How the New York Mets botched their Kumar Rocker selection in the 2021 MLB Draft


The New York Mets have failed to sign Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker, the No. 10 pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. The Mets apparently had concerns about Rocker’s elbow health following a physical. As a result, they attempted to negotiate him down from their agreed-upon deal, which included a $6 million signing bonus. Sunday’s 5 p.m. deadline passed without a signed contract.

The Mets now will receive the No. 11 pick in next year’s draft as compensation. Meanwhile, Rocker could return to Vanderbilt, where he can take advantage of the new NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) rules to enrich himself while attempting to raise his stock ahead of next year’s draft.

But it’s clear that the Mets messed up — and not by taking him in the first place, as he clearly represented good value at the slot. (CBS Sports, though down on him relative to other publications, still had him as the eighth-best prospect in the class.)

It’s true there were reasons to be cautious about Rocker’s health heading into the draft — his velocity waned during the season and his mechanics hint at future trouble — but it’s unreasonable to expect teams to have perfect knowledge of a player’s elbow ahead of time. (Unless said player undergoes the league’s voluntary testing ahead of time, anyway.) The real mistake the Mets made was in how they approached the rest of their class.