Yesterday, rumors swirled around the blogosphere that Kevin Gausman had decided not to sign with the Orioles and instead return to LSU for his junior season.
Top picks often use their college commitments to give themselves more leverage in contract negotiations, only to sign at or close to the deadline for the highest amount of money they can get. In 2011, Josh Bell, who was considered one of the top high school bats in the draft, fell to the second round because of a "strong" commitment to the University of Texas. Bell eventually signed...for $5 million.
The Gausman negotiations are probably no different. There is a non-zero chance that he ends up back at LSU, but, even his head coach recognizes that his ace's reported return to the team is "premature." Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun talked the LSU coach Paul Mainieri about Gausman:
"Kevin is still in negotiations with the Orioles, and any reports portraying his return to LSU as definite are premature. This is a monumental decision in Kevin’s life, and as much as we want him back with us, we also want him to do what is in his best interest."
Furthermore, the Orioles remain confident in their chances of signing Gausman. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that there has been "progress" in recent negotiations, according to Baltimore's General Manager Dan Duquette. "We intend to sign him," Duquette said.
It's possible that Gausman actually does return to LSU. If that happens, the Orioles will have the 5th overall pick in next year's draft. Gausman would presumably be right at the top of next year's draft board.