Yesterday, an anonymous burner account claiming to be an MLB front office person tweeted the following:
Now I’m not one to take random internet rumors and run with them, but this account is followed by MLB Draftniks like Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo. Beyond that, Chris Lee addressed it, as well.
Digging a little deeper, it appears even The Athletic’s Keith Law thinks there’s a chance Lawlar could be a Diamond Dore if his bonus demands aren’t met:
Keith Law on Jordan Lawlar:— Andrew VU '04 (@AndrewVU041) July 9, 2021
"If Lawlar doesn’t go in the first six picks, he goes to Vanderbilt and tries to be 1-1 in 2023. (Lawlar is 19, so he’ll be draft-eligible as a sophomore in college.) The Diamondbacks also would love to get Watson or Leiter."
Note that he thinks the D-Bags will take him at 6. Still. He's apparently potentially still in play for us.— Andrew VU '04 (@AndrewVU041) July 9, 2021
Here’s my take on this: it is exceedingly rare for players expected to be taken towards the top of the draft—Jordan Lawlar is expected to go in the top 10 picks—to make it to college. Of course, you know full well it does happen. In the past few years, Vanderbilt has had likely first rounders Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter turn down multi-million dollar signing bonuses (some reports had Jack turning down as much as $4 million) to attend Vanderbilt. However, they had largely informed MLB teams before the draft that they were going to honor their commitment to Vanderbilt no matter what.
Jordan Lawlar, from everything I’ve heard, is not in that camp. However, it was not that long ago that Tyler Beede set a $3 million+ bonus demand, and when the Toronto Blue Jays drafted him, but only offered around $2.5 million, Beede kept his word and suited up in gangster pajamas. The same thing happened with Alex Bregman at LSU, and many others (I don’t want a rumor article to exceed 10,000 words, so I’ll stop with the examples of this happening here).
Now why would a big, talented SS like Lawlar be on the board for us at all at this point? Well, there are 4 HS shortstops teams have varying opinions about who might be the best, and which is worth what. It very much appears CA HS SS Marcelo Mayer will be Pittsburgh’s pick at #1. Though MLB.com has Lawlar as their #3 overall prospect, and Keith Law has him at #1, it is possible other teams might like NC HS SS Kahlil Watson or GA HS SS Brady House more than Lawlar, or even that they might like other prospects’ signing bonus demands better.
Lawlar has been towards the top of draft boards all year, so it would not shock me if he’s floating an $8 million or I’m going to college demand. Even if his ask is north of $6 million (which is extremely likely), that might be too rich for some teams’ blood. Would I find a way to offer him that much if I was an MLB team? Yes. But I’m not the one making the decision. Oh, and even their respective fan bases don’t exactly trust the draft rooms in Pittsburgh, Texas, Baltimore, and Arizona. I would say the fans in Detroit and Boston (the other two teams picking in the top 6) would trust their front office when it comes to the draft, but they seem to be targeting other players.
In addition to watching out for those teams, I would keep an eye on the Cincinnati Reds, as they have the 4th largest bonus pool to spend in this draft. I’d also keep an eye on the Colorado Rockies, but since they have so many holes, they might be trying to go under slot in the first round, so as to spread their money out on quantity over quality this draft (usually a bad decision, but talk to a Rockies fan about their front office and their decision making abilities).
Earlier this week, in my 2021 MLB Draft First Round Primer: The Commits, I made the following prediction about Lawlar:
Chance He Signs With The Team Who Drafts Him: 99.99%. It will take a miracle to get him to The Hawk.
Per these rumors, I’ve now changed that to 75%. It’s still much more likely he’s riding busses in the minors next year, but yes, I am now telling you there is a chance.