This year, there was no Bryce Harper and no Stephen Strasburg. There was no No. 1 overall pick deemed once-in-a-generation waiting until the clock struck midnight to relent, get paid record sums and join the Washington Nationals.
But as the 2011 signing deadline for draft picks inched ever-closer the Nationals completed a coup of a different kind: perhaps the most impactful draft from start to finish in organizational history. In signing all of their top five picks in the 2011 draft, and all of their selections from the first 10 rounds of the June draft, the Nationals took in an unparalleled haul.
Minutes before the midnight deadline, the Nationals locked up No. 6 overall pick Anthony Rendon, No. 23 Alex Meyer, No. 34 Brian Goodwin and No. 93 Matt Purke. No. 127 overall, Kylin Turnbull, agreed to a $325,000 deal about 2 ½ hours before the deadline. Purke and Rendon agreed to major league contracts while the rest were minor league deals.
The numbers are, as expected, astronomical. If the reports published by Baseball America and Sports Illustrated are accurate, the Nationals spent $17,225,000 on their top five picks. Rendon reportedly received a $7.5 million deal, Purke about $4.4, Meyer $2 million and Goodwin $3 million.
Draft experts were already crowing over the Nationals shrewd selection when they nabbed Rendon at No. 6 overall, where he fell to largely because of injury concern, and Meyer at No. 23. Those compliments only got more effusive when they tabbed Goodwin in the supplemental round, 34th overall, and Purke — once considered a potential No. 1 overall pick — in the third round at No. 93.
Even before the selection of Purke, another who saw his stock fall because of an injury-riddled season, ESPN’s Keith Law and Jason A. Churchill called the Nationals top three selections an “unbelievable haul.” The ESPN experts also noted that, while it might cost them roughly $15 million, “if they get all four under contract, the Nationals will have one of the strongest classes on the draft.”