"It may cost them $15 million to sign all four," ESPN.com's Jason Churchill wrote in a June 7th assessment of the first three rounds of the Washington Nationals' 2011 Draft class entitled, "Matt Purke gives Nats even more upside", but if D.C. GM Mike Rizzo and the Nats' front office managed to, "... get all four under contract," the ESPN writer continued, "the Nationals will have one of the strongest classes of the draft."
Using their 1st Round pick, no. 6 overall, two compensation picks (no.'s 23 and 34) and their 3rd Round pick, 96th overall, the Nats selected Anthony Rendon, a third baseman out of Rice, Alex Meyer, a 6'9'' right-hander out of Kentucky, outfielder Brian Goodwin, an outfielder from Miami Dade College and UNC, and Matt Purke, the titular left-hander referred to in Mr. Churchill's article, a former Texas Rangers' 1st Round pick who'd failed to sign and whose stocked had dropped due a shoulder injury sustained in the second of two seasons he spent at Texas Christian University before he could reenter the Draft.
It was hard to find anyone who thought the Nationals and Purke would agree on a deal. The 21-year-old left-hander had been a 1st Round pick and likely would be again if he waited until 2012. If he didn't get something similar to what the Texas Rangers had been offering, why would he sign?
The Nationals announced that they had reached a deal with 4th Round pick LHP Kylin Turnbull around 10:00 pm EDT on August 15th, the night of the deadline to sign 2011 picks, with Baseball America's Jim Callis (@JimCallisBA) writing on the Twitter that the Nationals had signed, "4th-[rounder] Kylin Turnbull for $325k (slot = $225k)...Santa Barbara CC LHP is projectable (6-4/195), fastball to 94." Turnbull was the 127th pick of the draft behind Nats' top four selections, and as of that moment he was the highest pick whose deal was announced. Rendon, Meyer, Goodwin and Purke were still unsigned with under an hour remaining before the deadline. The top three would sign, but Purke?
"We're going to make a great effort to get him signed," Nats' GM Mike Rizzo had said earlier in the summer on 106.7 the FAN's Overtime with Bill Rohland during another edtition of The Mike Rizzo Show, when asked about the likelihood of the left-hander agreeing to a deal, and the Nats were confident all four of their top picks would sign, Rizzo said, "...and if that all happens, then we feel that we really had probably the most impactful draft that I've ever been associated with."
At around 10:30 pm on the night of the signing deadline, Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) had written on the Twiiter that the, "Rumors that Purke will sign with the #Nationals . . . stronger than ever." The Baseball Prospectus' writer was following up on an earlier report in which he'd noted that there were, "More and more RUMORS out there that the #Nationals will get Rendon, Meyer AND Purke done; rumor No. 2 is big league deal for Purke."
At 11:33 pm EDT, SI.com's Jon Heyman (@SI_JonHeyman) reported on Twitter that he'd heard that the, "#nationals [are] close to deal with OF brian goodwin." But that was it. With nine minutes left, high school left-hander Kylin Turnbull's deal was the only one announced. Then....
SI.com's Jon Heyman followed up on his previous report, writing at 11:53 pm EDT, "Brian Goodwin, OF and No. 34 pick overall, in agreement with #nationals. believed to be for $3M." Two of the Nationals' top 5 picks were signed. Baseball America's Jim Callis (@JimCallisBA) was next with the biggest news of the night, "#Nationals give 3rd-rder Matt Purke 4-yr big [league] deal. Details to come, total guarantee close to No. 3 pick Trevor Bauer ($4.4 mil)." Purke was in. 3 of the Nats' top 5 picks had signed. Then the big news came through on the Twitter...
"The #Nats have agreed to sign all four [top] picks,"Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) reported, "...club source said: Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer, Brian Goodwin, Matt Purke. No word on $."
"Rendon gets big-league deal for $7.2M from #nats", SI.com's Jon Heyman (@SI_JonHeyman) wrote on Twitter. "#Nationals sign RHP Alex Meyer for $2 million bonus," Baseball America's John Manuel (@JohnManuelBA) reported. Brian Goodwin got a $3M dollars. Baseball America's Jim Callis broke down Purke's deal in a post-draft article entitled, "No Matter The Slots, Teams Spent Freely In 2011":
"Purke [got] a third-round record $2.75 million bonus as part of a four-year big league contract with $4.15 million in guarantees (net present value: $3,813,308), two club options and an arbitration opt-out. If he doesn't need more than a year in the minors, Purke will make at least $5 million."
After committing $11.5 million in signing bonuses to the 2009 Draft class and $11.9 million on their 2010 picks, the Nationals spent $15 million on the 2011 Draft, which Baseball America's Jim Callis notes, does not, "... include additional guarantees included in major league contracts." After outspending the league on bonuses in the previous two seasons, the Nationals, without a once-in-a-generation no.1 overall pick like Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper, spent the second highest amount on signing bonuses in 2011, behind only the owners of 2012's no. 1 overall pick, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"We've got a system that's second to none," D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told reporters on the night of the deadline, "We're the talk of the industry right now. This just solidifies us as one of the top scouting and player development organizations in the game."
"'This is my 27th year being involved with the draft and it’s the best draft I’ve ever been a part of,'" Nats' Assistant GM and VP of Player Personnel Roy Clark told Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak in a post-signing deadline article entitled, "Nats beat the clock, sign top five draft picks":
"As far as the number of impact players that we’re bringing into the system at once… I think this is a huge day in the franchise history of the Washington Nationals."
[Rizzo points to head.]