SBD/Issue 184/Franchises

Nats Get Their Man, Turn Focus To Signing Boras-Repped Harper

Nationals Select Bryce Harper With First
Overall Selection In Last Night's MLB Draft

The Nationals last night selected College of Southern Nevada C/RF Bryce Harper with the No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft, and the "focus now will shift to the process of Harper officially becoming a National," according to Adam Kilgore of the WASHINGTON POST. Harper is repped by Scott Boras, who is "notorious for protracted negotiations that brush up against the deadline for draftees to sign, which this year" is Aug. 16. Harper "will almost certainly exceed the record contract for a position player, still Mark Teixeira's $9.5 million in 2001," but Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is "optimistic the negotiation will not be an ordeal." Rizzo: "We're going to put our best effort forward. We know that we have a player who wants to play. We've got a representative that we've dealt with successfully in the past. We're going to give our best effort on all sides" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/8). MLB.com's Mike Bauman wrote one "sure thing is that, represented by agent Scott Boras, Harper will not be receiving anything other than maximum dollars." There is "speculation that Harper/Boras will attempt to land a signing package even larger" than the $15.1M given to Nationals P Stephen Strasburg last summer. The Nationals "had to pay a precedent-shattering price to land Strasburg and they may have to spend their way into the same fiscal neighborhood to sign Harper" (MLB.com, 6/7). MLB Network, televising the Draft for the second straight year, landed a remote interview with Harper, but no question was posed regarding upcoming contract negotiations. Boras represents four of the top seven picks overall, including No. 3 pick SS Manny Machado (Orioles), No. 4 pick SS Christian Colon (Royals) and No. 7 pick P Matt Harvey (Mets) (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

LIKELY A DEAL WILL GET DONE: CSNWashington.com’s Mark Zuckerman said Boras "usually waits until the last hour on August 15th to get it done, and I think that is going to be the case again.” However, Zuckerman believes Harper will sign with the Nationals, saying, “He wouldn’t have gone and gotten his GED at age 16. He wouldn’t have gone and played in this wood bat league at age 17 to hold out and go back to college for another year. He wants to play.” Zuckerman: “I would guess that his signing bonus will be larger than Strasburg’s at $7.5(M), but that the total package will probably be less than what Strasburg got" ("Washington Post Live," Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 6/7). ESPN’s Mike Golic said Boras is going to look for a deal bigger than the one that Strasburg got.” ESPN's Mike Greenberg: "I think they’ll get him signed but I think it’ll go right to the border line” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 6/8).

MONEY-SAVING MOVE? ESPN.com's Keith Law noted the Dodgers used the No. 28 pick to select high school P Zach Lee, described by one source as the "most unsignable player in the draft." Several other sources indicated that the Dodgers "may have taken him knowing they couldn't sign him with the intention of getting the compensatory pick next year when, they hope, they have more money to spend in the draft" (ESPN.com, 6/7). In L.A., Dylan Hernandez notes the Dodgers "for the most part ... have not signed players to bonuses that exceed the recommendations of the commissioner's office," but Assistant GM for Amateur & Int'l Scouting Logan White acknowledged that the Dodgers "might make an exception" for Lee. White said that "fiscally conservative" Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt is "aware that Lee, who is being advised by agents Randy and Alan Hendricks, could cost more than a typical player selected 28th overall." But White "adamantly denied that the Dodgers purposely selected an unsignable player to save money." White said he is "cautiously optimistic" about signing Lee. White: "As the summer plays out, you'll see the effort will be made." Hernandez notes Lee is "committed to play football at LSU," and White said that he "hasn't considered signing Lee to the kind of deal that would allow him to play football at LSU during the fall and baseball in the Dodgers' minor league system during the summer" (L.A. TIMES, 6/8). ESPN L.A.'s Tony Jackson noted Lee "presumably would be part of one of the nation's premier college baseball programs" at LSU as well, which is a fact he is "almost certain to use as leverage in any negotiations with the Dodgers" (ESPNLOSANGELES.com, 6/7).

RANGERS ALREADY SIGNING PICKS: Sources said that the team has "agreed to terms on a $1 million signing bonus" with C Kellin Deglan, whom the Rangers selected with the No. 22 pick in the first round. The Rangers last year selected P Matt Purke in the first round "expecting to sign him but couldn't make a strong enough offer," and as the Rangers front office yesterday "hunkered down in the 'war room,' it wanted players they knew were highly likely to sign on the dotted line by the Aug. 16 deadline." Rangers GM Jon Daniels "doesn't believe the club's limited financial resources meant sacrificing talent" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 6/7). The Rangers reportedly signed Deglan for $1M, while a baseball official said that No. 15 pick CF Jake Skole has "nearly agreed to terms" at the recommended slot (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 6/8). In Dallas, Evan Grant notes there are "two ways to analyze the Rangers' haul" yesterday. The first thought is the bankrupt team "went to cheapest route possible, selecting relatively pain-free and affordable players." Deglan in mock drafts "earned the unofficial title of 'easiest to sign.'" However, the other thought is that in a "draft class noted for balanced but unspectacular talents, the Rangers valued 'makeup' as much, if not more than, any physical tool" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/8).

Yankees Use First Pick On Local Product Cito
Culver, Who May Be Easier To Sign

SIGNABILITY DOWNPLAYED, BUT STILL AN ISSUE: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig gave no clues as to how signings would likely go this summer. During the past several years, numerous clubs have ignored MLB's unofficial slot recommendations, causing unease around the game. "Each club is going to have to answer that, and if they've done their work properly, they know whether these guys are singable and how quickly they're signable, or if they're not," he said (Fisher). MLB Network's Peter Gammons noted as the Draft "goes along, I don’t think we’ve seen very many of the ‘OK, we’re going to draft him just based on signability.’ … In the majority of cases, we haven’t seen that (teams) are going to go way below slot.” The Reds drafted C Yasmani Grandal with the No. 12 pick, and Gammons noted Grandal is expected to ask for around the same amount of money as the $6.5M the Giants gave C Buster Posey as the No. 5 pick in '08. Gammons: “Playing a game of slot for a switch-hitting catcher can be very dangerous.” However, he noted Reds GM Walt Jocketty’s history “is being able to go above slot” with high draft picks, including J.D. Drew and Rick Ankiel. However, the Astros drafted 2B Delino DeShields Jr. with the No. 8 pick, and MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds said, “Signability plays into this. He made himself available. He wants to sign, he wants to play” ("2010 1st-Year Player Draft," MLB Network, 6/7). SI.com's Ted Keith notes the Phillies selected P Jesse Biddle at No. 27 and the Yankees chose SS Cito Culver at No. 32, both of whom are "local products who may be easier for their clubs to sign." That "may be a telling sign that even big-market clubs like those in Philadelphia and New York are worried about signability" (SI.com, 6/8).

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