as he prepares to begin his professional career," he said.

The Mets will receive the 11th pick in the 2022 draft as compensation for not signing Rocker.

Rocker, who pitched 122 innings in 20 starts, striking out 179 batters with a 2.73 ERA this season for Vanderbilt, will be eligible again for the 2022 draft.

Typically, a team has to offer a player 40% of his slotted bonus -- the 10th-pick slot is $4.74 million -- to reap a compensation pick for an unsigned player. Because Rocker was selected for the league's pre-draft MRI program and did not participate, however, the rules allow the Mets to forgo an offer and still receive the pick. Players expected to be drafted high often skip the program, which makes a player's medical information available to all 30 teams.

By not signing Rocker, the Mets find themselves with $878,500 unspent from their $9.02 million pool. Most teams exceed the pool by up to the 5% allowed without being penalized, which pushes the Mets' unspent money to more than $1.3 million. They had signed other players under their slot value, with the rest reserved for Rocker's expected $6 million bonus.

Rocker was the only one of the Mets' 20 draft picks to not be signed by the franchise.

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