BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 20: General Manager Mike Rizzo of the Washington Nationals talks to the media before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
While D.C. GM Mike Rizzo was meeting with the Washington press corps and proclaiming, that the Nationals were, "'... the talk of the industry right now,'" as he was quoted saying in CSNWashington.com's Mark Zuckerman post-draft article entitled, "Nats sign all top draft picks", Baseball Prospectus' writer Kevin Goldstein was on the MLB Network Radio show Round Trip discussing how the nation's capital's Nats had managed to sign now-former TCU left-hander Matt Purke.
Purke's story, for anyone who is unfamiliar, has the 6'3'', 180lb left-hander getting drafted out of high school by the Texas Rangers 14th overall in 2009, thirteen picks after Washington selected Stephen Strasburg. Purke, a Texas native, failed to sign however, amidst rumors of $6 and then $4M dollar offers that MLB reportedly wouldn't allow since the team was in financial turmoil and under MLB's stewardship at the time as it underwent a change of ownership.
Purke instead enrolled at Texas Christian University (TCU) where during his freshman year in 2010 he was (16-0) with 142 K's (10.99 K/9) and 34 BB (2.63 BB/9) in 20 games and 116.1 IP. The top high school prospect a year before was setting himself up as the top collegiate player available for the 2011 Draft when a shoulder injury limited the freshman phenom to 11 starts and 52.2 IP in 2011, in which he was (5-1) with a 1.71 ERA, .187 BAA, 61 K's (10.42 K/9) and 20 walks (3.42 BB/9). Considered by some the best pitcher available, concerns about the injury and signability led to him dropping from 14th overall in '09 to 96th, where the Nats' picked Purke in the 3rd Round.
Though most rumors leading up to Monday's deadline had Purke returning to TCU where he'd pitched his way back to the top of the draft, as the signing deadline for 2011 picks approached, reports of a deal emerged this afternoon via Baseball Prospectus' Mr. Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein), who wrote on the Twitter that, "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," before following up with a note which read simply, "Rumors that Purke will sign with the #Nationals . . . stronger than ever." Just before midnight the deal was announced.
The Washington Nationals signed the left-hander to a 4-year major league deal worth somewhere in the neighborhood of the $4M dollars he was reportedly offered before negotiations with the Rangers ended in 2009. On the MLB Network Radio show Round Trip, host Jim Memolo told Kevin Goldstein he was surprised by how "deep" a financial commitment Washington had made to a pitcher with injury concerns.
"We can say they went 'deep' financially to him," Mr. Goldstein said, "but at the same time, remember, with a big league deal they can spread the payments out a little bit differently and kind of mitigate things that way. They're not just handing him a check for four million dollars. It came out really pretty early today that things were looking very good in Washington, as far as their not just getting Purke done, but getting everybody done."
"And everybody included their two 1st Round picks Anthony Rendon and Alex Meyer who they both got done," the Baseball Prospectus' writer continued, "as well as their [supplemental round pick] the big athlete, outfielder Brian Goodwin and in the end that happened. All day long all you heard was the Nationals are going to get all these guys done." They did.
Anthony Rendon, the Rice third baseman taken 6th overall pick got a 4-year deal with a club option for a fifth year worth approximately $7.2 million. The Nats' second 1st Round pick University of Kentucky right-hander Alex Meyer got a $2M dollar signing bonus. UNC and Miami Dade College outfielder Brian Goodwin got a $3M dollar signing bonus and Purke got the $4M dollar major league deal. And that's just the top four. The Washington Nationals once again showed a commitment to spending on and building through the draft. The top three picks getting signed was expected. D.C. GM Mike Rizzo signing Purke too, that makes you the talk of the industry.