SBD/Issue 232/Franchises

Nats Agree To $9.9M Deal With No. 1 Pick Harper At The Last Second

Nationals Sign Top Overall Draft Pick To Five-
Year, $9.9M Deal Seconds Before Deadline

The Nationals less than one minute before the midnight deadline to sign draft picks agreed to a five-year, $9.9M deal with OF Bryce Harper, the “richest draft deal ever signed by a position player,” according to Adam Kilgore of the WASHINGTON POST. The deal includes a $6.25M signing bonus. Nationals President Stan Kasten said, “With a full minute to go, [GM Mike Rizzo] and I both thought we were not going to have a deal.” However, Kilgore reports as the deadline approached, the Nationals and Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, “pushed aside small differences.” Harper will begin his career in the Gulf Coast League “within days,” and he will head to DC to meet with the media during the Nationals' homestand next week. The team is “certain he will participate in the instructional league in Florida after the minor league season ends, and he might play in the Arizona Fall League.” The Nationals before agreeing to a deal with Harper “finished off three signings for well over the price recommended” by MLB. The Nationals “pledged $13,699,000 in a single day -- still about $1.4 million less than the total contract signed by their first pick in 2009,” P Stephen Strasburg (WASHINGTON POST, 8/17). Harper last night said, “I knew everything would go down to the wire. … Twenty seconds before the deadline, we got it done” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 8/17). CSN WASHINGTON's Mark Zuckerman writes the major-league deal for Harper “was a bit of a surprise.” But the Nationals were “willing to make that commitment because they feel Harper can reach the big leagues in short order.” The $9.9M total package breaks Mark Teixeira’s previous record of $9.5M (CSNWASHINGTON.com, 8/17). ESPN.com’s Keith Law wrote the deal is a “win for both sides, right down to the funny structure of the deal: $9.9 million spread out over five years plus $100,000 in salary, allowing the Nats to say it was under $10 million and Harper and Scott Boras to say it was” (ESPN.com, 8/16).

TIME FOR NATS FANS TO DREAM: In DC, Thomas Boswell writes a franchise and a town are “lucky if they have one” individual player who can “amaze or inspire.” By adding Harper to a roster that already includes Strasburg and 3B Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals now have “three players with face-of-franchise talent.” Five years after baseball’s return to the city, DC fans are “getting a reward that, while perhaps not as cherished as a World Series, ranks enormously high.” Boswell: “Every scenario is now open, plus plenty we can’t imagine” (WASHINGTON POST, 8/17). CBSSPORTS.com's Scott Miller writes under the header, "Score It Another Big Night For The Nationals." Miller: "An otherwise non-descript summer's evening has every chance to be historic if the Nationals continue to close the talent gap on their rivals with nights like this" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/17). Meanwhile, MASNSPORTS.com's Phil Wood reports the Nationals "never reassigned #34 after they released Elijah Dukes in March." Wood: "The only question now is whether Harper merchandise will be available at the team store by the next homestand" (MASNSPORTS.com, 8/17).

Parker Inks Deal With Rockies That Will Let
Him Play Football At Clemson This Fall

QB SNEAK: In L.A., Bolch & Baxter report the Dodgers reached a deal with first-round draft pick P Zach Lee, “luring him away from the Louisiana State football team with a $5.25-million signing bonus, more than double the largest bonus the team had paid for a draft pick.” Lee, one of the nation’s “top prep quarterbacks, was regarded as the most unlikely first-round pick to sign after being selected 28th by the Dodgers.” The money “will be spread out over five years, which protects the Dodgers should Lee decide to return to college and football.” But it still “marks a major investment for an organization that has been among baseball’s thriftiest in the draft in recent years.” Dodgers GM Ned Colletti: “This says when we have the right player, we’ll do what we have to do to get the right player signed” (L.A. TIMES, 8/16). Also in L.A., Steve Dilbeck noted many “suspected the Dodgers selected Lee because they had no intention of actually spending first-round money on a draft pick while owners Frank and Jamie McCourt were going through” their divorce. Dodgers Assistant GM/Amateur & Int'l Scouting Logan White said of McCourt, “We had discussed this with him before we made this pick and Frank certainly had the courage to still allow us to do it, even though he was going to be criticized” (LATIMES.com, 8/16). Meanwhile, BASEBALL AMERICA’s John Manuel reports Clemson Univ. QB Kyle Parker signed a contract with the Rockies for $1.4M that “allows him to play football this fall for the Tigers” (BASEBALLAMERICA.com, 8/17).

AROUND THE HORN: BASEBALL AMERICA’s Jim Callis notes 14 players signed yesterday for a total of $48.5M in bonuses and MLB salaries before the deadline. Three first-rounders “failed to sign, the most since” ’89. The Pirates inked P Jameson Taillon for $6.5M, the “highest bonus ever given to a high schooler” and second only to Strasburg’s $7.5M last year in draft history. The Orioles gave SS Manny Machado a $5.25M bonus, the “sixth-highest ever for a high schooler.” The Reds signed C Yasmani Grandal to “one of three major league contracts,” and his “total guarantee is roughly” $3M. D’Backs draft pick P Barret Loux, as expected, "didn’t sign after failing a club physical in July” (BASEBALLAMERICA.com, 8/17). The Orioles reached the deal with Machado “3 minutes before midnight.” The Indians and No. 5 overall pick P Drew Pomeranz came to terms on a $2.65M deal. However, the Brewers “did not agree with their No. 1 pick,” P Dylan Covey, who was “recently diagnosed with diabetes.” Brewers GM Doug Melvin said that that “played a pivotal role in his decision not to sign” (Jon Heyman, SI.com, 8/17). The Padres also failed to come to an agreement with their first round pick, P Karsten Whitson. Padres GM Jed Hoyer: "We offered him a fair deal. But there was a point after the draft where his worth skyrocketed and it never came back to reality" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/17).

WAITING TO SIGN JUST PART OF THE GAME: CSN's Zuckerman noted MLB a couple years ago created the system where approximately August 15 would be the signing deadline, as under the previous system "you could go all the way to the following summer, so guys would hold out even longer." Zuckerman: "By doing it this way they figure, 'Okay, it gets it done quicker.' But then what that's in turn done is given the agent a reason to say there's no reason to sign earlier. If I have that sliver of possibility in their mind that maybe this kid isn't going to sign, maybe at the last minute I'm going to up the price a little bit." He noted MLB is not "necessarily going out of their way to discourage teams from doing it this way because what they don't want to have happen is for the Nationals to sign Harper on June 15th for $15 million." Zuckerman: "Now he's set the bar really high, and all the other picks get $11 or 12 million. So there is incentive on both sides to wait until this last minute" ("Washington Post Live," Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 8/16).

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