The Washington Nationals have until 5:00 PM EST tomorrow to get Lucas Giolito, the team’s 1st Round selection in the 2012 MLB Draft, under contract. The earlier deadline is just one part of the draft process that changed thanks to the recent restructuring of baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, along with limits on the bonus allotments that teams are allowed to hand out to their top ten draftees before facing potential penalties.
According to calculations done by Baseball America (as Adam Kilgore passes along), Washington can offer Giolito a contract worth up to $2,812,700 without facing any type of penalties from Major League Baseball. The slot recommendation for the 16th overall selection (which Giolito was) amounts to $2,125,000. The Nationals have a little extra room to manuever from this recommendation thanks to the fact that they signed their other top ten picks to lower than slot figures.
Whether the team and Giolito are able to reach an agreement remains to be seen. The right-hander has a commitment to attend UCLA in the fall, which does offer him some degree of leverage in negotiations. Should Washington fail to sign the 17 year old they’d receive an extra pick (what would be #17 overall) in next year’s Draft. There are provisions that would adjust the team’s draft pool next year to compensate for the extra selection, so the team could actually have more to spend on next year’s class. GM Mike Rizzo doesn’t believe in not signing draft picks, referring to such practice as “cardinal sin”. Not signing Giolito would be a significant disappointment.
The right-hander was considered a possibility for the first overall selection earlier this Spring, but a strained ligament in his right elbow cost him his entire Senior season and left enough doubt about his health that teams passed on him, allowing him to fall into Washington’s lap. Kilgore reports that Giolito spend much of the Spring rehabbing his injury, working at the same Los Angeles clinic where both Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg underwent their Tommy John Surgeries. Giolito, from what his doctors have told him, should not need the procedure barring a more severe injury down the road.
If Rizzo and the Nationals are able to reach an agreement with Giolito, he’d add an electric arm to the organization’s minor league ranks. It’s worth remembering, however, that at just 17 years of age there will still be a lengthy process ahead before Giolito can be discussed as even a remote option for the Nationals’ pitching staff at the Major League level.