The Major League Baseball signing deadline passed Friday evening. Players taken in last month’s draft had until 5 p.m. to sign a professional contract.
LSU didn’t have much reason to worry as the deadline approached, but clubs still had the opportunity to swoop in with hundreds of thousands of dollars and sway players from coming to school.
As time moved past the deadline, LSU officially knew all the players who had signed contracts. The deadline gave solid answers on who had moved on from LSU and who had decided to play for the Tigers next year.
Over the past month, four LSU juniors signed with professional teams.
Shortstop Josh Smith, who was taken in the second round, received $976,700 from the Yankees, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.
Center fielder Zach Watson signed for $780,400, according to multiple reports, with the Orioles, who took him in the third round.
Pitcher Zack Hess dropped further in the draft than LSU expected — to the seventh round — but he took $227,700 from Detroit, according to Callis.
Pitcher Todd Peterson got $220,000 from the Nationals, almost $12,000 higher than slot value for his draft position.
Meanwhile, outfielder Antoine Duplantis signed with the Mets for $85,000, Callis said, a high number for a senior. Outgoing college players don’t have much leverage in contract negotiations.
Four of LSU's high school recruits chose professional baseball: pitcher Daniel Espino, infielder Rece Hinds, pitcher Jimmy Lewis and infielder Christian Cairo, who was on campus before the Indians offered him $955,000.
Cairo’s decision forced LSU to quickly search for two infielders. The Tigers will have to pick three new starters across the infield, and they wanted depth. Coach Paul Mainieri said the Tigers have found two more infielders, but he didn’t reveal their names.
A few weeks ago, Mainieri said both players were drafted. They committed to other schools, but they were released from their letters of intent after the head coaches were fired.
“We've got a couple commitments from kids we think are going to be really good players,” Mainieri said.
The deadline cemented decisions by four other drafted players. Sophomore catcher Saul Garza, who the Royals picked in the 32nd round, decided to return to LSU. Commits Maurice Hampton (outfield), Cade Doughty (infield) and Connor Phillips (pitcher) also went unsigned.
Now that the signing deadline has passed, LSU’s roster for next season will become more clear. The Tigers have 15 players in summer leagues, where Doughty’s batting .358 with four home runs.
Though the Tigers have talked openly about Doughty, Hampton and other signees like catchers Alex Milazzo and Hayden Travinski, but hasn’t revealed its entire signing class. It had to wait until the deadline.