NEW YORK -- The Mets wasted little time in agreeing to below-slot deals with four of their six picks from the MLB Draft, putting into practice an aggressive strategy similar to the one they used last year.
The club on Thursday made the first of those signings official: compensation pick Isaiah Greene, who agreed to an $850,000 deal, according to a source. That is below the No. 69 overall pick’s $929,800 slot value.
Earlier this month, sources confirmed that the Mets agreed to terms with third-rounder Anthony Walters for $20,000, fourth-rounder Matthew Dyer for $350,000 and fifth-rounder Eric Orze for $20,000. Those deals are below the slot values of $647,300 for the 91st overall pick, $478,300 for the 120th pick and $357,100 for the 150th pick, respectively. A source also told MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo on Thursday that the Mets agreed to a full-slot deal of $3.36 million with their top pick, Pete Crow-Armstrong.
That leaves the Mets approximately $2.6 million to allocate toward their second-round pick, J.T. Ginn, a potential Top 10 talent whose stock dropped due to Tommy John surgery. Shortly after the Draft, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen called Ginn a “premium talent that is going to require real investment in terms of dollars.”
Ginn’s slot value is approximately $1.4 million, but the Mets now have the financial flexibility to offer him significantly more than $2 million if they desire. Two years ago, Ginn reportedly turned down a $2.4 million deal from the Dodgers, though he was a healthy player at the time.
The Mets’ total Draft pool is $7.125 million (including Crow-Armstrong's slot value of approximately $3.4 million), and if they exceed it, they face the prospect of penalties. Teams that outspend their allotment by 0-5 percent pay a 75 percent tax on the overage. At higher thresholds, clubs lose future picks: a first-rounder and a 75 percent tax for surpassing their pool by more than 5 and up to 10 percent; a first- and second-rounder and a 100 percent tax for more than 10 and up to 15 percent; and two first-rounders and a 100 percent tax for more than 15 percent.
In eight years with these rules, teams have exceeded their allotment a total of 149 times but never by more than 5 percent. Twenty-one of the 30 teams outspent their pool last year.
The Mets’ deals so far should help them avoid that fate. Of the players who agreed to below-slot contracts, the Mets are most excited about Greene, whom they took with the compensatory pick they received when Zack Wheeler signed with the Phillies. An athletic high school center fielder, Greene rebounded from a mediocre junior year at Corona (Calif.) High School to open scouts’ eyes at the Area Code Games and other high-level tournaments last summer and fall. Just 18 years old, he could develop into an even stronger prospect if he develops power as he matures.
“You don’t have to see him play too much to not be impressed with both his hit tool and his secondary tools,” Mets scouting director Tommy Tanous said. “Really, really impressive kid.”
Greene hails from the same hometown as Walters, a San Diego State University shortstop who earned $20,000 -- the maximum that he would have received as a free agent had he not been selected in this year’s Draft. As a redshirt junior, Walters hit .271 with a .689 OPS in 16 games before the coronavirus shutdown. The prior year, at Mt. San Antonio College, the right-handed-hitting Walters hit .374/.483/.718 with 10 home runs and 20 doubles in 45 games.
Dyer, the Mets’ fourth-round pick out of the University of Arizona, is a catcher capable of playing multiple positions, including first base, second base, third base and the outfield. He hit .220 with three home runs and 18 RBIs in 15 games before the coronavirus shutdown ended his junior season.