On Tuesday June 7, 2016, Groome decommitted from Vanderbilt and committed to junior college Chipola College, exponentially increasing the lefthander’s leverage in any subsequent contract negotiations. By transferring to Chipola College, if Groome’s contract demands are not satisfied, he has the option to play for Chipola College for one year and re-enter the draft in 2017. Had Groome maintained his commitment to Vanderbilt, he would have been required to attend three years of college, unable to re-enter the draft until 2019.
The signing of draft picks in terms of dollar amount is highly regulated in Major League Baseball. All selections in the first ten rounds of the draft carry with them an assigned value, and the sum of those values represent what a team can spend, without penalty, on all players selected throughout the first ten rounds. A club can exceed its spending pool by up to five percent, with the only penalty being a large tax on the overage; a club that exceeds its pool by greater than five percent, must relinquish a future first-round draft pick, and the penalties become much greater if the pool is exceeded by greater than 10 percent.
Groome’s family and adviser have maintained their demand for a high return, unequivocally a significant contributor to his slide in draft position.
The Red Sox are in a skintight predicament; however, one has to believe that a “handshake” agreement of some sort was made prior to Groome’s selection. The Red Sox possess just short of $7 million to disperse among the entirety of their selections from the first ten rounds. While that figure may appear to be a large amount of money, the 12th pick alone, used in the selection of Groome, is slotted at approximately $3.2 million. If he were to demand first selection money, or anything remotely approaching it, the Red Sox cannot sign him, as the first selection is slotted for $9.02 million; the Red Sox have only $7 million to sign all of their selections from the first ten rounds of the draft.
According to Boston general manager Mike Hazen, “they are hopeful and encouraged” they can get it done. Hazen also added that they aren’t worried about those reported character issues, claiming, “We know who Jason Groome is.”
Only time will determine the accuracy of Hazen’s assertions and the concomitant future success of the Boston Red Sox.