It took the Washington Nationals til the very last minutes before the 2009 midnight deadline before they signed Stephen Strasburg to a 4-year/$15.1M dollar major league deal last August. "People thought it would take to the last minute, we didn't even need that last minute," Nats' team President Stan Kasten joked at the time after agreeing at 11:58:48 pm EST. This time around, the Nationals went a few seconds closer to the deadline before agreeing with their second-straight no.1 overall pick, becoming the first team in the history of the draft to select and sign back-to-back number one overall picks, but according to Mr. Kasten, as quoted on Twitter by Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP), it was once again a matter of minutes:
"'#Harper and #Nats agreed 'seconds' before 12, Kasten says. 'With a full minute, Mike and I thought we were not going to have a deal.'"
Harper received a 5-year/$9.9 million dollar major league deal according to reports, a record for a position player, which included a $6.5M dollar bonus that made the 17-year-old a member of the Washington Nationals' organization along with three of the Nats' other top four picks, all of whom agreed on deals as the deadline approached last night. 2nd Round pick Sammy Solis, a 21-year-old left-hander out of the University of San Diego, received a $1M dollar deal. 4th Rounder A.J. Cole, a projected first-round talent who fell to the 116th overall pick, received $2 million dollars to entice him not to attend the University of Miami, and 12th Round pick Robbie Ray, an 18-year-old left-hander out of Tennessee signed for $799,000, meaning the Nationals handed out $13,699,000 dollars in a matter of 2-3 hours, which, as several writers pointed out, is still $1.401 million less than what Washington paid just to get Strasburg signed last season.
In a post-signing interview with Baseball America's Nathan Rode entitled, "Mr. Harper Goes To Washington", Harper's quoted stating that he'll be in the nation's capital next week for an official introduction, but he doesn't believe he'll be going,"...to a league at all," to start his pro career, "I'll go to instructs and they're talking about Arizona Fall League this fall." MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr confirmed as much, writing in an article entitled, "Chambers: Harper is 'good enough to be in majors in 24 months'", that a "source with knowledge of the situation" was reporting that, "Harper is expected to first play in the instructional league and then go to the prestigious Arizona Fall League," just like '09 1st Round picks Strasburg and reliever Drew Storen did last Fall.
In early July with their top 4 remaining picks still unsigned, Mike Rizzo told a crowd of season ticket holders that he was confident that, "... if we get everybody signed that we want to sign, we will be voted the best draft in baseball." There were not many people, if anyone, arguing with the Nats' GM last night. In fact, in Nats' team President Stan Kasten's estimation, Rizzo had had a Silver Elvis wig-worthy evening, which earned him a totally unexpected shaving (whip really) cream pie...
(video courtesy of @NatsTownNews on Twitter.)
In Rizzo We Trust. [Rizzo points to head.]