Imagine that you are an 18-year-old baseball prospect in high demand.
You’ve accepted a scholarship offer to UCLA, but then a week after your high school graduation the 41st overall in the MLB draft.
Unfortunately, you can’t have the best of both worlds. You have to decide: college or the pros? And with the MLB signing deadline of August 15 now less than a week away, you’re on the clock.
Do you follow in the footsteps of your older brother and head to UCLA? After all, that worked out great for Erik. He enjoyed three years of college life in Westwood, got to pitch in the finals of the College World Series as a redshirt sophomore, and then signed a pro contract after being drafted by the New York Mets last year.
Or do you agree to terms with Tampa Bay and head straight for the pros? It’s a ton of money, after all – you’re staring at more than twice the $350,000 signing bonus Erik got. And you would get to wholly dedicate yourself to realizing your dream of playing big league ball.
The commissioner’s office recommends a bonus of just north of $800,000 for your draft slot. So you figure that’s Tampa Bay’s starting point for negotiations.
And when push comes to shove, the Rays may well offer a good bit more than that. A number of other supplemental first-rounders – including guys picked lower than you – are signing for well above their slot value.
Look at pitcher Michael Fulmer, picked 44th, three spots after you. The Mets signed him out of high school for a $937,500 bonus – an enormous jump from his slot of $776,700.
The Colorado Rockies inked Trevor Story – just like you, a high school infielder – for $915,000. That bonus greatly exceeds MLB’s recommendation of $764,100 for the No. 45 draft slot.
And you couldn’t help but notice when the San Francisco Giants – your favorite team – signed Kyle Krick, the 49th pick. Krick, a prep right-hander from Texas, got $900,000. His slot was $717,300.
But really, even if Tampa Bay won’t exceed an $800,000 offer, that shouldn’t be the make-or-break point of your decision, right?
No, the money is going to be in that ballpark, so you figure your choice will come down to other things.
How badly do you want the college experience?
Is there a value you can put on getting an education?
Do you roll the dice, head to UCLA and hope you get drafted in a comparable position in three or four years?
What happens if you get injured? Your family knows all about that risk. Erik battled elbow issues at Bellarmine and UCLA, and he is recently back from a shoulder strain that interrupted his impressive season at Single-A Savannah (Ga.).
Would you have a better chance of making it to the majors if you play college ball first, as some say?
And are you staring at life-changing money – an offer so great that it supersedes all else?
When you ponder your options, you can’t help but feel you’re in a win-win situation. You’ll be happy either way.
But you still need to pick: the Bruins or pro ball.
If you were Tyler Goeddel, what would you decide?