Texas' GM Jon Daniels, in an article by MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan entitled, "Purke chooses TCU over Rangers", after the Rangers failed to sign '09 1st Round pick Matt Purke, said that, "The biggest issue was money,", and added that, "The communication was good," and, "Both sides were clear as to what they wanted to do, it just didn't match up."
Some details the Rangers' GM did not mention at the time later came to light. MLB.com's Mr. Sullivan's article, written just after after August signing deadline passed, reported that, "The Rangers made an offer of a $4 million bonus in the final minutes leading up to the deadline. Going into the last day of discussions, Purke was looking for at least a $6 million signing bonus." According to Dallas Star-Telegram writer Jeff Wilson, in an article written six months later, the Rangers and Purke, "...had agreed before the draft to a $6 million deal, well above the slot money for the No. 14 overall pick, and owner Tom Hicks gave his approval,":
"That was in June. By July, Major League Baseball was overseeing the Rangers’ finances and had the final say on all transactions beyond what had been budgeted.
"When the Aug. 17 deadline to sign Purke arrived, the commissioner’s office wasn’t going to budge."
In response to a question on Twitter about the two sides not reaching a deal, Baseball America's Jim Callis said that it was, "Never clear if reported $4 mil offer at end would have been approved," either, so Purke decided to attend Texas Christian University (TCU), where, in his freshman year, he was (16-0) with 142 K's (10.99 K/9) and 34 BB (2.63 BB/9) in 20 games, 18 starts and 116.1 IP, earning himself the title of the, "..consensus National Freshman of the Year." An injury-plagued sophomore season, however, in which the left-hander was (5-1) with a 1.71 ERA, .187 BAA, 61 K's (10.42 K/9) and 20 walks (3.42 BB/9) in 11 starts and 52.2 IP caused his stock to drop considerably to the point that he was available 96th overall two drafts after being taken with the 14th overall pick by Texas.
"[Purke] was on everybody's radar, in the top two or three picks coming into the season," D.C. GM Mike Rizzo explained last Thursday when he was on 106.7 the FAN with Overtime's Bill Rohland for another edtition of The Mike Rizzo Show, but the Horned Frogs' starter, "had some shoulder issues and some performance issues [which] gave us the opportunity to get him in the third round."
"With the signability situation with Purke and some of the health issues that he had," Rizzo continued, "with Purke sitting there in the third round pick for us at [no.96) which is a protected pick, meaning that if he doesn't sign we get that pick again next year, we felt it was time to roll the dice on Purke, watch him in the Cape Cod League, he's going to go pitch in the Cape, and we're going to monitor, see if he's healthy and see what his value is on the market."
The route Purke will take, going to the Cape Cod League to prove he's healthy and worthy of a significant signing bonus, is the same one former LSU pitcher and current Red Sox' prospect Anthony Ranaudo took after a suffering through an injury-filled season heading into last year's draft, as Baseball America's Draft Report on Purke pointed out: [Ranaudo] rebounded in the Cape Cod League and got a $2.55 million bonus from the Red Sox as the 39th pick."
"We're going to make a great effort to get him signed," Rizzo added during the discussion of what might end up being a steal of a pick if Purke proves healthy, "...and if that all happens," and the Nationals sign their top picks (including Purke, 3B Anthony Rendon, no.6, RHP Alex Meyer, no.23 and OF Brian Goodwin, no.34), "...then we feel that we really had probably the most impactful draft that I've ever been associated with."
Will Purke look to return to school hoping to get closer to what he originally expected when the Rangers selected him in 2009, or sign knowing what an injury or even the perception of one can do to one's stock in the draft? Purke gambled once, will he try his luck one more time, or sign?