Draft Reactions: Nationals

The dust has settled on the 2008 amateur draft.  The Nationals, Pirates, and Royals had storylines worthy of a closer look. 

The Nationals failed to sign their first round pick, college righty Aaron Crow.  Crow might’ve completely skipped the minors had he signed.  ESPN’s Keith Law considers the Crow situation a major blunder for the organization.  The Washington Post learned the details via a lengthy Q&A with GM Jim Bowden.  Here are some highlights:

  • Crow is represented by Randy and Alan Hendricks, and much of the discussion occurred over email.  Last Tuesday the Nats were told it’d take a $9MM big league deal.  Bowden wanted the Hendricks brothers to explain the rationale behind that figure, but the Hendricks brothers did not provide it. 
  • Law blames the Nationals for not properly gauging Crow’s signability before the draft.  That point comes up in the Q&A but Bowden does not provide a clear answer on how he gauges signability.  He mentions that they knew they couldn’t afford Rick Porcello last year, but doesn’t explain why they thought they could afford Crow.
  • The Nats were offering $2.25MM on a minor league deal until Brian Matusz signed Friday, six hours before the deadline.  Matusz got a $3.5MM Major League deal.  Bowden called and said he’d do a deal within that framework, but the Hendricks were not interested. 
  • At one point Bowden gave in and offered a Major League deal, but this offer was by the boards at 6:30pm on deadline day.  That’s because the Nats would not have had enough time to give Crow a physical, and a big league contract can’t be voided.  Both sides seemed to understand this.
  • 15 minutes before the deadline, Crow’s agents dropped their demand to $4.4MM on a minor league deal.  In the last few minutes the Nats offered $3.3MM, and then went to $3.5MM over the phone at the buzzer.  Needless to say the offer was not accepted, and the Nats lost Crow over $900K.
  • I agree with Bowden’s implication that the Hendricks brothers didn’t do a great job here – their client now has to play for the Fort Worth Cats for a year when he could’ve been in the Major Leagues.  This looks ugly for both sides, and neither agents nor teams seem happy with the idea of a midnight deadline. 
  • It’s fair to consider Bowden on thin ice.  The FBI investigation, public mention of his plan to non-tender Chad Cordero, and many of his contract extensions form a poor resume coupled with the Crow situation.

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