For an hour on Monday night, between 11 p.m. and midnight eastern time, it was pure insanity in the world of the Draft signing deadline.
But after all the posturing, all the negotiating, all the quiet that reigned supreme for most of the day, when the dust settled, nearly every team got the players it wanted when the clock struck midnight. The day began with 23 of 33 first-round picks unsigned and ended with all but one coming to terms with the team that drafted them back in June.
"You try to continue to push through," said Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, who signed No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole as well as second-round selection Josh Bell right at the deadline. "We were done a little while in front of the deadline but it was still hit-or-miss as we went through the night and toward the deadline. As we got the confirmation on both, it was a great feeling."
Below is a look at which 2011 first-round Draft picks signed and did not sign. For a complete list, click here.
The Pirates gave Cole $8 million to set a record for a Minor League deal; the UCLA product did not get a Major League contract from the Pirates. To get Bell, considered a nearly impossible sign heading into the Draft and up until the closing moments of the deadline, Pittsburgh doled out $5 million. In total, Pittsburgh spent more than $17 million in Draft bonuses, a new record.
"We felt like we had a chance to have a terrific Draft in terms of adding talent to the system," said Huntington, who followed a recent tradition of aggressively going after high-end talent in later rounds as well. "And we've been able to do that. We've added a lot of quality players, obviously headlined by Cole and Bell, but we believe in a lot of other players in our Draft. We obviously invested a significant amount in the Draft again, thanks to [owner Bob Nutting]'s support."
They were celebrating in Seattle as well, as the Mariners agreed on an $8.5 million, Major League contract with University of Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen, the No. 2 pick in the country. The Mariners had their sights set on the southpaw for a long time and were ecstatic to get a deal done, even if it wasn't the easiest process to go through.
"We've seen him since high school," Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara said. "We liked him a lot when we were with Milwaukee. We knew he wanted to go to Virginia. We followed him for three years. I saw him four Friday nights in a row this year, which is kind of unusual. He's a good athlete, he's got three potential plus pitches and he's a winner. His makeup is off the charts.
"You have to jump over a lot of hurdles. Everyone works together and you do the best you can. At the end of the day, you hope you sign the players you like. "
The Arizona Diamondbacks definitely feel they signed the players they liked. Right after the Draft, people in the industry felt Arizona had the best haul from the 50 rounds. Getting Trevor Bauer signed early (he's now in Double-A and could be big-league bound soon) got the ball rolling. Earlier Monday, the D-backs announced the signings of picks in the supplemental first round and second round. The icing on the cake came right at the deadline, when Arizona announced it had come to terms with No. 7 overall pick Archie Bradley, giving the Oklahoma high schooler $5 million spread out over five years in a two-sport deal (he had a football scholarship to the University of Oklahoma).
"I couldn't be happier with the two guys we ended up getting [at the top of the Draft]," D-backs scouting director Ray Montgomery said. "Trevor was one of the most decorated college pitchers; he's now in Double-A and on his way to the big leagues. Now adding Archie, I couldn't be happier. The guys behind them, I'm happy to have them as well. But they are frontline, impact type starters."
That doesn't mean there weren't some doubts and concerns, with this midnight deadline looming larger and larger as time passed.
"Whenever you're dealing with deadlines, there's going to be tension, and there are going to be moments when you're not sure what's going to happen," Montgomery said. "But with Archie Bradley and his parents driving the train on this one, we were fairly confident he'd be joining the family."
In the end, every player in the Top 10 signed, including Bubba Starling, who also got a two-sport deal from the Royals at No. 5. Anthony Rendon, Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez all agreed right up against the deadline. So did everyone down the line until No. 21. The Blue Jays were not able to agree on a deal with Tyler Beede, who will honor his commitment to Vanderbilt University. They will get a compensation pick in 2012, pick No. 22, as a result. Toronto was able to sign compensation pick Kevin Comer and second-round pick Daniel Norris, both of whom were high-end high school pitching talents.
Each of the 22 first-round picks who signed on deadline day did end up getting a deal above the recommended slot from Major League Baseball. Now the question is whether that will ever happen again. It's no secret that the Draft system will be a big topic of conversation when Major League Baseball and the Players Association negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement at the end of the year. One thing up for consideration will undoubtedly be a hard slotting system, where teams and draftees alike would know going in to a Draft what offer will be on the table. It's unclear if such a measure will pass -- along with things like moving the deadline up even more -- but one thing is certain: if it does, it would certainly cut down on the drama.