Kumar Rocker's Elbow Issue Has the Mets up Against a Deadline
The New York Mets probably couldn't believe their luck during the 2021 MLB Draft. Vanderbilt's Kumar Rocker, an elite college pitcher tabbed to go within the top six selections, fell to them with the 10th pick. New York snagged him and quickly agreed to a $6 million bonus and all was right with the world. This is where the record scratches.
The deal between Rocker and the Mets has yet to be completed despite agreeing to terms the day after the team drafted him. Medical testing revealed an issue with Rocker's elbow and the two sides have been sent back to the drawing board. The two sides have until August 1 to agree to a new deal or the Mets will forfeit the pick.
If the two sides don't agree to a deal, the Mets would receive the 11th pick in the 2022 MLB Draft as compensation, but no one in the organization will feel good about that. Rocker would then likely return to Vanderbilt for his senior season. Again, no one involved wants that to happen. But the Mets could be in a terrible spot if they relent, give Rocker that $6 million deal and he needs elbow surgery.
Rocker finished his career at Vanderbilt with a 28-10 record, a 2.89 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and 321 strikeouts in 236.2 innings. He was great in 2021, finishing 14-4 with a 2.73 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and 179 strikeouts in 122 innings. He formed a formidable duo with Jack Leiter atop the Commodores' rotation and helped lead them to the College World Series final, where he lost the final, decisive game.
Rocker is a power pitcher and looks like it. He's 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds with a 94-97 mph fastball and a wipeout slider that can be unhittable. He's struggled with his command at times but everything feels correctable.
The Mets have a really tough decision to make over the next few days if Rocker's team isn't willing to renegotiate the deal.