MLB Draft rumors continue to swirl, and the latest 2021 mock draft from Baseball America tries to make some sense of the varying rumors and stories. While Jim Callis said in his latest mock draft the Texas Rangers seem to have Dallas Jesuit shortstop Jordan Lawlar on the “back burner,” BA has the Rangers taking Lawlar with their pick at #2, just as Keith Law did in his most recent mock draft.
Its hard to get a good handle on where things stand right now — BA says the Pittsburgh Pirates are still considering several players with the #1 pick, including Marcelo Mayer, the California prep shortstop who they have mocked to Pittsburgh in this version. BA also has Oklahoma high school pitcher Jackson Jobe going at #3 to the Detroit Tigers, and if the Tigers are locked in on Jobe, it presents an interesting opportunity for the Rangers at #2.
My guess is that the Rangers would likely take Mayer if he is available at #2, unless they feel they can cut such a tremendous below slot deal with someone else — Kahlil Watson or Jordan Lawlar, most likely — that it makes Mayer worth passing on. The consensus, however is that Detroit will take Mayer if he’s on the board at #3, so Mayer isn’t likely to be making significant bonus concessions.
However, if Mayer goes to Pittsburgh at #1, and Detroit is going to take Jobe at #3, that leaves the Rangers with a choice between Jack Leiter, Kahlil Watson and Jordan Lawlar. Leiter’s floor is thought to be Boston at #4, and there’s talk that he’s making bonus demands to try to drop to Boston. Baltimore, meanwhile, is expected to go below-slot at #5 in order to spend more with their next several picks.
So if the Rangers are choosing between Lawlar and Watson, whoever they don’t pick almost certainly drops out of the top five. The difference between slot money at #2, when the Rangers pick, and slot money at #6, when the Arizona Diamondbacks pick, is $2 million — and there’s no guarantee that the D-Backs wouldn’t pass over one of those two to take Henry Davis or Kumar Rocker. That gives the Rangers leverage to work a deal with one of those two players for a significantly below slot bonus that would allow the Rangers to be aggressive in going over slot later in the draft for someone, or someones, in the later rounds.
That said, let me insert my standard caveat...the draft is still more than two weeks away, and a lot can change, and there are a lot of smoke screens and red herrings being put out there. All we know for sure is that the Rangers will be selecting someone extremely well regarded at #2.