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Insider Only Signing Deadline Buzz: As expected, negotiations going down to the wire with Cole, Bell

Less than four hours until the midnight signing deadline and the Pirates biggest splash today so far, was the signing of 9th round pick Clay Holmes, a high school right hander from Slocomb, Alabama.
The Pirates gave the 6-foot-4, 225-pound pitcher a record {for 9th round pick} $1.2 million bonus, according to Baseball America.
Holmes who was committed to Auburn, went 6-2 with a 2.06 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings. Holmes showed a marked increase in velocity this spring, topping out at 93. He was rated as the 140th-best player in the draft by Baseball America.
Cole Negotiations
As expected, things are going to go right up against the clock with No. 1 pick Gerrit Cole.
Cole is looking for a $13-$14 million Major League Contract. Word as of this afternoon is that the Pirates were topping out at $8-$9 million on a Major League deal. The two sides will bridge the gap, eventually, and some believe a deal won’t be known until past the midnight deadline.
Even though, Cole isn’t a Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper type prospect, that doesn’t matter to advisor Scott Boras and he will try to set precedent.
2010 first overall pick Bryce Harper landed a major league contract worth $9.9 million over five years, including a $6.25 million signing bonus.
Breakdown of Stephen Strasburg’s Major League deal in 2009: $7.5 million signing bonus with $2.5 million paid 15 days after approval of the contract, $2.5 million paid in January 2010 and another $2.5 million paid in January 2011. Received $2 million salary in 2010, $2.5 million in 2011 and $3 million in 2012.
The Pirates gave 2010 1st round pick Jameson Taillon a $6.5 million signing bonus (non-major league contract).
Pirates haven’t closed door on Bell
There continues to be a ton of uncertainity regarding second round pick Josh Bell.
The Pirates in recent weeks have had open dialogue with family members of Bell’s, as the Pirates have worked tirelessly on trying to sell Bell on joining the Pirates organization.
Many industry insiders believe a bonus exceeding $4 million still won’t be enough to lure Bell away from school. There continues to be a notion surrounding Bell that the money doesn’t matter. Jim Callis of Baseball America even recently said, {he thought} Bell wouldn’t sign if he was offered a $10 million bonus.
However, I was told again today by a high ranking official that discussions with Bell and his family members were on-going and fluid and that as of this afternoon, Bell had yet to tell the Pirates he was going to honor his committment to Texas.
The Pirates still felt as recently as a few hours ago, that something could still get done as talks with advisor Scott Boras will surely pickup.
 The Pirates have and intend to offer a signing bonus, worth more than $4.25 million. I’m still skeptical that a high school kid will turn down that type of money.
The Pirates will receive a compensatory pick at the start of the second round in next year’s draft if they fail to reach an agreement with Bell. Bell is already projected as a top-5 pick three years from now if he goes to school.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Bell was rated as the 15th-best prospect in the draft by Baseball America. He hit .548 with 13 home runs, 54 RBIs, 54 runs scored and a1.054 slugging percentage in 139 at-bats this spring while striking out just five times in leading Jesuit to the Texas state Class 5A semifinals.
Bell has been switch-hitting since he was 5 years old and has outstanding power and the ability to hit for average from both sides of the plate. He figures to be limited to a corner outfield spot in professional baseball but his arm could be good enough to play right field rather than relegating him strictly to left.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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