Amateur Signing Bonuses: Nationals

Time to wrap up our amateur signing bonus series with a trip to the nation's capitol…

  1. Stephen Strasburg, $7.5MM (2009)
  2. Bryce Harper, $6.25MM (2010)
  3. Ryan Zimmerman, $2.975MM (2006)
  4. Justin Wayne, $2.95MM (2000)
  5. Josh Karp, $2.65MM (2001)

Having the first overall pick in back-to-back years can get pretty expensive, especially if there happens to be one of the best and most-hyped prospects in draft history available each year.

By all accounts, Strasburg is the greatest pitching prospect in draft history, and he was paid as such. His bonus is the largest in draft history by more than a million bucks, and the total value of his four-year big league contract is $15.1MM, again the largest in draft history. He zoomed right through the minors as expected, putting just 44 men on base while striking out 65 in 55 1/3 innings before being called up on June 18th. Strasburg famously struck out 14 Pirates in his major league debut, and perhaps more famously will miss just about the entire 2011 season after needing Tommy John surgery. In a dozen starts with the Nats, Strasburg posted a 2.91 ERA with 12.2 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.

Harper wasn't the greatest position player prospect in draft history, but he was certainly hyped as such. His signing bonus is tied with Donavan Tate for the second largest in draft history, and the total value of his five-year contract is $9.9MM. That's the record for non-pitchers, and Washington immediately moved Harper out from behind the plate and into right field to help him get the majors sooner. Although didn't play during the regular season after signing, Harper is hitting .323/.400/.613 in 31 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League.

For all the promise Strasburg and Harper have to offer, Zimmerman is the best player in the young history of the Washington Nationals. He was the fourth overall pick in 2005 and needed just 269 plate appearances in the minors (.336/.377/.564) before reaching the big leagues later that year. Zimmerman has been the team's regular third baseman ever since, and is a .288/.355/.484 career hitter. The performance is ever better over the last two years: .299/.375/.518.

Wayne was the fifth overall pick in the century's first draft, though his time with the then-Expos lasted just two years. He pitched to a 2.92 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 259 1/3 minor league innings with the franchise before being traded to the Marlins in an eight player deal that was highlighted by Carl Pavano and Cliff Floyd in July 2002. Although he pitched in the big leagues with Florida later that year and in each of the next two, Wayne has been out of baseball since 2005.

The Expos selected Karp sixth overall in 2001, but he certainly didn't give them their money's worth. He pitched to a 4.73 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 475 1/3 minor league innings, and has been out of baseball since having shoulder surgery after the 2005 season. Karp never reached the big leagues.



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