It came down to the wire, but the Seattle Mariners and 3rd year (now 4th year) Danny Hultzen were able to come to a monumental agreement last night just minutes before the midnight EST signing deadline. As is the case with many high draft picks in baseball, it seems that talks did not really heat up until yesterday with the two sides being pretty far apart at the beginning of the process.
It was rumored just before the draft that Hultzen was asking for somewhere in the $13 million range over four years which would have been the second highest signing bonus in the history of the draft and affected his draft stock. Instead, Danny was selected #2 overall and has agreed with the Mariners to a five year deal guaranteeing him $8.5 million with a $6.35 million signing bonus. Not the highest ever, but is actually the fifth largest guarantee in the draft only behind Strasburg ($15.1), Mark Prior ($10.5), Bryce Harper ($9.9), and Mark Teixeria ($9.5). Hultzen was also guaranteed to receive more than Gerritt Cole, who was the only player to be drafted ahead of him and will only receive $8 mil (chump-change DH says).
More and most importantly, Hultzen signed a major league deal which means he is automatically put on the 40 man roster. To make room for Danny, the Mariners dropped former Willam and Mary pitcher Chris Ray from their roster (suck it Tribe!). Hultzen will also join the Mariners this spring in big league spring training camp with a very good shot at making the Opening Day roster! Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik said ""We'll give Danny a shot right off the bat to see if he can make the big league club or not." With a rotation of Hernandez, Pinieda, and Hultzen, if the Mariners can learn how to hit they could do some damage in the West in 2012.
Another key detail to the negotiating between the M's and Hultzen was this fall. It is no secret that Danny and his father placed a large emphasis on Danny's education and wanted him to attend classes this fall to try and finish up his degree before focusing on baseball. One of the compromises it seems that the Hultzen camp gave in on was Danny focusing on baseball instead. Its likely that Danny will go to instructional camp at the end of September and then head to the Arizona Fall League in October to face off with the best prospects in baseball.
The Mariners have fallen in love with the ACC over the past three years and have bolstered their system with some of the finest talent from the conference. In 2009, their first round pick was none other than UNC's All-American Dustin Ackley. Also that year, UVa's own Andrew Carraway was taken by the M's and joined another Tar Heel, Kyle Seager. Ackley and Seager both made it to Seattle this year and Carraway has been dominant in AA making the AA All-Star team. This year, four of Seattle's top eight picks came from the ACC including John Hicks and Steven Proscia as well as Clemson's Brad Miller.
Hicks and Prosica signed in early July and both have hit the minor league circuit already. Hicks, taken in the 4th round, signed July 6th for $240,000 and has been playing for the Class A Clinton Lumberkings this summer. Proscia, taken in the 7th round and signed for $160,000, has been absolutely raking for the High-A High Desert Mavericks.
It will be interesting to see the progression of all four of the former Cavaliers in the Mariner's system next year. I wouldn't be surprised if Carraway and Hultzen don't end up in Seattle.
Coach O'Conner and the coaching staff certainly will have their hands full replacing all the talent the Mariners and the other MLB teams took from them this year in the draft. It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out in the fall. What I do know? These guys are crazy if they think I'm buying drinks or Cane's this fall in Charlottesville.